Our objective was simple: Examine America’s relationship to guns -- the lives they save, the lives they take, and the lives they define.
We’d seen the statistics. More than 32,000 people were killed by gunfire in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70,000 suffered nonfatal injuries from guns.
Attention is often focused on mass shootings or high-profile cases, but gun violence affects our communities in many other ways every day. We wanted to find out what one day of gun violence looks like.
We chose July 12, 2014, because it was a normal summer Saturday. Our goal was to report every shooting that happened in that 24-hour period. We tried to track the shootings in real time, calling police stations, using social media and tapping into CNN resources across the country.
In the days and weeks that followed, we dug deeper into the incidents, which left at least 35 people dead and 74 injured. We followed up on every shooting, and we profile six incidents that were representative.
After hundreds of calls, we are certain about one thing -- we did not capture every gun incident. Despite our best efforts, our methodology is incomplete. There’s no national database of each shot fired. Not every shooting is reported to police. Suicides are rarely covered in the media and often remain private matters.
What we do know is that firearms are far and away the most-used of homicide weapons in the U.S. Of the 13,000 people slain in 2010, more than two-thirds were shot to death, according to the FBI. (Only a small fraction of homicides, around 200 or so per year, are listed as justifiable). We also know that the homicide rate has dropped substantially in the past two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.
CNN is not alone in attempting to document the impact and the role of guns in U.S. society. Our counterparts at Pro Publica, Slate, The New York Times and others have done in-depth reporting on the issue recently. We recommend you read those articles as well.
Still, the story of everyday gun violence in the United States is largely untold.
This map represents bits and pieces of that story. It tells us that on an average day, people use guns to hurt themselves and others. They shoot out of spite, for revenge or by accident. On an average day, people use guns to defend themselves and others. On an average day, children, adults, police and criminals are among those using guns.
Someone is the shooter, someone the survivor, the witness, the traumatized, the dead. And when the weapon is high-caliber, the impact can be more deadly.
These aren’t the stories that tend to make national headlines. These are the stories that happen every day.
Sources: In gathering information for this map, we relied on CNN resources across the country. We also used social media, DataMinr and AlertID.