Infographic: The 9,595 Americans Killed By Guns In 2010

How do you depict the 400,000 years of life lost to guns annually? Not by aggregating, but by showing each life as a discrete line.

Lately, there’s a lot of talk on assault rifle bans, and whether it’s an individual’s constitutional right to own a weapon capable of slaughtering a room full of people in moments. And as important as all of that debate may be, I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing the larger point: 69% of gun murders are from easily concealed handguns.


It’s one of many thoughts that rushes through my head while watching this infographic on U.S. gun murders in 2010. Created by Kim Rees and Dino Citraro from Periscopic, the stark animation traces every single one of the 9,595 lives lost to gun murders that year. It’s as much a memorial as anything else.

“We’re hoping that people will see these individual victims,” the team tells Co.Design. “We’re not looking at aggregate numbers. We’re not trying to analyze this data. This data was living and breathing, and has now been extinguished. We’re hoping to keep their flames living on in the hearts of others.”

That word “flame” plays out literally. A black background is cut with a burning orange or yellow arc of light (a person’s life). Upon death, they fall from the sky, and a “ghost lift” line finishes their trajectory. It’s absolutely cutting to look at, especially after a few moments, when the graphic just inundates you with lost life–what adds up to 400,000 years of living, taken by bullets.

“The idea of using arcs is to harken to the nature of life–a birth, growth, an apex, a waning, and finally death,” the team explains. “Above all, we wanted to respect the individual victims of these crimes. The focus was on the huge potential that was lost–babies who would have grown old, kids entering college who had so many things left to do in the world.”

Once the visualization is complete, the user is free to click through the data to explore more. A particularly smart toggle will show you a stat mirrored by its complement. So while you see that 10 20-year-old women were murdered by guns in 2010, and that number seems so small, it’s presented with a data shadow of the 420 men who were killed by guns in that same age range. Through data design alone, it’s inherently impossible to look at the bright side. The context reminds us that there isn’t and will never be a good way to spin these numbers.

See it here.


[Image: Holes via Shutterstock]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.