This page is part of a larger discussion of international violent death rates.

Friday, April 17, 1998

U.S. Leads Richest Nations In Gun Deaths


    ATLANTA -- The United States has by far the highest rate of gun deaths -- murders, suicides and accidents -- among the world's 36 richest nations, a government study found.
    The U.S. rate for gun deaths in 1994 was 14.24 per 100,000 people. Japan had the lowest rate, at .05 per 100,000.
    The study, done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first comprehensive international look at gun-related deaths. It was published Thursday in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
    The CDC would not speculate why the death rates varied, but other researchers said easy access to guns and society's acceptance of violence are part of the problem in the United States.
    ``If you have a country saturated with guns -- available to people when they are intoxicated, angry or depressed -- it's not unusual guns will be used more often,'' said Rebecca Peters, a Johns Hopkins University fellow specializing in gun violence. ``This has to be treated as a public health emergency.''
    The National Rifle Association called the study shoddy because it failed to examine all causes of violent deaths.
    ``What this shows is the CDC is after guns. They aren't concerned with violence. It's pretending that no homicide exists unless it's related to guns,'' said Paul Blackman, a research coordinator for the NRA in Fairfax, Va.
    The 36 countries chosen were listed as the richest in the World Bank's 1994 World Development Report, with the highest GNP per capita income.
    The study used 1994 statistics supplied by the 36 countries. Of the 88,649 gun deaths reported by all the countries, the United States accounted for 45 percent, said Etienne Krug, a CDC researcher and co-author of the article.
    Japan, where very few people own guns, averages 124 gun-related attacks a year, and less than 1 percent end in death. Police often raid the homes of those suspected of having weapons.
    The study found that gun-related deaths were five to six times higher in the Americas than in Europe or Australia and New Zealand and 95 times higher than in Asia.
    Here are gun-related deaths per 100,000 people in the world's 36 richest countries in 1994: United States 14.24; Brazil 12.95; Mexico 12.69; Estonia 12.26; Argentina 8.93; Northern Ireland 6.63; Finland 6.46; Switzerland 5.31; France 5.15; Canada 4.31; Norway 3.82; Austria 3.70; Portugal 3.20; Israel 2.91; Belgium 2.90; Australia 2.65; Slovenia 2.60; Italy 2.44; New Zealand 2.38; Denmark 2.09; Sweden 1.92; Kuwait 1.84; Greece 1.29; Germany 1.24; Hungary 1.11; Republic of Ireland 0.97; Spain 0.78; Netherlands 0.70; Scotland 0.54; England and Wales 0.41; Taiwan 0.37; Singapore 0.21; Mauritius 0.19; Hong Kong 0.14; South Korea 0.12; Japan 0.05.

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