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Horrific toll in a gun crazy nation

December 14 in Jacksonville, Florida, began with the sound of gunfire off Jammes Road around midnight.

The body of Patrice Sherman (22), who worked manicuring lawns, was found at 7.15am in a ditch.

Sherman may have been the first person killed by gunfire in the US that Friday, hours before the second-deadliest shooting in the nation's history unfolded 1,600 kilometres away in Newtown, Connecticut.

That massacre left 28 dead. By day's end, at least 12 other people were shot dead around the nation -- their deaths little noticed beyond circles of family or friends.

US civilians own 270 million firearms, 89 for every 100 residents, more than any other nation, according to the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

There were an average of 85 gun deaths each day in 2010, including two accidents, 53 suicides and 30 homicides.