19 December 2012

Research on Firearm death in the United States

In the wake of the very emotional tragedy last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, I wanted to learn something about research on firearm death in the United States. Erin Richardson, who received her Ph.D. in public health from UCLA, had an article last year on this topic. Additionally, her co-author wrote a book 6 years ago about firearm regulation in the United States and its role in public health. I found them both very informative, so I thought I'd share the citations:

Richardson, Erin G.; Hemenway, David. "Homicide, Suicide, and Unintentional Firearm Fatality: Comparing the United States With Other High-Income Countries, 2003." Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care. 70(1):238-243, January 2011.

Hemenway, David. Private guns, public health. University of Michigan Press, 2006.

A few quotes:

From the Journal of Trauma:

"A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database analyzes homicides and suicides (both disaggregated as firearm related and non-firearm related) and unintentional and undetermined firearm deaths from 23 populous high-income Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries that provided data to the World Health Organization for 2003. ... The US homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher. For 15-year olds to 24-year olds, firearm homicide rates in the United States were 42.7 times higher than in the other countries. For US males, firearm homicide rates were 22.0 times higher, and for US females, firearm homicide rates were 11.4 times higher. The US unintentional firearm deaths were 5.2 times higher than in the other countries. Among these 23 countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86% of women killed by firearms were US women, and 87% of all children aged 0 to 14 killed by firearms were US children. ... The overall non-firearm homicide rate was 2.9 times higher in the United States."

From Private guns, public health:

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have many guns, though not nearly as many handguns as the United States. The key difference is that these other countries do a much better ob of regulating their guns. Their experience and that of all high-income nations shows that when there are reasonable restrictiosn on guns, gun injuries need not be such a large public health problem. Their experience also shows that it is possible to live in a society with many guns yet one in which relatively few crimes are committed with guns."

"Households with guns, 1999-2000 (Table 1.2). United States: 41%. Canada: 26%. Australia: 16%. New Zealand (1997-98): 20%."

"A nation may be judged by how well it protects its children. In terms of lethal violence, the United States does very badly. For example, a comparison of violent deaths of five- to fourteen-year-olds in the United States and in the other twenty-five high-income countries during the 1990s shows that the United States has much higher suicide and homicide rates, almost entirely because of the higher gun death rates. The United States has ten times the firearm suicide rate and the same nonfirearm suicide rate as these other countries, and the United States has seventeen times the firearm homicide rate and only a somewhat higher nonfirearm homicide rate. Our unintentional firearm death rate is nine times higher."