The statistics of who kills and how they do it often get lost in the arguments over gun control. In the U.S., where guns are plentiful, men commit more than 90 percent of killings. Their weapon of choice is overwhelmingly a gun. Men kill significant others, individuals they know and strangers more often with guns than any other weapon (left). Women also more frequently use guns to kill strangers. Perhaps counterintuitively, women are more likely to kill a significant other or family member using a blunt object, knife, poison or other method. (The numbers here, from FBI data on more than 13,000 killing incidents in the U.S. in 2010, include murders, negligent manslaughters and acts of self-defense but not suicides.)
Although we tend to think of murderers as crooks or assassins, they are more likely to be someone familiar (right). Both men and women kill many more significant others, family members, acquaintances and co-workers combined than strangers.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ONLINE
For details on children, teenagers and adults killed by guns, see ScientificAmerican.com/jul2013/graphic-science