Friday, November 21st, 2014

How does U.S. gun violence compare?

Yellow markers sit next to evidence, including a gas mask, as police investigate the scene outside the Century 16 movie theater east of the Aurora Mall in Aurora, Colo., the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history.
Yellow markers sit next to evidence, including a gas mask, as police investigate the scene outside the Century 16 movie theater east of the Aurora Mall in Aurora, Colo., the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history.

One of the many Facebook posts that circulated after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., said the United States has a remarkable amount of gun violence.

The post said, "USA is #1 in gun violence. Nearly 100,000 people get shot every year. That's 270 people a day and 87 dead because of gun violence every day."

We looked separately at two claims from this post.

We found one claim to be largely accurate -- that in the U.S., "nearly 100,000 people get shot every year. That's 270 people a day and 87 dead."

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we found that the number was very close at 104,852 -- with one major asterisk. That number includes 18,735 suicides, which some might consider to be beyond the definition of the phrase "get shot." On balance, we rated the statement Mostly True.

The other claim -- that the "USA is #1 in gun violence -- was not as accurate.

According to data collected by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, several other countries had more gun homicides than the U.S., and perhaps 17 countries had a higher rate of gun homicides than the U.S. when population is factored in. However, when comparing the U.S. to its most direct equivalents -- affluent nations in Europe and Asia -- the U.S. has far more gun homicides than they do. We rated this one Half True.