Findings Highlight Enormous Toll on Public Health and our Economy of Nonfatal Shootings; Burden Falls Most Heavily on Black Teens and Young Men and in Low-Income, City Neighborhoods
Surviving a Shooting is One of the Strongest Predictors of Future Involvement With Violence; Better Data on Nonfatal Shootings Can Help Policymakers and Advocates Direct Services to Those at Highest Risk and Disrupt Cycles of Violence
NEW YORK — Hospital records from across the United States suggest that twice as many people are shot and wounded every year as are shot and killed, a new analysis published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine shows.
The most comprehensive estimate to date of the toll of nonfatal gunshot injuries, the peer-reviewed study estimates that 208 people are shot and wounded daily in the U.S., on average, and it provides data on where shootings occur and the demographic breakdown of survivors. This data is vital to informing policymakers, advocates, medical providers and community leaders so that they can better serve survivors and disrupt the cycle of violence.
“Focusing on nonfatal injuries is a crucial part of understanding and addressing America’s gun violence crisis,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, director of research for Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, one of the report’s authors. “Data about firearm deaths is more available because every death gets a death certificate, but more research is urgently needed on those who are shot and survive. This more complete picture of groups at highest risk can help illuminate the best ways for policymakers and communities to intervene.”
“The data on firearm injuries highlights the uneven toll that gun violence takes between different communities, making clear the need for policy interventions that address this reality,” said Dr. Ted R. Miller, principal research scientist at Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, one of the report’s authors. “Significantly, people living in low-income areas, either urban or rural, are more likely to be shot than other people.”
Researchers from Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund teamed up with researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation on the study.
In the absence of reliable government data on nonfatal shootings, the researchers utilized data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a suite of hospital care datasets, to calculate and examine the scope of this facet of the gun violence crisis. Key findings include:
- Between 2016 and 2018, 228,380 people were shot and wounded before being treated in a hospital emergency room or admitted to a hospital. That translates to an average of 208 people a day.
- Men and boys made up the vast majority — 87.3 percent — of people who were treated at an emergency department or admitted to a hospital after being shot and wounded.
- Young people ages 20 to 24 have the highest rate of nonfatal firearm injuries — a rate more than 10 times higher than the rates for patients younger than 15 or older than 60.
- Black people have the highest rate of firearm injuries requiring inpatient hospital treatment, more than nine times higher than the rate for white people.
- Twice as many Latino and Latina people are shot and wounded than non-Latino white people.
- Nearly one in 10 patients who were seen in hospitals after being shot and wounded was a child under the age of 18.
- More than half of hospital-treated, nonfatal firearm injuries were sustained by people living in ZIP codes with the lowest median household income, a sevenfold difference from patients residing in the highest income zip codes.
- Half of all nonfatal shootings occurred in 16 states of the American South: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. The rates in these states are roughly twice those of the Northeast and West. Additional information on nonfatal firearm injuries by state is available on EveryStat.org.
- In addition to the physical and emotional toll, these shootings are costing our country billions of dollars. The cost of nonfatal firearm injuries in 2018 was estimated at $2.7 billion for medical treatment alone, with an additional $20.6 billion for mental healthcare, police and criminal justice response, lost wages, and lost quality of life.
Being shot and wounded can have devastating physical and mental health and financial consequences for survivors. Federal funding exists through the Victim of Crime Act that can help survivors access life-changing resources, but as detailed in an Everytown report last month, administrative and legislative barriers are preventing survivors of gun violence from accessing millions of dollars of victim compensation each year.