Guns Have Already Killed At Least 147 People In 2016

In the four days before President Obama announced his new executive actions on guns, at least 147 people were killed by them, according to a Vocativ analysis

Obama sheds a tear remembering the victims of Sandy Hook — (Getty Images)
Jan 05, 2016 at 12:26 PM ET

Obama couldn’t hold back tears Tuesday, remembering the young children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. The emotional moment took place as the president unveiled a new set of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence. As he called out the familiar litany of infamous mass shootings—Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino—Obama noted that smaller acts of gun violence are happening all the time. And he’s right: at least 147 people were killed by guns in the U.S. during just the first four days of 2016, according to a Vocativ analysis.

Just fifteen minutes had passed in 2016 before the year’s first fatal shooting. A man in his 40s was shot at 12:15 a.m. in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday. He died later that day. By 12 a.m. Monday morning, at least 147 people, including a two-year-old girl in a murder-suicide in Los Angeles, and an 80-year-old man in a second murder-suicide in Miami.

Vocativ tallied fatal shootings in 2016 by trawling Google for all mentions of gun-related deaths, and verified our findings with a database maintained by the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit, non-partisan project.

Vocativ’s analysis showed 119 men and 28 women across 34 states had been shot dead by Monday. The bloodiest day of the year thus far was January 1, during which 52 men and 14 women were shot dead.

That tally includes people who died from suicides committed using firearms. More than 60 percent of people who die from guns die by suicide, which is also the second-most common cause of death between the ages of 15 and 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because gun suicides are often not immediately reported by the media, Vocativ’s count is likely lower than the actual number. In 2013, according to the CDC, there were 33,636 firearm deaths in the U.S., including 21,175 suicides. Over four days, that works out to about 368 deaths.

The White House says the actions Obama announced will extend background checks for firearm purchases and better enforce federal gun laws. He intends to target the so-called “gun show loophole” and online gun merchants, working to force more dealers working at gun shows or online to conduct background checks before selling firearms.

Obama discussed the measures with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who stressed that the market for guns is changing, pointing out that more firearms are being bought online. “Gun sales are moving online not only to consumers but to the dark web where illicit activity takes place,” Lynch said in a press conference.

Under the actions, the FBI will hire over 230 additional examiners and other staff to work on what the White House termed a “more effective and efficient” background check system. Obama’s proposed budget for the 2017 fiscal year, to be announced next month, will also include money for 200 new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents and investigators. The Obama administration is also proposing $500 million in funding to, it says, increase access to mental health care, and moving to include more information about mental health in the background check process.