Someone wound up here searching for “How many people die by guns each minute.”

According to some of Handgun Control Inc’s propaganda, “five Americans are killed by guns every minute.”

But before we let the numbers speak for themselves, let’s do some math. Not hard math, just third grade math.

For starters, there are 60 minutes to the hour, and 24 hours to the day. So there are 60 X 24 = 1,440 minutes to the day. And since there are 1,440 minutes in every day, and there are 365 days to the year, then 365 X 1,440 = 525,600 minutes to the year.

If Handgun Control, Inc’s propaganda were correct, guns would kill over two million Americans a year. But of course, that is absurd.

For 2006, the latest year “official” numbers are available, the total number of firearms deaths was said to 30,896. Call that one death every 17 minutes, or one 85th as many as the propagandists claim. But!

There is more to it than that. So let’s break those numbers down. Of the official 30,896 deaths, there were supposedly 16,883 suicides; 12,791 homicides; 642 firearms accidents: 360 deaths by “legal intervention” (“suicide by cop”); and 220 undetermined.

Some 9,200 of the 12,791 homicides are a result of either partnership or rivalry in some criminal enterprise.
Another 2,200 are “justifiable homicides,” usually some law abiding citizen defending himself or his family. Leaving some 2,400 non crime related, non justifiable, but gun related homicides.

Of suicides, there were a total of 33,300 suicides, and 16,883 were gun related. So 50.7% of officially adjudged suicides were gun related. That is a surprisingly low percentage, in a nation where two out of three Americans have at home access to guns.

It would be lower yet – if many sorts of intentional self harm were more obvious. For example, how many automobile accidents are a result of despondent drivers aiming for the bridge abutment instead of the road? I have spent more than forty years talking to coroners, medical examiners, pathologists, police, ambulance drivers – and witnesses. And I believe that a substantial number of suicides are reported as accidents.

In fact, one coroner told me flatly that “I will not report a death as a suicide unless they leave a note.” Another said he would not void a suicide’s life insurance policies by reporting any death as a suicide, unless there was no other option. So the actual number of suicides is probably very much higher than 33,300. But the number of gun related suicides remains at 16,883 – because a bullet hole is hard to ignore.

What about accidents? Forty years ago, the National Safety Council pegged the annual number of accidental gun deaths at more than 6,000 a year. The present total is about one tenth of that. Thanks to the hard work of the National Rifle Association and gun clubs across America.

So here is the larger picture. Officially, an American is murdered every 41 minutes. One American is murdered by a partner or a rival in crime every 57 minutes. One American is murdered in a non-crime non-criminal-activity related homicide every 219 minutes. And one predatory criminal is shot down in a justifiable homicide every 239 minutes.

Officially, one American commits suicide every 15.8 minutes, or unofficially, one American commits suicide every 10 to 12 minutes. One American chooses to end their life with a gun every 31 minutes.

One American dies in a gun accident every 819 minutes – just under one every 14 hours – but a very high percentage of those accidents are actually suicides. Or cleverly concealed homicides.

How many children die in a gun accident? The number of children 15 and under who die in gun accidents is so low the Census Bureau does not keep a total.


About Stranger

A collaborative effort, Extranos Alley is primarily concerned with providing up to date data on the relationships between privately woned firearms and crime, violence, and politics. The site is maintained by nine volunteers who have given up their identity that the work here may be considered without regard to the individual data. The contributors are a diverse group, ranging from a retired physicist to a board certified psychologist.
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