Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger Katz, © 2016 New York Times News Service
The mass shooting Sunday in Orlando, Florida, was appalling in scale: 49 killed in a single attack. But it’s not unusual for dozens of Americans to be killed by guns in a single day.
Gun homicides are a common cause of death in the United States, killing about as many people as car crashes (not counting van, truck, motorcycle or bus accidents). Some cases command our attention more than others, of course. Counting mass shootings that make headlines and the thousands of Americans murdered one or a few at a time, gunshot homicides totaled 8,124 in 2014, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
This level of violence makes the United States an extreme outlier when measured against the experience of other advanced countries.
Around the world, those countries have substantially lower rates of deaths from gun homicide. In Germany, being murdered with a gun is as uncommon as being killed by a falling object in the United States. About two people out of every million are killed in a gun homicide. Gun homicides are just as rare in several other European countries, including the Netherlands and Austria. In the United States, two per million is roughly the death rate for hypothermia or plane crashes.
In Poland and England, only about one out of every million people die in gun homicides each year — about as often as an American dies in an agricultural accident…