As the nation reels again from mass shootings and gun violence – and really, when have we stopped reeling in recent years? – four graphics can tell us almost everything we need to know about the nature of gun violence in America. Despite what advocates of unfettered access to guns may say, the U.S. has pretty much the same rates of diagnosed mental illness as other countries that have a tiny fraction of the gun violence that occurs here. What we do have: unfettered access to guns and astonishing (and rising) rates of gun violence. That is American exceptionalism.

Here are those telling graphics:

1. Kids and gun violence

Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for American children.


2. Gun violence and mental illness

Mental illness is often stigmatized as being the cause of gun violence. Studies have shown that only a minority of mass shooters have experienced serious mental illness. It is estimated that 96% of the common violence that occurs would continue even if the elevated risk of violence among people with mental illness was eliminated.


3. The U.S. is an outlier in its homicide rate

No other wealthy country comes close to the homicide rate in the U.S.

Source: Everytown USA

4. The U.S. is an outlier its rate of gun ownership

There’s a strong link between rates of gun ownership and homicide by firearm.

Type of work:

Rob WatersFounding Editor

Rob Waters, the founding editor of MindSite News, is an award-winning health and mental health journalist. He was a contributing writer to Health Affairs and has worked as a staff reporter or editor at...