Most Americans think that gun laws ought to be stricter, and it’s not hard to see why. A series of high-profile, high-casualty mass shootings from 2016 to 2018 have ensured that regulation of semiautomatic rifles remains a salient political issue. The public outrage is great enough that even the Trump administration has taken mild steps to regulate nearly-automatic weapons.
But the focus on mass shootings can obscure some key facts about gun violence in America, its causes, and how it differs from the rest of the rich world. Guns killed 38,658 people in 2016, of which 59 percent died from suicide. Mental illness is a minor part of the gun problem. And guns are basically the entire reason why the US has an unusually high homicide rate for a rich country.
Read on for more important, sometimes surprising facts about one of America’s most prominent national crises.