National Gun Crime Report Exposes the Reality of Illegal Gunfire in America

SST ShotSpotter’s Inaugural 2013 National Gunfire Index Reveals Gunshots are both Vastly Under-Estimated and Under-Reported

NEWARK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- SST, Inc., the maker of ShotSpotter and the global leader in gunfire detection, location, alerting and analysis, today released its 2013 National Gunfire Index™ which provides the most comprehensive, detailed and accurate data available on gunfire activity across the United States.

SST collected and analyzed gunfire data from a statistical sample of 48 American cities, coast-to-coast, where SST’s ShotSpotter® Flex℠ gunfire detection is currently deployed and used by law enforcement agencies and cities. The coverage area totaled over 165 square miles of urban America and averaged approximately 3.8 square miles per community.


Providing a more complete picture of the scale and the persistent nature of gunfire activity in the U.S., the 2013 National Gunfire Index delivers powerful and otherwise unknowable insights into urban gun violence:

  1. Total Gunfire Activity: In 2013, well over 51,000 separate incidents of gunfire were confirmed to have occurred in the reported areas alone. Of those, more than 7,000 (15%) took place in just two holiday periods – during New Year’s Eve/Day and July fourth. This was an average of 1 incident every 10 minutes nationwide on Friday and Saturday nights between 10pm and 2am – every week.
  2. Highest rate of gunfire: Detailed comparative analysis revealed the city with the highest rate of gunfire experienced 1,065 gunfire incidents per square mile, 3.9 times the national average of 273 incidents per square mile. On average, 3.1 rounds were fired per incident, resulting in more than 8 bullets discharged per day, every single day for an entire year within that single square mile.
  3. The number of gunshot homicides is a tiny fraction of the number of gunfire incidents. Traditional measures of gun violence—homicides, shootings involving injury, and victimization surveys—grossly underestimate the true scope of daily gunfire activity. Over a 5-year period, an average of 1,125 gunshot homicides took place across the cities in the sample. For each of those, there were an average of 129 gunfire incidents per gunshot homicide, and there were an average of 396 rounds (bullets) fired per gunshot homicide, which translates to a rate of bullets fired to gunshot homicides of 396:1.
  4. Gunfire is vastly under-reported. The vast majority of gunshots are not reported through 9-1-1 calls. In fact, comparing the number of 9-1-1 calls reporting shots fired to the number of ShotSpotter detections of gunfire reveals that fewer than 1 in 5 unlawful shootings are reported. Sadly, the communities most impacted by gun violence are the least likely to call police, with some neighborhoods calling in gunshots less than 10% of the time.
  5. Seasonality: There is strong seasonal, day of week, and time of day variance in gunfire rates, and 42% of all gunfire incidents take place in the summer months from June through August.

The gun policy implications of these heretofore statistically unconfirmed findings are significant.


The data in the 2013 National Gunfire Index is unprecedented, detailed and actionable. Although it represents just 48 key U.S. cities, it can provide researchers and policy makers with ground truth data necessary to investigate the impact[s] of illegal gunfire activity. SST does not attempt to draw direct correlations between violence in our urban communities and public health issues.

“In many ways this report spells out the ‘inconvenient truth’ about gun violence in terms of scale, intensity, and most importantly, the potentially catastrophic consequences downstream if not addressed,” stated Ralph A. Clark, president and chief executive officer of SST, Inc. “Our goal in making this 2013 index available is to spark a more informed discussion about the impact of gun violence on public health outcomes. The Index is a launch pad for the work of others: it demonstrates the ‘art of the possible’ and will enable social scientists in respected institutions and policy makers to do the analysis and draw the correlations between gun violence and many facets of community public health, such as child development and trauma-induced PTSD. We hope to expand the gun violence discussion beyond the typical definition of a gunshot victim to include the huge number of individuals who suffer emotional scars from not being afforded the basic human right of personal security.”

“Criminal gunfire is an unfortunate reality of the urban landscape – but it’s intolerable and does not have to be accepted,” stated Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn. “Gun fire data is critical, not just in our law enforcement and crime suppression efforts, but more importantly, it is a tool to help build community confidence and engagement, empowering our citizens to work side by side with us as we address gun crime. Our residents have the moral right to pursue the American Dream and raise their children in peace.”

“The gunfire index highlights the shocking frequency of traumatic events suffered by children and young adults growing up in our underserved communities,” stated Dr. Steven Marans, Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry at Yale where he directs the Childhood Violent Trauma Center. “As public health professionals, we know all too well that the trauma and fear associated with gun violence can compromise development and lead to physical and mental health difficulties that can last a lifetime. Identifying the scope and location of gun violence is a critical first step toward identifying those whose lives are so directly impacted by it and affording them the help they need to recover, feel safe and to reclaim control of their communities.”

SST is actively working with government agencies and private organizations to ensure that this data is accessible to those in a position to leverage the findings to develop proactive policy and policing strategies with the aim of ending illegal gunfire.

Index Methodology

ShotSpotter gunfire alert and analysis solutions are deployed in over than 80 cities nationwide. For the 2013 Index, SST aggregated ShotSpotter data from 48 of those cities. Since January 1, 2013, SST has added 14 cities to the list (up 41% from 34 cities). ShotSpotter coverage per agency ranges from one to 19 square miles. Within the sample, the smallest coverage area was one square mile and the largest coverage area was 13.3 square miles. During 2013, the aggregate area sampled increased by 60 square miles (mi2), from 105 mi2 at the end of Q1 to 165 mi2 at year’s end. This report can be found in its entirety at We encourage the public to comment on this report on Twitter using #GunfireIndex.

About SST, Inc.

SST, Inc. is the global leader in gunfire detection and location technology providing the most trusted, scalable and reliable gunfire alert and analysis solutions available today. SST’s ShotSpotter Flex℠ is the leading gunfire alert and analysis solution for detecting gunshots and providing critical intelligence to give law enforcement agencies the detailed real-time data needed to investigate, analyze and prosecute gun related crimes. The company’s deep domain experience, along with cumulative agency best practice experience, delivers measurable outcomes that contribute to reducing gun violence. SST is a proven solution provider with more than 80 installations across the United States and the world. Privately held, the company possesses multiple patents resulting from nearly two decades of innovation in the area of acoustic gunshot location technology. Information about SST and ShotSpotter can be found at or

Appendix: 2013 National Gunfire Index InfoGraphic

For SST, Inc.
Liz Einbinder, +1 415-577-8255

Source: SST, Inc.