The United States may have moved past the devastating surge of gun violence sparked by the pandemic, with preliminary data suggesting that homicides in 2023 declined by a record amount. Gun injuries have also dropped, and a growing list of states now have tighter laws on gun sales, which are at a four-year low. 

Still, the problem is far from over. The decline in homicides is uneven across the country, and 2023 has seen tens of thousands of people killed or wounded by guns. Mass shootings, while lower than the record in 2021, increased slightly year-over-year and remain well above the level endured a decade ago. 

Statistics help expose the toll of gun violence, illuminating both the progress and the challenges that lie ahead. Below, we share some of the figures that captured our attention this year.

-12.3 percent

The average decrease in homicides across U.S. cities in 2023

Americans tend to think that violent crime is rising, but the reality is that in much of the country, homicides have plummeted this year. Data from more than 175 cities shows that nearly three in four experienced a year-to-date drop in homicides, with many seeing homicides cut by half or more. The vast majority of homicides are committed with guns. According to crime data analyst Jeff Asher, 2023 is likely to conclude with one of the largest — if not the largest — national declines in homicide ever recorded. [AH Datalytics]


The number of firearm deaths, excluding suicides, in 2023

Gun deaths, excluding suicides, fell for the second straight year, down 7 percent from 2022’s total of more than 20,000. The decline reverses a trend that peaked during the pandemic in 2021 when the United States suffered the most gun deaths on record. This total comes from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, and it includes murders, accidental shootings, and homicides deemed legally justified. The Gun Violence Archive does not track suicides, which account for more than half of all gun deaths. [Gun Violence Archive]


The number of firearm injuries in 2023

Firearm injuries were also down, falling by nearly 6 percent from 2022, when there were more than 38,500. Tracking gun injuries is notoriously difficult. The Gun Violence Archive attempts it by monitoring media reports, which may not capture all incidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is piloting an initiative to track gun injuries more accurately in near real-time using hospital admissions data. [Gun Violence Archive]


The number of children and teenagers shot in 2023

Firearms surpassed motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of death among children and teenagers for the first time in 2020. Since the pandemic, most of these deaths have been homicides. This is in contrast to the U.S. population at large, for which suicide is the main driver of firearm death. Of the 6,192 children and teenagers under 18 who were shot in 2023, more than 1,600 died. [Gun Violence Archive]

A child weeps on a bus leaving The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, after a mass shooting at the school killed three 9-year-olds and three adults on March 27, 2023. Nicole Hester/The Tennessean via AP

$438 million

Federal grant funding awarded for community violence intervention programs and state crisis interventions since 2022

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act made available $250 million in grant funding for community-based organizations working to reduce gun violence. The Justice Department awarded the first round of $100 million grants in 2022, and followed that up with $90 million in 2023, bringing the total so far to nearly $200 million. Another $238 million has been provided under the BSCA to help states implement laws aimed at disarming dangerous people, mental health and drug courts, and other crisis interventions.

14 million

The number of guns Americans bought in 2023

Concerns over COVID-19, social unrest, and the presidential election pushed gun sales to record highs in 2020. Though gun sales have declined steadily since, 2023 may be the first time in four years that they have dipped to prepandemic levels. Through November, gun sales were slightly lower than the same period in 2016. [The Trace]

494.4 million

The cumulative total of firearms produced for the U.S. market since 1899

Though gun sales have slowed, the number of guns entering the U.S. market is still growing. In 2022, the latest year for which data is available, nearly 22.5 million guns entered the U.S. market through domestic production and imports. That’s a decline from 2021, but still one of the highest totals on record. [The Trace]


The number of states that expanded background checks, passed red flag laws, or imposed waiting periods on gun sales in 2023

While there was no major federal legislation to address gun violence in 2023, several states took action. Michigan and Minnesota expanded background checks to cover most private gun sales. They also passed Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, commonly known as red flag laws, which allow courts to issue orders to seize guns from people deemed imminently dangerous. Colorado, Vermont, and Washington state imposed waiting periods on firearm purchases, putting time between when a person buys a firearm and when they’re able to take possession of it. With these additions, 21 states now have red flag laws, 20 have expanded background checks, and 11 have waiting periods. [Giffords Law Center]

144.7 million

The population of states that allow concealed carry without a permit

To be sure, some states loosened their gun laws in 2023. Florida and Nebraska became the latest states to pass permitless carry laws. Twenty-seven states, with a combined population of 144.7 million people, now allow people to carry concealed firearms without a license. Though a majority of states have permitless carry laws, the majority of the U.S. population — 187.9 million people — lives in the 23 states that still require permits. [The Trace]

At least 30

The number of transgender and gender nonconforming people killed in 2023

Most of these homicides were committed with guns, and the majority of the victims were Black and Latinx women. Also, this total is likely an undercount, as deaths of transgender and gender nonconforming people often go unreported or misreported because the victims may be misgendered or deadnamed by law enforcement, media reports, or next of kin. [Human Rights Campaign]


The number of times a person has used an AR-style rifle to defend life or property since 2014

Supporters of AR-15s and other AR-style weapons often used in mass shootings and racist attacks say these weapons are important for self-defense. But The Trace analyzed Gun Violence Archive data and found that over nearly a decade, there were just 51 recorded incidents in which legal gun owners brandished or used an AR-style rifle to defend life or property. That averages out to around five self-defense incidents per year. [The Trace]


The number of mass shootings in 2023

2023 has endured the second-highest number of mass shootings on record, falling only behind 2021, which saw 689 mass shootings. The total increased slightly from 646 in 2022. The mass shootings in 2023 killed 712 people and injured at least 2,692 others. 

Defined as incidents in which at least four people were shot, mass shootings have increased more than 150 percent since 2013, when there were 255. A Trace analysis of a decade of mass shooting data found that less and less of the country is untouched. More than 44 percent of mass shootings were outside of cities — in suburbs, small and medium towns, and rural areas.  [Gun Violence Archive]

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on January 5, 2024, with the most recent statistics from 2023.