Important info, infographics & actions on gun violence

The tragic shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado has received non-stop coverage. Much of it, however, has been abysmally irresponsible, transforming a potential moment for national reflection and discussion on gun laws, mental illness, and popular culture into frenzied sensationalism. Of course, we must mourn the victims, but in the name of the victims, and to prevent more victims, we need to engage in this conversation. Some see this as an inappropriate politicization of tragedy. I see it as a way to prevent more tragedy, and a matter of life and death. If you care about the victims, you need to care about the policies and politics that shape our realities, lives, and deaths. Here are some things you should know about gun violence that you won’t hear from the so-called mainstream media.

The Brady Campaign against Gun Violence explores the relationship between women and gun violence. “U.S. women’s firearm death rate is 12 times higher than the combined rate of 22 other populous, high-income countries.” You can sign the Brady Campaign’s petition to Congress here.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns documents that 34 Americans are killed everyday with guns. You can sign their petition to Congress calling for background checks here.

As this  interactive map demonstrates, the United States is ranked 1 in the world for civilian gun ownership, with 88.8 guns per 100 people. 9,146 homicides, or 60% of all homicides in the last year in the United States were caused by guns. Compare this to England and Wales, where 41 homicides, or 6.6% of all homicides were caused by firearms.

As this care2 infographic (below the jump) points out, abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their partner has a gun. 

You can sign Care2’s “No More Massacres: Tell Candidates to Take a Stand on Gun Control” petition here.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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  • Emily

    One of the things that always shocks me after a tragedy like this is the number of people that start advocating for MORE guns. People say things like, “If someone had had a gun, they would have been able to stop him.” I’ve heard this argument after numerous shootings. I will never understand how people can believe that more guns are the answer to stop gun violence. I wish people could understand that guns are not something that every average citizen should have for no reason, and that reducing the number of people that do have access to guns would reduce gun violence, not more guns.

    • Larry Arnold

      You didn’t hear the “if someone had a gun” after the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, because CHL Jeanne Assam did have a 9mm, and used it to save about a hundred lives.

      I don’t understand why every time there’s yet another mass killing in yet another “gun free zone” some people want to make more “gun free zones.”

      • ADHD PhD

        New Life Church is also a “gun free” zone. At the time of the shooting Jeanne Assam was volunteering as a security guard for her church, and she and a few others with military and law-enforcement training had special permission to carry from the pastor.

        During the shooting, while Assam and two other armed guards were sizing up the situation, a man who was not in the security team tried to get involved and instead became another casualty. Several other church-goers ran to their cars to get their guns just as the police arrived, and were nearly mistaken for additional gunmen.

        So really the New Life Church shooting is an argument for why only a small, well-trained group of people should be able to have guns, but the majority of people can’t be trusted to use them properly.

  • Marlene

    You may notice, at the linked map, that Canadian gun ownership is lower than US gun ownership, but by nowhere near the factor that US gun deaths exceed Canadian gun deaths. Numbers of guns may be a factor, but not a numerically significant one.

    Calling for the ban of guns is easy, and actually solving social problems is hard.

    As a lefty/liberal/feminist gun owner, I feel that I should also point out that the Brady Campaign is as guilty as the NRA of lies and distortions and fearmongering that diminish the possibility for intelligent conversation and informed, thoughtful policy decisions on the subject of guns.

  • Amanda

    I hate to say it, but there’s only one piece of information here that supports the argument that guns make life more dangerous – namely, the stat that an abused woman is five times more likely to be killed if her abuser has a gun. That is a really scary and powerful statistic. It also seems to be the only piece of info here that shows that guns make murder more likely.

    Most of the rest of the data supports that more guns = more gun deaths (who’d’ve thought), but without any numbers on total murders, it doesn’t support that more guns = more murders overall. In England, where gun deaths are 6.6% of homicides, are there also way fewer homicides per capita, or is there a comparable number, just with different weapons? Leaving that information out makes these numbers seem misleading.

    Also, the other data here is totally useless without population normalization. The top chart presents the number that only 17 Finns are killed with guns, but that number is useless for comparison when you consider that there are only 5 million people in all of Finland. That’s 1/60th the population of the U.S. Now, you can calculation that if Finnland had a population comparable to the US, they’d have more than 800 deaths by guns every year. A factor of 10 difference, still meaningful, but not as dramatic as the nearly 1000x difference that the chart implies.

    Personally, I’m a supporter of gun control, and I don’t disagree with the argument; that’s why I’m disappointed to see it made in such an unconvincing way.

  • Heleen Van Grootven

    While I agree with the overall content of this post, the first infographic rubs me the wrong way, simply because it’s misrepresenting the issue. 17 deaths in Finland vs. 9848 in the US means nothing whatsoever if you don’t take the population of those respective countries into account.
    Based on the info in that graphic and the population data given by Wikipedia, 1 person out of 318 249 gets killed by a gun in Finland, compared to 1 person out of 33 105 in the US – in other words, one’s almost ten times more likely to get killed by a gun in the US than in Finland. While it’s not quite as viscerally horrifying as the difference between 17 and 9484, it’s still plenty horrible, and a correcter representation of the issue.

  • F.Toth

    I have a great idea: Let’s make murder illegal so it doesn’t happen.

    And so it is with guns. Making them illegal will not stop crazy people from being crazy.

    About three miles from where I live, a jeweller was robbed at gunpoint. With an illegally obtained weapon. It is nothing but the truth to say he saved his own life with his legally owned handgun.

    That infographic is embarrassingly bad and could be used in a class to teach how not to use stats. Comparing the US population with that of Finland? Really?

    I am a feminist and a gun owner, and some things should be cleared up. Again: guns no more kill people than pencils cause plagiarism. It is a ridiculously passive approach to blame the gun. And, WHICH gun? One obtained legally? Black market? Stolen? None of my guns has been involved in any illegal activity, and I’ve been a gun owner for 20 years.

  • Smiley

    I really don’t want to rain on your parade…

    I have the very same advert from 1980 before me (I cut it out at the time because it was striking). The 1980 version has a revolver, but the message is exactly the same.

    The figures?

    In 1979, 42 deaths (by handgun) in Germany. Now? 194 – three times higher.

    Canada? 52 in 1979. Now… 200.

    Great Britain: 8. Now: 39 in England and Wales (which are actually smaller than Great Britain).

    Those are the only countries mentioned in both adverts.

    Oh, and the USA. Down from 10 728 to 9 484.

    The USA is actually seeing a decrease in the number of homicides! The only country. What is going on?!

    • Smiley

      Sorry – Germany’s figure is five times the 1979 one.

  • F.Toth

    I’d very much like to see the numbers of legally owned guns/handguns involved in violence.

    And I mean REALLY legally owned. If a teen takes the family car without parental permission and commits a crime with it, the media generally reports the teen “stole” the car. Which is right. If a teen steals guns owned by the family, the media reports that the weapons were “legally obtained” which of course they were not.

    I’d also like to see what effect owning a gun has on a domestic partnership when it’s the woman who owns it.

    And to put things in perspective, over 30,000 deaths a year are the result of automobile accidents. THIRTY THOUSAND. Rather than banning cars, we generally resolve to make people more responsible with them.

    And Smiley, thanks for comparing the 1980 ad. That is really interesting.