Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other developed countries, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Nevada-Reno and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to include David Hemenway, looked at 2010 data from the World Health Organization and found that when compared to 22 other high-income nations, U.S. gun homicide rates are 25 times higher and the gun suicide rate is eight times higher.
Hemenway is loathed by the gun rights community for his research, which is viewed by some as a political tool often used by gun control advocates.
His October study on violent death rates also found that Americans are seven times more likely to be violently killed, six times more likely to be accidentally killed with a firearm and 10 times more likely to die from a gun overall, Science Daily reported.
“More than two-thirds of the homicides in the U.S. are firearm homicides and studies have suggested that the nongun homicide rate in the U.S. may be high because the gun homicide rate is high,” said Erin Grinshteyn, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Nevada-Reno School of Community Health Science and the study’s co-author. “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.”
The study also found the overall suicide rate in the U.S. to be on par with the rest of the developed world, but suicide by firearm was eight times more likely.
“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, PhD, Harvard professor and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center. “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.”
Suicide was the leading cause of death for all ages in 2013 and accounted for 41,149 deaths in the U.S. that year, according to CDC data. Suicide is the leading cause of death by firearm and accounts for two-thirds of all gun deaths.
Recognizing that correlation does not imply causation, gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety attributes the high suicide rates to lax background check laws on the state level. The group analyzed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data and found that between 2008 and 2012, suicide rates were lower in those states with background checks in place.
“People with severe mental illness are at a substantially increased risk of suicide, and partially as a result, they are federally prohibited from buying guns,” said a January report put out by Everytown. “The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has proven effective at stopping such gun sales.”
Mental health is something the firearms industry says it’s also interested in. The National Shooting Sports Foundation launched its FixNICS campaign to help prevent those prohibited individuals from obtaining firearms.
That is done by encouraging states to submit their records on individuals prohibited from possessing guns because of mental health issues to the federal background check system.
The NSSF did not respond to a comment request by article publication.
“I know the NSSF has contributed to many states,” Ted Alcorn, Everytown research director, told Guns.com Wednesday. “I think everyone has agreed that states should submit their records.”
Alcorn also recognized both sides support the restoration of a prohibited individual’s gun rights through proper court processes once that person is no longer deemed a risk to the public.
The firearms industry may be in agreement on fixing the federal background check system, but it doesn’t believe in pushing universal background checks on states, which the NSSF has accused Everytown of doing.
“The background check system reflects a reality that it takes two things to cause a act of violence, someone who poses a risk and a firearm,” Alcorn said.“We want to preserve the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, but want to block those prohibited individuals from getting guns at the point of sale.