A recent report, The Annual Review of Public Health, summarizes the basic facts of firearm violence, a large and costly public health problem in the United States for which the mortality rate has remained unchanged for more than a decade. It presents findings for the present in light of recent trends. Risk for firearm violence varies substantially across demographic subsets of the population and between states in patterns that are quite different for suicide and homicide. Suicide is far more common than homicide and its rate is increasing; the homicide rate is decreasing. As with other important health problems, most cases of fatal firearm violence arise from large but low-risk subsets of the population; risk and burden of illness are not distributed symmetrically. Compared with other industrialized nations, the United States has uniquely high mortality rates from firearm violence.
1. The overall fatality rate from firearm violence has not changed in more than a decade.
2. Suicide is the most common form of fatal firearm violence (64.0% of deaths in 2012) and is increasing. Homicide is decreasing.
3. Homicide risk is concentrated to a remarkable degree among Black males through much of the life span. Mortality rates from firearm violence are very high and unchanged in this group.
4. Suicide risk is highest among White males beginning in adolescence. They also account for most fatalities from firearm violence and have increasing mortality rates.
...but uniquely high mortality rates from firearm homicide and suicide.