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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

Sources of Guns to Dangerous People: What We Learn By Asking Them

April 30, 2015

Gun violence exacts a lethal toll on public health. This paper focuses on reducing access to firearms by dangerous offenders, contributing original empirical data on the gun transactions that arm offenders in Chicago. Conducted in the fall of 2013, analysis of an open-ended survey of 99 inmates of Cook County Jail focuses on a subset of violence-prone individuals with the goal of improving law enforcement actions. Among our principal findings:Our respondents (adult offenders living in Chicago or nearby) obtain most of their guns from their social network of personal connections. Rarely is the proximate source either direct purchase from a gun store, or theft.Only about 60% of guns in the possession of respondents were obtained by purchase or trade. Other common arrangements include sharing guns and holding guns for others.About one in seven respondents report selling guns, but in only a few cases as a regular source of income.Gangs continue to play some role in Chicago in organizing gun buys and in distributing guns to members as needed.The Chicago Police Department has a considerable effect on the workings of the underground gun market through deterrence. Transactions with strangers and less-trusted associates are limited by concerns over arrest risk (if the buyer should happen to be an undercover officer or a snitch), and about being caught with a "dirty" gun (one that has been fired in a crime).

Purchasing Firearms; Statistics & Surveys

Mental Illness and Reduction of Gun Violence and Suicide: Bringing Epidemiological Research to Policy

April 29, 2014

The objective of this study is to describe the epidemiologic evidence concerning risk of gun violence and suicide linked to psychiatric disorders, in contrast to media-fueled public perceptions of the dangerousness of mentally ill individuals, and evaluates effectiveness of policies and laws designed to prevent firearms injury and mortality associated with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders.Research concerning public attitudes toward persons with mental illness is reviewed and juxtaposed with evidence from benchmark epidemiologic and clinical studies of violence and mental illness and of the accuracy of psychiatrists' risk assessments. Selected policies and laws designed to reduce gun violence in relation to mental illness are critically evaluated; evidence-based policy recommendations are presented.Media accounts of mass shootings by disturbed individuals galvanize public attention and reinforce popular belief that mental illness often results in violence. Epidemiologic studies show that the large majority of people with serious mental illnesses are never violent. However, mental illness is strongly associated with increased risk of suicide, which accounts for over half of US firearmserelated fatalities.In conclusion, policymaking at the interface of gun violence prevention and mental illness should be based on epidemiologic data concerning risk to improve the effectiveness, feasibility, and fairness of policy initiatives.

Statistics & Surveys