Misconceptions About Firearms in the United States

Jaeden Amiri-Owens, Staff Writer

In 2016, the CDC estimated that 38,000 people died from firearms-related deaths in the US. An increase in mass shootings and other gun homicides have caused a huge movement for increased gun control in the United States. This is one of the rare issues in which people will become extremely passionate and emotional, feelings which few other topics will evoke

But in order to properly make decisions, we must first know the facts. First, of the 38,000 that died, most were suicides. According to the CDC and numerous other sources, about two thirds of all deaths from firearms are suicides. And then there are accidents and unintentional deaths. Only approximately 11,004 of those deaths were homicides.

Many people are calling for the ban of several types of rifles, but it may surprise you to know that the FBI analyzed firearm homicides in 2016 and found that 65% of them were from handguns, 30% of them were from other or unknown types of guns, and only 6% were from rifles or shotguns.

Almost any discussion on guns must include the topic of mass shootings. Mass shootings are undoubtedly tragic events, but the truth is they make a up a relatively small portion of firearm deaths in the US. Because they are such horrific events, many people often focus on them when making arguments relating to gun control. This was very prominent in protests such as the March For Our Lives. Keep in mind, we have seen mass killings performed using weapons or items other than guns, albeit at much less frequent and deadly rates.

Another area of interest is the defensive use of guns. Statistics on this are hard to find, and the ones that do exist vary wildly. Information on how many times guns are used defensively each year ranges from around 65,000 to over a million, although most estimates are around 67,000. However, it is important to note than in most of these instances, a shot is never fired. In 70% to 95% of gun self-defense incidents, brandishing a weapon is enough to stop the crime being committed.

It is also important to bring up the issue of illegal weapons dealing. As you might expect, it is impossible to accurately measure the span of the illegal weapons market, but it is interesting to note that the online trade of illegal weapons is increasing.


In 2014, a teenager named Liam Lyburd bought a handgun and several other materials online, and he also constructed pipe bombs. Thankfully, the police were tipped off by a threatening facebook post by Liam and stopped his plot. During the trial, Liam said that buying the weapons was “like buying a bar of chocolate.”

In addition to the sale of regular weapons online, developments by an organization called Defense Distributed led to the creation of 3d printed fully (or almost fully) plastic firearms. These are only legal if metal is present in the weapons so that metal detectors can find them.

There are many misconceptions about firearms in the United States, and in order to properly understand the issue and argue for our opinions, we must each be informed.