Today marks the two-month anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a 20-year-old shooter named Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults before taking his own life. As one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history, the murders spurred array of responses — some silly, some serious, some absurd — and focused attention on a single number: how many people actually die by gunfire? According to criminal reports collected by Slate and the Twitter account @GunDeaths, at least 1,793 people in the United States have died in gun-related deaths in the two months since the shooting at Sandy Hook. (That's an average of 28 deaths per day.) And that number is almost certainly less than the true tally, which according to Slate "is surprisingly hard to come by." (Slate's effort is crowd-sourced but requires proof — e.g., news reports — that a person died due to gun violence.)
The morbid count surfaces two days after President Obama, during his State of the Union address, used the two-month anniversary of the Newtown shooting to drive home his party's wish for stricter gun policy — "It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different." — and less than twenty-four hours after N.R.A. Vice President predicted apocalyptic doom if the government makes it in any way more difficult to purchase or sell a firearm: "Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival."