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Firearms, which include a wide range of handguns and rifles, account for three out of every five murders committed in America. Most handguns are fast and easy to use and require little, if any, training. With a gun, it doesn't matter how big, or physically able you are, anyone from a small child to an elderly person can pull a trigger.

Women rarely commit murder, but when they do, a gun is most often the weapon they chose because it eliminates the physical differences between the sexes, allowing a hundred pound woman to kill a three hundred pound man, when any other weapon must be used at close range and can easily be taken from her. Following are a few ways to tell murder from suicide. Where on the body the injury occurred: A shot to the side of the head, in the mouth, or to the front of the chest is usually suicide.

Wounds located anywhere else are most likely homicide. Distance of gun from the body: Most suicide shots are at contact or near contact range, causing a burn mark around the wound and leaving gunpowder residue which can be wiped off. At contact range, and if the gun is fired just above a bone, such as the skull or the sternum, a star-like wound is produced.

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Anything further away is likely homicide. Angle of the shot: Most suicide shots are angled slightly upward. Number of shots fired: After one shot, even if a suicide victim isn't dead, he would likely be unconscious or physically unable to fire a second time. Multiple shots usually indicate homicide. Presence of gunpowder residue on victims hand: If a man shot himself, there would be powder residue from unburned carbon on the hand that fired the gun. Shots through clothing: A suicide victim will rarely shoot through clothing. If he shoots himself in the chest, which is unusual, he will open his shirt to expose the skin.

Shots through clothing suggest homicide. History, a note, other factors: If the victim left a suicide note, or was known to have personal problems, or if there was evidence of drug use or drinking, suicide is likely. Evidence of a struggle: If there are scratches, cuts, bruises, homicide is likely.

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How fast a person dies depends significantly on where the wound is located and how quickly he can get help. A shot to the head might kill, or it might not. A shot to the abdomen might take hours to kill the victim, or he might bleed to death in half that time.

A gunshot victim can be rushed to the hospital, have a bullet removed from his abdomen, be well on the road to recovery, then die a week later from some unforeseen infection. Anything can and does happen, which makes any scenario you come up with feasible for the needs of your story. Knives Knives are close-combat weapons. Unlike firearms, which allow you to murder at a distance, knives involve direct contact between the victim and the assailant.

Because of this, a man usually stabs another man, or a woman.

It's very rare for a woman to stab a man, even in crimes of passion, because it's much too easy for a larger, stronger male to overcome his smaller, weaker assailant. Most crimes of passion involve a man killing a woman with whatever weapon happens to be within reach, a kitchen knife, a fireplace poker, a heavy vase, or any number of other blunt objects. When a woman kills a man in a crime of passion, it's most often with a gun, his own if it's available.

Women tend to see a kind of justice in killing a man with his own weapon. As with gunshot wounds, there are several factors to be taken into consideration when determining if a death is homicide or suicide. Defensive cuts: In a homicide, there will be defensive cuts on the palms of the victim's hands and on the underside of her arms as she tries to fight off her attacker. Number of wounds and their location: A murder usually involves multiple stab wounds to the side, back or stomach. In a suicide, while there may be additional cuts across the wrist and tentative test stabbings to see if it will hurt, or to work up courage, there will usually only be one wound and most likely in the chest.

Location of the murder weapon: In a suicide, the weapon will be at the scene with the victim's fingerprints on it. In a homicide, the weapon is often missing. Presence of a note: A suicide victim will almost always leave a note. Stabbing through clothing: A suicide victim will rarely stab herself through her clothing, instead she will open her shirt to expose the skin.

Stabbing through clothing, even if there's only one wound, may indicate homicide. Most people who commit suicide by hanging, jump from a chair or a ladder, choking to death slowly. Rarely is the neck broken. In order to break a neck, a drop of six feet or more is required, which rarely happens except in execution hanging. Hanging, whether done with rope, an electrical cord or a belt, always leaves an inverted V bruise, and is easy to tell from ligature strangulation murder , which leaves a straight-line bruise.

Hanging compresses the veins, but arterial blood flow continues, causing small bleeding sites on the lips, inside the mouth and on the eyelids. As with ligature strangulation, the face and neck are congested with blood and become dark red. Ligature strangulations are almost always homicide and the victims are almost always women. Often the murderer uses more force than necessary to kill the victim, causing deep bruises and abrasions around the neck. The victim will usually struggle, which results in damage to both the interior and exterior structures of the neck and throat. Accidental strangulation is rare, but does happen, usually when a tie or a scarf gets caught in power machinery. Consider causing a murder that looks like an accident by catching a woman's scarf into machine gears.

Or hanging a man by pushing him off a chair and making it look like suicide? The police would have a very tough time proving it wasn't. Drowning Drowning is a type of suffocation; the water prevents oxygen from getting to the brain. It's a slow, agonizing death with the victim struggling desperately to stay alive. Because of this, suicidal drowning is very uncommon. Once the lack of oxygen makes itself felt, the victim's survival instinct takes over until all he can think about is getting air into his lungs. As President Donald Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill contemplate policy responses , here are 10 common questions about gun deaths in the U.

You can also explore key public opinion findings about gun violence and gun policy in the U. In , the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39, people died from gun-related injuries in the U. This figure includes gun murders and gun suicides, along with three other, less common types of gun-related deaths tracked by the CDC: those that were unintentional, involved law enforcement or whose circumstances could not be determined. It excludes deaths in which gunshot injuries played a contributing, but not principal, role.

CDC fatality statistics are based on information contained in death certificates. Though they tend to get less attention than gun-related murders, suicides have long accounted for the majority of U. In , six-in-ten gun-related deaths in the U. The remainder were unintentional , involved law enforcement or had undetermined circumstances Three-quarters of all U. The 39, total gun deaths in were the most since at least , the earliest year for which the CDC has online data. This was slightly more than the 39, gun deaths recorded in the prior peak year of Gun suicides reached their highest recorded level in But the number of gun murders remained far below the peak in , when there were 18, gun homicides — and when overall violent crime levels in the U.

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While saw the highest total number of gun deaths in the U. On a per capita basis, there were 12 gun deaths per , people in — the highest rate in more than two decades, but still well below the The gun murder and gun suicide rates in the U. There were 4.

And the rate of gun suicides — 6. The rate of gun fatalities varies widely from state to state. In , the states with the highest rates of gun-related deaths — counting murders, suicides and all other categories tracked by the CDC — were Alaska The states with the lowest rates were New Jersey 5. The gun death rate in the U.

But it is still far below the rates in several Latin American nations, according to a study of countries and territories by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The U. That was far higher than in countries such as Canada 2. But the rate in the U. Overall, the U. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.