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The Sandy Hook Massacre Was 6 Years Ago Today. This Year Had More School Shootings Than Ever.

Firearm deaths in the United States reached a 20-year high in 2017, and school shootings have skyrocketed

A woman holds a sign with an American flag dripping red and its stars replaced by bullets while protesting at a "March for our Lives" gathering on March 24, 2018.

A woman holds a sign with an American flag dripping red and its stars replaced by bullets while protesting at a "March for our Lives" gathering on March 24, 2018.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new data regarding gun deaths in the United States. It’s not good. According to the CDC’s WONDER database, 39,773 people died from gun violence in the United States in 2017. Adjusted for age, that comes out to 12.2 out of every 100,000 people. This is up from 10.3 out of every 100,000 people in 1999, the earliest year for which data was made available. According to the the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), the 12.2 number is the highest since 1996.

“In 2017, nearly 109 people died every single day from gun violence,” Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence Director of Public Health Research Adelyn Allchin said in a statement. “Gun violence is a public health epidemic that requires a public health solution, which is why we must immediately enact and implement evidence-based interventions – like permit-to-purchase policies and extreme risk laws.” Allchin added that “it is way past time that elected leaders at every level of government work together to make gun violence rare and abnormal.”

The record number of gun-related deaths is largely the result of a spike in suicides. Of the nearly 40,000 people in the United States who died from firearms in 2017, close to 24,000 killed themselves using a gun, the highest number in 18 years. Ninety-one percent of firearm suicides were committed by white Americans, 87 percent of which were men. Research has shown that access to firearms increases the likelihood of suicide. According to the EFSGV, the highest rates of gun suicides in 2017 occurred in the three states with the highest rate of gun ownership  Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. A correlation has also been found between easy access to guns and suicide, in general. “Studies show that most attempters act on impulse, in moments of panic or despair,” Harvard School of Public Health professor David Hemenway said in reference to a 2008 study conducted by the school. “Once the acute feelings ease, 90 percent do not go on to die by suicide.”

While firearms deaths in America have been increasingly steadily for the past 20 years, the rate of gun violence in schools exploded in 2018.

According to data from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, 2018 featured 93 school shooting incidents, 34 more than the previous high of 59 in 2006, and over double any other total recorded since 1970. “More than 3,200 kids and teens have been killed or injured by guns and there have been over 300 mass shootings in just this one year,” Sandy Hook Promise Co-Founder Nicole Hockley said in a statement released this week. “This is beyond unacceptable. It is inexcusable. Everyone has the power to stop violence before it starts, and we want to arm as many people as possible with the knowledge of how to keep their schools and communities safe.”

In August, the JAMA Network published a study comparing gun violence in the United States to other countries. While 12 out of 100,000 people in America died from firearms in 2017, the number in Canada was 2.1. In Germany it was 0.9. In the United Kingdom it was 0.3. In Japan, it was 0.2. This is America.

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