21 Unbelievable Facts About Guns in America
Policy + Politics

21 Unbelievable Facts About Guns in America

REUTERS/Jeff Mitchell

With tears streaming down his face, President Obama vowed on Tuesday to curb the gun violence that has plagued the nation, with or without Congress. In his emotional speech, Obama outlined the executive action he is planning to place more restrictions on gun sales. 

A key part of the new initiative would require more gun sellers to obtain licenses, meaning they’d then be required to conduct background checks on potential customers to weed out prohibited buyers. Another provision would require that any firearm lost in transit between a manufacturer and a seller would be reported to federal authorities.  

The president said, though, that his measures wouldn’t be enough. “Congress still needs to act,” Obama said. “The folks in this room will not rest until Congress does. Because once Congress gets on board with common-sense gun safety measures, we can reduce gun violence a whole lot.” 

Related: Trump Takes on the ‘Obama Tears Truthers’ 

Obama’s executive action immediately came under fire from guns rights advocates. The executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, said, “the American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts.” 

As the gun control debate rages on in Washington, below are 19 facts that help explain how guns factor in to American life. 

31: Percentage of American households that reported having a firearm in 2014, the lowest level of reported gun ownership in the last 40 years. 

22.4: Percentage of adults in the U.S. who owned a gun as of 2014, up a bit from a record low of 20.6 percent in 2010. 

23 million: Number of background checks the FBI conducted in 2015, nearly three times the 8.5 million completed in 2000. 

11 million: Number of guns made in the U.S. in 2013, the year after the Sandy Hook massacre. That’s more than twice as many as the 5.4 million firearms produced in 2010. 

48: Percentage of Americans who cite protection as the main reason to own a gun, while 32 percent said hunting. In 1999, 49 percent of Americans said hunting was the main reason to own a gun, while just 26 percent said protection. 

15: Number of minutes that passed in 2016 before the first shooting of the year occurred — at 12:15 am on Jan. 1, 2016. 

39: Percentage by which gun-related homicides dropped between 1993 and 2011. 

Related: Obama Says Gun Control Won’t Happen During His Presidency 

2.97: Gun homicides per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 2012, compared to 38.97 in Venezuela, 0.51 in Canada, 0.19 in Germany, 0.14 in Australia, 0.07 in England and Wales and 0.06 in France, according to data compiled by The Guardian. 

310 million: Number of civilian firearms in the U.S. as of 2009, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report. The Washington Post found that if the number were to be updated with data from 2013, there would be more guns than people in the U.S. 

1892: Year in which the city of Kennesaw, Ga., passed legislation that requires all of its residents to carry guns. The law is still in effect, though there are a number of loopholes that residents can use to opt out. 

60: Percentage of people killed by guns who die by suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-most common cause of death for Americans between ages 15 and 34. Across all age groups, it ranks as the 10th most common cause of death. 

372: Number of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, according to data from Mass Shooting Tracker, which defines a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are killed or wounded. Last year, 475 people were killed and 1,870 were wounded. 

80: Percentage of people who carry out mass shootings who are using legally obtained firearms. 

27: Number of Americans killed in shooting incidents on Christmas day last year, equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Bermuda, Estonia, Iceland and Hong Kong, combined. 

16.4: Average number of “active shooting incidents” — individuals killing or trying to kill people in a populated area — per year between 2007 and 2013, up from 6.4 between 2000 and 2007. 

47: Percentage of Americans who say they are in favor of stricter gun laws, according to Gallup. This percentage is much lower than the 58 percent of people recorded in 2012 after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. 

85: Percentage of Americans who said they favor expanding background checks for gun buyers, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in July 2015. Both Democrats (88 percent) and Republicans (79 percent) supported the idea. 

$17 million: Amount of money the NRA spent on the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. 

Related: Obama’s Gun Control Micro-Moves Will Have Less Impact Than Stop & Frisk 

2,000 – 5,200: Estimated number of gun shows that take place in the U.S. each year. 

19.5/1: Ratio of people killed by firearms in the U.S. compared to other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, according to a 2011 UCLA School of Public Health study. For 15-to-24-year-olds, firearm homicide rates are 42.7 times higher in the U.S. than in other OECD countries. 

132.1: Rise in stock market value of gun-maker Smith & Wesson throughout 2015. The shares of gun-makers Strum Ruger and Vista also performed extraordinarily well last year, rising 72.1 and 29.9 percent, respectively.