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New FBI Crime Data Offers Reminder that Most U.S. Murders Are Committed with Guns

Six people shot and killed in St. Louis within 24 hours. Four shot and killed in the nation’s capital. Three people dead after shootings in Rochester, N.Y.

The last few days alone have been deadly ones in these cities, adding more and more families to the growing number touched by gun violence in the U.S. On Monday, the FBI released data showing that number grew far larger last year, and that — yet again — gun violence accounted for the clear majority of American murders, as defined by the FBI.

According to the FBI’s annual report on crime data, there were an estimated 17,284 reported murders in the U.S. last year, a rate of 5.3 murders per 100,000 people. Firearms were used in the majority (73 percent) of these murders, a proportion that has remained relatively consistent for the past five years.

There is growing momentum in the fight against gun violence. In cities, elected officials and local advocates from affected communities are deploying a number of evidence-based strategies, from a new hospital-based violence intervention program in St. Louis to the NEAR Act in Washington, D.C., that will provide new data on violence and require public health strategies to reduce gun violence. State legislatures in red states and blue states alike took action this year to strengthen their gun laws. And on the campaign trail, candidates for federal, state and local office are centering gun safety and pledging to support meaningful gun violence prevention legislation if elected.

Still, the data released Monday — and continuing reports of daily gun violence in communities across the country — underscore how critical gun violence prevention is to reducing murder in the U.S. With gun violence comprising such a large share of murders in the U.S., evidence-based approaches to preventing shootings could save thousands of lives each year.

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