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Counting All U.S. Gun Deaths Since Sandy Hook Via Twitter
© Image: Slate / Screenshot by Eric Mack

Counting All U.S. Gun Deaths Since Sandy Hook Via Twitter

The tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Connecticut earlier this month thrust the issue of gun violence back into the spotlight, but it's tough to discern whether or not the total number of homicides that involve guns in the United States is really as bad as the awful headlines of recent years would have us believe. 

The FBI tells us that overall violent crime has been declining for years now, and as the graph below from Duke's Kieran Healy shows us, the United States is indeed more violent than other developed nations, but there's not nearly as much violence now as in past decades

And yet each month, a new name and location seems to get etched into our collective memory of terrible events -- Newtown, Aurora, Portland, Milwaukee, Wilmington, Seattle, Oakland and at least nine more towns that were the site of mass shootings in 2012 alone.

These places and the associated news stories are all that most of us have to help us form our perceptions of just how bad the problem is. The actual, official statistics on gun-related deaths for this year won't be available for at least a few more years. 

But there could be another way to get a handle on just how bad our gun violence problem still is today beyond the horrifying mass murders that draw so much attention.

Slate has recently teamed up with the person (or people) behind the the anonymous Twitter account @GunDeaths, which has been tweeting every gun death in North America for months already.

Slate is also asking for help from the crowd by soliciting people to tweet or email any gun deaths that might have been missed.

The online publication has begun compiling and mapping the resulting data to create an actual, (more or less) real-time tally of gun deaths in America for the first time.

The results are sobering, with the current total number of deaths at the hands of firearms for Christmas Day alone standing at 129.

The whole project is open source and available via this Google Doc and Slate is feeding all that data into an interactive graphic that breaks down by state, age and gender, giving us the whole, crowdsourced picture of gun violence in America that's been missing until now.

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