In 1994, the United States was home to about 200 million privately owned guns. Today, that number has ballooned to between 270 million and 300 million. That's almost half of all privately owned guns worldwide, according to a new essay from the Brookings Institution.

The essay, titled The Promise by Matt Bennett, looks back at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and the way ahead for gun control. The piece breaks down some other big numbers surrounding the battle for more gun regulation: More than 10 firearm deaths per 100,000 Americans every year; 600 annual accidental shootings; 11,400 murders; about 31,000 total gun deaths. The most common age of people who commit gun crimes is 19, then 20, then 18. That's despite regulations that bar licensed dealers from selling handguns to anyone under the age of 21. Almost 100 million adults live in a home with a gun.

Bennett ties these numbers back to last year's tragedy in Newtown, Conn.:

Still in the arena as well are the families of Sandy Hook. Despite the glare of a spotlight that has forced them to repeatedly relive their darkest hour and subjected them to a stunning level of personal vitriol, they continue to come to Washington, meet with senators and talk to the press. They accepted early on that this was a long road—that a 20-year gridlock on gun policy was not likely to change in an instant.

 

The motto of Sandy Hook Promise is: "Our hearts are broken; Our spirit is not." And the extraordinary generosity of spirit that these brave people bring to this nasty, brutish political debate could, in the end, make all the difference.

You can read the full piece here.