Five Charts to Understand Gun Culture in the United States

(CNN) – America: home to freedom, the pursuit of happiness, and the vast majority of mass shootings in the world.

But mass shootings are not a distant memory in this country.

  • So far in 2021, 293 mass shootings have been recorded as of June 21.
  • Gun ownership is a constitutional right in the US
  • There are an estimated 310 million firearms for civilian Americans in the country.

Recently, seven people in the United States were killed and at least 45 injured in shootings that occurred this weekend, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA). Among the victims were at least two children, one 10 and one 15, police said.

The latest shootings are among a streak of violent and deadly weekends the nation has seen in recent weeks.

Last weekend, there were also 10 mass shootings in seven states that killed 12 people and injured 57 more, GVA data shows.

In October 2017, 64-year-old shooter Stephen Paddock shot into a crowd that was gathering at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. 58 people died and more than 500 people were injured. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

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And a year earlier, in 2016, an attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead. In 2012, Adam Lanza started a massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, murdering his mother before killing 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In 2007, 32 people were killed in the Virginia Tech massacre.

America’s unique relationship to gun ownership – enshrined as a right in its constitution – is also in the midst of an emotional and divisive debate over the meaning of these 27 words, which give its citizens the right to own guns. Which has also, in the view of many critics, helped usher in a culture that sees its own people killed by armed citizens – more than in any other high-income country in the world.

Gun-related deaths occur in tragic circumstances around the country on a daily basis: More than 1,800 people were killed by firearms in 2017 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit group. But they are often mass shootings that reignite the debate over gun control in the United States and highlight its position as a global outlier.

There are an estimated 310 million firearms available to American civilians, according to a 2009 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) report.

India is home to the second largest stockpile of civilian firearms, estimated at 46 million.

The most up-to-date estimates – which are more than a decade old – put the world’s stockpile of arms for civilians at about 650 million. According to the Swiss-based organization Small Arms Survey, the number of civilian firearms has likely increased since 2007. The production of firearms continues to proliferate around the world, outweighing the effects that their destruction could have.

According to the Small Arms Survey, it is impossible to identify the exact number of civilian-owned firearms due to a variety of factors, including weapons that go unregistered, illegal trade and global conflict.

Americans own the most guns per person in the world: About four in 10 say they own a gun or live in a house with firearms, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center study.

Yemen, which ranks second in population with firearms per capita (and is a country mired in a three-year civil conflict) is far behind the United States in terms of property.

And, when it comes to gun massacres, America is an anomaly: There are more public mass shootings there than in any other country in the world.

In February 2017, US President Donald Trump signed a measure scrapping a regulation from the era of former President Barack Obama aimed at keeping guns away from some seriously mentally ill people.

The original regulations were part of a series of measures taken by the Obama administration to try to curb gun violence, after other efforts failed in Congress.

Globally, restrictive firearm laws have shown a difference in curbing massacres. In Australia, for example, four mass shootings occurred between 1987 and 1996. After those incidents, public opinion turned against gun ownership and Parliament passed stricter gun laws. Australia has not had a mass shooting since.

The United States has one of the highest rates of firearm deaths among developed countries, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Our calculations, based on 2010 OECD data, show that Americans are 51 times more likely to be shot dead than people in Britain.

The majority of American gun owners (two-thirds) say one of the main reasons they own them is for personal protection, according to the Pew Research Center study. However, the majority of firearm-related deaths in the United States are attributed to self-harm.

In fact: Gun-related suicides are eight times higher in this country than in other high-income nations.

Yet globally, the United States has fewer gun-related killings than many of its southern neighbors.

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According to the Small Arms Survey, El Salvador has the most homicides with firearms in the world – excluding areas with ongoing wars – with more than 90 people killed for every 100,000 inhabitants.

Between 2010 and 2015, Honduras had the highest rates of homicides related to firearms: 67 out of every 100,000 people there.

Venezuela and El Salvador are very close in that same five-year period, with 52 and 49 firearm-related deaths, respectively, per 100,000 inhabitants.

While the United States rate during that period is 4.5 homicides related to firearms per 100,000 people. US law enforcement agencies are not required to report gun killings by the Police. Such incidents are often recorded as “justifiable homicides” and may or may not be included in official homicide statistics, according to the Small Arms Survey.

Editor’s note: article originally published in February 2018 and updated

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