Each year, more than 40,000 Americans are killed in acts of gun violence and approximately 85,000 are injured by gunfire. This equates to more than 110 people shot and killed each day in the United States and more than 200 people injured by gunfire. But the trauma of gun violence doesn’t end when a shooting stops.
Across the United States, people from all walks of life have been affected by this public health epidemic. In a national survey, 58% of adults reported that they or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime. In addition, millions of people are injured by gunfire, threatened with a gun, or witness an act of gun violence in their lifetime.
For this reason, Everytown for Gun Safety celebrates National Gun Violence Survivors Week every year in February.
Experiencing gun violence has lasting emotional, physical, legal and economic impacts on survivors and their communities. The breadth and diversity of the survivor experience is directly related to the wide-ranging nature of the U.S. gun violence crisis. Gun violence can take many forms, including gun suicides and suicide attempts, gun homicides and assaults, domestic violence involving a gun, school shootings, shootings by police, and unintentional shootings, among other incidents.
Identifying as a survivor of gun violence encompasses many different experiences: witnessing an act of gun violence, receiving threats with or being injured by a gun, or having an acquaintance or loved one injured or killed with a gun.
However, America’s culture of silence regarding gun violence means that too often we do not talk about or fully understand the lifelong impact on survivors. One of the consequences of this silence is that many survivors do not receive the support and services they need to live with and overcome this trauma. To help break this silence, a survey of 650 survivors was conducted at the end of 2021. The data show the magnitude of the gun violence epidemic in the United States and the lasting impact on individuals and communities. The main findings include:
- Nine out of 10 survivors of gun violence report being traumatised by the incident.
- More than half of those who had experienced gun violence in the past year rated the trauma as 5 out of 5.
- Nurses, doctors or hospital staff were the ones most likely to say they experienced the impact through their work, followed by staff working in schools.
- Two-thirds of the injured survivors expressed the need for mental health services, therapy and support.
- Nearly one in three survivors said they needed legal assistance as a victim or for the death of a family member.
- One in three survivors said they needed financial support to help cover funeral or medical costs or to compensate for income lost due to death or injury.
Everytown Research & Policy presents the report divided into five sections that discuss the grief and pain of gun death, focusing primarily on the experiences of survivors.