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This special collection brings together evidence and insights from nonprofits, foundations, and research organizations working to understand the full impact of firearm use and gun violence in the US. By providing us with analyses of current state and federal laws as well as valuable data on suicides, homicides, accidents, and mass shootings, these organizations seek to inform sound public policy and to curb this ongoing public health epidemic.

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"Gun Violence" by M+R Glasgow licensed under CC 2.0

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Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-income OECD Countries, 2010

November 6, 2015

BackgroundViolent death is a serious problem in the United States. Previous research showing US rates of violent death compared with other high-income countries used data that are more than a decade old.MethodsWe examined 2010 mortality data obtained from the World Health Organization for populous, high-income countries (n = 23). Death rates per 100,000 population were calculated for each country and for the aggregation of all non-US countries overall and by age and sex. Tests of significance were performed using Poisson and negative binomial regressions.ResultsUS homicide rates were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher. For 15- to 24-year-olds, the gun homicide rate in the United States was 49.0 times higher. Firearm-related suicide rates were 8.0 times higher in the United States, but the overall suicide rates were average. Unintentional firearm deaths were 6.2 times higher in the United States. The overall firearm death rate in the United States from all causes was 10.0 times higher. Ninety percent of women, 91% of children aged to 14 years, 92% of youth aged 15 to 24 years, and 82% of all people killed by firearms were from the United States.ConclusionsThe United States has an enormous firearm problem compared with other high-income countries, with higher rates of homicide and firearm-related suicide. Compared with 2003 estimates, the US firearm death rate remains unchanged while firearm death rates in other countries decreased. Thus, the already high relative rates of firearm homicide, firearm suicide, and unintentional firearm death in the United States compared with other high-income countries increased between 2003 and 2010.

Statistics & Surveys

Gun Ownership and Firearm-related Deaths

January 1, 2013

BACKGROUND: A variety of claims about possible associations between gun ownership rates, mental illness burden, and the risk of fi rearm-related deaths have been put forward. However, systematic data on this issue among various countries remain scant. Our objective was to assess whether the popular notion "guns make a nation safer" has any merits.METHODS: Data on gun ownership were obtained from the Small Arms Survey, and for fi rearm-related deaths from a European detailed mortality database (World Health Organization), the National Center for Health Statistics, and others. Crime rate was used as an indicator of safety of the nation and was obtained from the United Nations Surveys of Crime Trends. Age-standardized disability-adjusted life- year rates due to major depressive disorder per 100,000 inhabitants with data obtained from the World Health Organization database were used as a putative indicator for mental illness burden in a given country.RESULTS: Among the 27 developed countries, there was a significant positive correlation between guns per capita per country and the rate of fi rearm-related deaths ( r ¼ 0.80; P < .0001). In addition, there was a positive correlation (r ¼ 0.52; P ¼ .005) between mental illness burden in a country and fi rearm-related deaths. However, there was no significant correlation (P ¼ .10) between guns per capita per country and crime rate ( r ¼ .33), or between mental illness and crime rate ( r ¼ 0.32; P ¼ .11). In a linear regression model with fi rearm-related deaths as the dependent variable with gun ownership and mental illness as independent covariates, gun ownership was a significant predictor ( P < .0001) of fi rearm-related deaths, whereas mental illness was of borderline significance ( P ¼ .05) only.CONCLUSION: The number of guns per capita per country was a strong and independent predictor of fi rearm-related death in a given country, whereas the predictive power of the mental illness burden was of borderline significance in a multivariable model. Regardless of exact cause and effect, however, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer.