Gun Violence Data
"The time to talk is over and the time for action is now"
GUn violence is an epidemic
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: At around 11:30 PM on Saturday, July 26, 2014, neighbors of the Smith family in Saco, ME heard gunshots ring out. Maine State Police detectives arrived at the Smiths’ apartment to discover five bodies, all fatally shot. Finding a shotgun under Joel Smith’s body, police quickly identified the scene as a murder-suicide: Smith had shot and killed his wife Heather, their two children, and his stepson before turning the gun on himself.
There were several warning signs in advance of the shooting that suggested the Smith family was in danger. After the shooting, Joel’s father told police that his son was a heavy drinker and often used alcohol to cope with depression. And a family friend of the Smiths told police that, just days before the shooting, Heather confided that Joel had pointed a gun at his own head and threatened to kill himself.1
The story of the Smith family is devastating. But when it comes to mass shootings in the United States—incidents in which four or more people are shot and killed, not including the shooter—it fits a familiar pattern. Like the shooting of the Smith family, the majority of mass shootings in the United States are related to domestic or family violence. Furthermore, there are often warning signs in advance of these shootings—“red flags” indicating that the shooters posed a risk to themselves or others.
To better assess the reality of mass shootings in the United States—and to identify policies which could prevent them from occurring in the first place—Everytown analyzed every mass shooting we were able to identify in the United States from 2009-2016. This analysis uncovered the following findings:
- From 2009-2016 in the U.S., there have been 156 mass shootings—incidents in which four or more people were shot and killed, not including the shooter. These incidents resulted in 1,187 victims shot: 848 people were shot and killed, and 339 people were shot and injured.In addition, 66 perpetrators killed themselves after a mass shooting, and another 17 perpetrators were shot and killed by responding law enforcement.
- The majority of mass shootings--54 percent of cases—were related to domestic or family violence.
- Mass shootings significantly impacted children: 25 percent of mass shooting fatalities (211) were children. This is primarily driven by mass shootings related to domestic or family violence, in which over 40 percent of fatalities were children.
- In nearly half of the shootings--42 percent of cases—the shooter exhibited warning signs before the shootingindicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others. These red flags included acts, attempted acts, or threats of violence towards oneself or others; violations of protective orders; or evidence of ongoing substance abuse.
- More than one-third of the shootings--34 percent—involved a shooter who was prohibited from possessing firearms.
- Only ten percent of incidents took place in “gun-free zones”, or areas where civilians are prohibited from carrying firearms and there is not a regular armed law enforcement presence (armed security guards, for example). The vast majority of incidents—63 percent—took place entirely in private homes.
These findings reaffirm the value of gun violence prevention policies that address the circumstances underlying mass shootings: strong domestic violence laws that keep guns away from abusers, mechanisms that allow for the temporary removal of guns from individuals who have exhibited dangerous recent behavior, and background checks on all firearm sales to prevent people who are prohibited from having guns from buying them.
Everytown For Gun Safety