U.S. gun deaths disproportionately high

The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 25 times higher than in other high-income countries, and the firearm suicide rate is eight times higher, according to a new study.

David Hemenway, professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and Erin Grinshteyn of the University of Nevada-Reno used 2010 data from the World Health Organization to compare U.S. firearm mortality to 22 other populous high-income countries including Australia, France, Korea, and the United Kingdom. Comparing their results to a similar study they conducted in 2003, the researchers found that firearm death rates remained unchanged in the U.S. but decreased overall in the other countries.

The study was published February 28, 2019 in the American Journal of Medicine.

Among the study’s other key findings:

  • The U.S. population is less than half that of the total population in the countries studied, yet accounted for 82% of all firearm deaths in the countries during the study period.
  • Out of all 23 countries studied, 90% of women, 91% of children under 14, and 92% of youth ages 15-24 who were killed by firearms lived in the U.S.

“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,” the authors wrote. “These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us.”

Learn more

High rates of gun ownership linked with more youth suicides (Harvard Chan School news)

Uncommon Ground (Harvard Public Health)