Two people died in a mass shooting in Florida this week, after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando just 43 days ago, which itself was the 15th mass shooting in Florida this year.
The frequency of mass shootings, while horrifying, obscures the banality of everyday gun violence in the U.S. Specifically, that far more people are killed in gun suicides and accidents than in homicides.
Guns are primarily suicide machines. There were 21,334 firearm suicides in 2014, according to the CDC, but people use guns to justifiably kill someone in self-defense only about 250 times each year. Half of Americans who kill themselves use a gun.
Having a gun in the home is also strongly correlated with accidental shootings. As I’ve written, about 1.7 million children live in homes with guns that aren’t safely stored. Toddlers alone have shot at least 23 people this year.
Most unintentional shootings of children happen in homes where guns are legally owned, but not stored safely, and 70 percent of them could have been prevented if the gun had been stored safely.
In its call last year to consider gun violence “a public health imperative,” the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that among people younger than 24 “Gun injuries cause twice as many deaths as cancer, five times as many deaths as heart disease, and 15 times as many deaths as infections. The United States has the highest rate of firearm-related deaths among high-income countries,”*