USA: A Surprising Look at Gun Statistics

The PBS show Frontline has been a vanguard of intelligent journalism since 1983, and has a long list of awards to show for it (including a Pulitzer and over a dozen Peabodys).  So when they cast their gaze at gun statistics, they did so with customary rigor.  The numbers speak for themselves…
  • Number of firearms produced by US manufacturers every minute: 8
  • Number of handguns produced by US manufacturers every minute: 3
  • Average number of firearm thefts that occur every year in the US: 341,000
  • Number of federal firearms licensees in the US: 124,286
  • Number of ATF agents to regulate them: 391
  • Number of trace requests responded to by the ATF in 1996: 139,092
  • Number of ATF employees who work on trace requests: 41
  • Number of federal safety standards that apply to the manufacture of teddy bears: 4
  • Number of federal safety standards that apply to the manufacture of firearms: 0*
*The federal Consumer Product Safety Act, which imposes health and safety standards on consumer products, exempts firearms and ammunition from its requirements.
 

  • Percentage of L.A. High School students who say they could obtain a gun for less than $50: 25
  • Percentage of arrestees who say it is easy to get a gun illegally: 55
  • Cost of firearms assault injuries per fatal gunshot wound: $21,700
  • Total cost per survivor of gunshot wounds caused by assault: $260,000
  • Number of people killed by firearms every hour in America: 4
Similarly, the famed Index of Harper’s Magazine has been collecting data on all sorts of fascinating things since only a year after Frontline‘s debut.  Here’s what they’ve found on the subject…
  • Average age at which an inmate in federal prison first fired a gun: 13.2
  • Average age at which an inmate in federal prison first had sex: 13.7
  • Percentage of American gun owners who are white: 88
  • Percentage of American gun owners who are black: 6
  • Chances that an American pediatrician has treated a child for a gunshot wound in the last year: 1 in 6
  • Estimated portion of annual spending on the treatment of gunshot wounds that comes from the federal government: 1/2
  • Estimated gun sales prevented by background checks before the Supreme Court made them nonmandatory in 1997: 250,000

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