Why Don’t We Know How Many People Are Shot Each Year in America? - ProPublica
A new metric needs to be developed to better disseminate the numbers on gun violence…
How many Americans have been shot over the past 10 years? No one really knows. We don’t even know if the number of people shot annually has gone up or down over that time.
The government’s own numbers seem to conflict. One source of data on shooting victims suggests that gun-related violence has been declining for years, while another government estimate actually shows an increase in the number of people who have been shot. Each estimate is based on limited, incomplete data. Not even the FBI tracks the total number of nonfatal gunshot wounds.
“We know how many people die, but not how many are injured and survive,” said Dr. Demetrios Demetriades, a Los Angeles trauma surgeon who has been studying nationwide gunshot injury trends.
While the number of gun murders has decreased in recent years, there’s debate over whether this reflects a drop in the total number of shootings, or an improvement in how many lives emergency room doctors can save.
Doctors and researchers have been advocating for better gun injury data since the late 1980s. But fierce political battles over gun violence research — including pressure from congressional Republicans that put an end to some government-funded studies on firearms — has meant that we still don’t know many basic facts about gun violence in America.
“In the absence of real data, politicians and policymakers do what the hell they want,” Dr. David Livingston, the director of the New Jersey Trauma Center at University Hospital in Newark. said “They do what the hell they want anyway,” he added, “but in the absence of data, they have nobody to call them on it.”