Gun violence is a fixture in American life – but the issue is a highly political one, pitting gun control advocates against people who are fiercely protective of their right to bear arms.
The BBC looked into some of the numbers behind firearms in the US.
Mass shootings on the rise
There have been more than 130 mass shootings across the US so far this year, including the attack at a school in Nashville, in which three children and three adults were killed.
Figures from the Gun Violence Archive – a non-profit research database – show that the number of mass shootings has gone up significantly in recent years.
In each of the last three years, there have been more than 600 mass shootings, almost two a day on average.
While the US does not have a single definition for “mass shootings”, the Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are injured or killed. Their figures include shootings that happen in homes and in public places.
The deadliest such attack, in Las Vegas in 2017, killed more than 50 people and left 500 wounded. The vast majority of mass shootings, however, leave fewer than 10 people dead.
How do US gun deaths break down?
48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in the US during 2021, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That’s nearly an 8% increase from 2020, which was a record-breaking year for firearm deaths.
While mass shootings and gun murders (homicides) generally garner much media attention, more than half of the total in 2021 were suicides.
That year, more than 20,000 of the deaths were homicides, according to the CDC.
Data shows more than 50 people are killed each day by a firearm in the US.
That’s a significantly larger proportion of homicides than is the case in Canada, Australia, England and Wales, and many other countries.
How many guns are there in the US?
While calculating the number of guns in private hands around the world is difficult, the latest figures from the Small Arms Survey – a Swiss-based research project – estimated that there were 390 million guns in circulation in the US in 2018.
The US ratio of 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, up from 88 per 100 in 2011, far surpasses that of other countries around the world.
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