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U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia, who became a gun-control advocate after her 17-year-old son was shot to death, tweeted on June 5 that she was praying the U.S. Senate would adopt the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act.
"Supporting my colleagues’ call on Senate Majority Leader to vote on H.R. 8, 1112 & 1158. Gun violence is an epidemic. Every day on average 500 people die from gun violence. How many more lives will we let gun violence claim?"
At 500 per day, that would be 182,500 deaths per year from gun violence in the United States.
The actual figure is nowhere near that high.
The legislation (H.R. 8) would establish new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties. Transfers would be prohibited unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. There would be some exceptions, such as a gift between spouses.
Currently, only federally licensed gun dealers, importers and manufacturers are required to conduct a background check for someone seeking to obtain a gun.
The House, which is controlled by Democrats, passed the bill 240-190 in February 2019. National Public Radio reported then that passage in the Republican-majority Senate is unlikely. The White House has signaled that President Donald Trump would veto the legislation, which is opposed by the NRA. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has declined to take up the bill.
When we last examined the numbers, earlier this year, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there had been 39,773 deaths related to firearms in 2017. 2017 is still the most recent year for which annual statistics from the CDC are available.
The figure counts deaths resulting from suicides (60 percent of the total), homicides, unintentional and undetermined deaths, as well as those from law enforcement. And it was the highest tally in at least 40 years.
Meanwhile, the average over five years — 2013 through 2017 — is slightly lower, according to Brady, the nonprofit formerly known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Either way, the total gun deaths per day is far fewer than the 500 Omar claims:
Total gun-related deaths, 2017: 39,773. Average per day: 109.
Average annual gun-related deaths, 2013-2017: 36,383. Average per day: 100.
Two other anti-gun violence groups — Everytown for Gun Safety, which McBath became a spokeswoman for after her son’s death; and Giffords, which is named for former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona — also use figures of 100 deaths per day or fewer.
To get near the figure that Omar used, you have to count nonfatal injuries as well as deaths.
For 2017, the daily average comes to 475 cases of gun-related deaths and injuries, based on CDC figures.
But the CDC itself says its injury estimate is "unstable because of small sample size." And an analysis by The Trace and FiveThirtyEight indicates the CDC could be overcounting the number of firearm injuries.
Finally, Amnesty International states that every day more than 500 people die from gun violence — around the world. That’s the figure Omar’s office cited to back up her statement, and it arguably is low.
A study published in 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association said there are about 250,000 gun deaths worldwide per year. That would amount to 685 per day.
But Omar’s claim was clearly made in the context of legislation that would affect gun transactions only in the United States.
Omar’s spokesman, Jeremy Slevin, defended Omar’s use of the 500 figure. But he acknowledged to us that Omar’s tweet was in the context of domestic legislation and that the reference to 500 could have been more precise.
Omar said, "Every day on average 500 people die from gun violence."
Her claim was made in promoting legislation that would add new background check requirements for gun transfers made in the United States.
Based on the latest federal figures, for 2017, the average per day was 109 — that’s counting deaths resulting from suicides, homicides, unintentional and undetermined deaths as well as those from law enforcement.
And it’s 100 if you use a five-year average for 2013 to 2017.
We rate Omar’s statement False.
Twitter, Rep. Ilhan Omar tweet, June 5, 2019
Congress.gov, "H.R.8 - Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019," accessed June 10, 2019
PolitiFact, "Does U.S. have more gun deaths in 1 day than other countries in 1 year?" Feb. 14, 2019
Email, Harvard Injury Control Research Center firearms researcher Deborah Azrael, June 10, 2019
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Fatal Injury Reports, National, Regional and State, 1981 - 2017," accessed June 10, 2019
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Nonfatal Injury Reports, 2000 - 2017," accessed June 10, 2019
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, "Gun violence in American," April 4, 2019
Associated Press, "Worldwide gun deaths reach 250,000 yearly; US ranks high," Aug. 28, 2018
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "Key gun violence statistics," accessed June 10, 2019
Email, Brady press secretary Max Samis, June 10, 2019
Amnesty International, "Gun violence — key facts," accessed June 10, 2019
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, "Statistics," accessed June 11, 2019
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