80% of firearms deaths in developed world happen in US – study

© Jonathan Ernst
Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun compared to people living in other developed nations around the world. This is according to a new study highlighting the “US has an enormous firearm problem.”

The alarming statistics were published in The American Journal of Medicine, as part of a study carried out by researchers from the University of Nevada-Reno and the Harvard School of Public Health. The report was aiming to put America’s relationship with firearms into perspective.

However, one thing was immediately clear: “The United States has an enormous firearm problem compared with other high-income countries. Americans are 10 times more likely to die as a result of a firearm compared with residents of these other high-income countries,” the study, under taken by Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, stated.

The researchers took data, collected by the World Health Organization in 2010, to compare the US to equally developed countries around the world, such as the UK, Japan and France. The findings proved to be an eye-opener and showed that the US suffers much higher rates of deadly violence, attributable to the considerably higher rate of gun-related murders.

“Overall, our results show that the United States, which has the most firearms per capita in the world, suffers disproportionately from firearms compared with other high-income countries. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us,” said Grinshteyn, an assistant professor from the University of Nevada-Reno.

Taking into account all deaths caused by firearms in developed countries, the researchers were able to determine that more than 80 percent took place in the US, despite the country having only half the population of the other 22 highly developed nations in the study.

The paper also believes US gun culture isn’t helping matters, with citizens more inclined to resolve a problem or a threat through the use of firearms, rather than alternative options such as calling the police.

“Studies have suggested that the non-gun homicide rate in the United States may be high because the gun homicide rate is high. For example, offenders take into account the threat posed by their adversaries. Individuals are more likely to have lethal intent if they anticipate that their adversaries will be armed,” Grinshteyn added.

The study found an alarming development in cause of death among Americans aged between 15 and 34. Investigators determined that homicide was the second leading cause of death amongst Americans aged from 15 to 24, and the third in the 25 to 34 age range.

When compared to the rest of the developed nations in the study, the researchers found Americans aged 15-24 were an astounding 49 times more likely to die as the result of a firearms homicide, while for those aged between 25 to 34 the figure is 32 times higher.

The prevalence of guns in the US also has a knock-on effect on how people in the US commit suicide. Despite having similar suicide rates to the rest of the developed world, American’s are eight times more likely to end their lives with a gun.

"Differences in overall suicide rates across cities, states, and regions in the United States are best explained not by differences in mental health, suicide ideation, or even suicide attempts, but by availability of firearms," said Hemenway, a professor at Harvard School of Public Health, as cited by Science Daily.

"Many suicides are impulsive, and the urge to die fades away. Firearms are a swift and lethal method of suicide with a high case fatality rate."