American History History

The facts on U.S. gun violence

You may have seen this meme going around since the tragic incident in Sutherland Springs, but it’s not entirely accurate. Here are the facts.

You may have seen this meme going around since the tragic shooting in Sutherland Springs this weekend. It’s not completely accurate, because the shooter in Orlando used a different (though similar) weapon, and it leaves out some other shootings with the same weapon.

Let’s stick with the facts, though. Here are some:

2012 — Aurora movie theater shooting. Shooter used an AR-1512 dead, 70 wounded. 

2012 — Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. Shooter used an AR-15. There were 27 dead (20 children, 6 school staff and the shooter’s mother) and one wounded.

2013 — Santa Monica. Shooter used an AR-15. Five killed, four injured.

2014 — Reynold high school (Troutdale, OR). Shooter used an AR-15. One killed.

2015 — Umpqua Community College. Shooter used an AR-15. There were 9 people killed and 9 wounded.

2016 — Orlando night club shooting. Shooter used a Sig Sauer MCX, not an AR-15. He left 50 dead and 53 wounded.

2017 — Las Vegas. Shooter used an AR-15. There were 58 dead and 489 wounded.

2017 — Sutherland Springs church shooting. Shooter used an AR-15. There were 26 killed and at least 20 wounded.

That’s 188 dead and 646 wounded. (Shooter deaths are not included in the numbers above.)

Why do so many killers choose to use this specific weapon? Here’s some context for that. It basically boils down to, because they can kill the most people using this gun. Of course there have been several terrible events using handguns in the last several years, including the Charleston shooting and the Virginia Tech shooting.

Studies show more guns equals more homicides.

Over 1,500 mass shootings have taken place since the Sandy Hook shooting.

States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun deaths.

Gun control could decrease the suicide rate. (Australia’s buy back program reduced firearm suicides by 74%.) Two-thirds of U.S. gun deaths are suicides.

States with higher gun ownership kill more police officers.

According to the CDC statistics:

In 2011, in the United States, gun deaths were at 32,351.

2012: 33,563 gun deaths in the U.S.

2013: 33,636 gun deaths in the U.S.

2014: 33,599 gun deaths in the U.S.

2015: 36,252 gun deaths in the U.S.

2016 numbers are not in yet, but the CDC says it will increase again.


“It is my second amendment right to own a firearm.”

No one has suggested otherwise. No one is trying to get rid of all the guns in the U.S.

Gun laws don’t prevent gun deaths.

See above. It appears they do.

Some of the guns used in mass shootings were illegally attained.

Were the illegal avenues prosecuted? Is this an enforcement issue? Are those illegal avenues still available today?

If we made semi-automatic rifles illegal, there would still be mass shootings.

True. But fewer of them would be with semi-automatics which would presumably lower the death toll.

How will I fight the government without semi-automatic rifles?

Do you own tanks, jets, or nuclear submarines?

Stricter gun control is not the answer.

Okay. What is the answer? Here are some solutions that seem to be working from Canada, Japan, Australia and the UK to help with the brainstorming.

Listen, we don’t have to agree on what to do about gun deaths in the United States, but “don’t make gun control more strict” is not a solution, or even an attempt at a solution. The problem is “unacceptable levels of gun violence in the United States.” Let’s work together to find a solution to that.

P.S. It’s easy to lose sight of the victims in these conversations. For all those who have lost a loved one to gun violence of any kind, my condolences. I am sorry for your loss.

By Matt Mikalatos

Matt Mikalatos is a writer not a fighter.