A study just out compiling data up to the year 2008 shows that the number of Americans killed by firearms has held stead or gone up slightly in recent years, but the total number shot has increased.
The overall change in numbers is not especially dramatic, but the statistical effect is important. If this trend continues, it could begin to appear that gun violence has dropped off while in fact it increases, depending on what statistic is use; What is dramatic is that it is a large number and little is being done about it. Here’s the data:
Number of people in the US shot, subset killed, by firearms (in thousands).
So there are two trends here: There are more people being shot, and of those, more survive. A pragmatic outcome of this is that gun deaths, as a statistics, may artificially and inaccurately show diminished levels of gun-related violence. The reason for this “survival gap” is not fully studied but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests an explanation. According to the report, there have been significant advances in medical treatment of gunshot victims over the last 25 years, so a higher percentage survive. That’s nice, of course, but since many of these newly-survivable wounds are very serious, surviving victims are often disabled or otherwise chronically damaged.
Source; Violence Policy Center. 1012. More Guns, More Shootings: Better medical care has kept gun deaths constant, but total number of people shot has risen dramatically in the United States.