The last 12 months have presented a wealth of new knowledge and data about guns in America, The Trace reports in its year-end recap of “13 statistics that tell the story of gun violence in 2018.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figured in two of the data points: the 2017 tally of gun deaths showing the highest total in nearly half a century, and a “seriously flawed” CDC method of estimating nonfatal injuries that casts uncertainty on whether the numbers have gone up or down since the early 2000s. A key driver of those death statistics is suicide, a feature of American exceptionalism that produces a third of the people worldwide who die by gun suicide each year in a country with only 4 percent of the world’s population.
Other gun-violence data compiled by The Trace covered public policy and National Rifle Association finances. Before the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February, only five states had some type of “red flag” laws meant to keep deadly weapons away from volatile people. In the coming months, eight more states passed such laws. Meanwhile, the NRA’s clout as an opponent of tighter gun restrictions shrank, thanks in part to financial troubles that put its 2017 year-end deficit at $31 million. The NRA spent $9.7 million on the midterm elections, one-third of its 2014 midterm tally, while gun violence prevention groups spent $11 million and helped their candidates rack up wins even in red states.