Mapping global gun violence | The Economist

October 1, 2019

Since 1990 the number
of gun deaths worldwide has reached 6.5 million. Three quarters of gun deaths
occur in just 15 countries. Latin America is home
to some of the world’s most violent countries by murder rate. El Salvador, Venezuela and Guatemala are the top three countries for deaths caused by guns per population. These Latin American countries
are marred by corruption, organized crime and a dysfunctional
criminal justice system that further fuels the problem. The availability of guns
in the United States is another concern for these countries. An estimated 200,000 guns
a year that were first sold in the United States, are smuggled over the southern border
and used in violent crimes in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Unites States, the
constitutional right to bear arms has led to looser regulations
and easier access to firearms. This contributes to the
30,000 men, women and children who are killed with guns each year. Mass shootings attract the headlines, but in fact these make up
only 0.2% of gun deaths. 60% of gun related deaths
are in fact suicide. America’s suicide rate increased by 25% between 1999 and 2015, with nearly 45,000 taking their own lives in 2015 alone. Half of these suicides
were carried out with guns. Though guns aren’t the most
common method of suicide, they are the most lethal. Other wealthy countries have far lower rates of gun violence. In Japan, if you want to
own a gun, you must pass a written exam and a shooting
range test, alongside a series of mental health,
drug and criminal record tests. It has virtually eradicated gun crime. After a mass shooting in
1996, Australia introduced an effective buy back scheme of firearms. In the 20 years following the ban, there was an accelerated
decline in total gun deaths. But in America, the
House of Representatives has not voted on a single
measure to prevent gun violence and in some states, such
as Texas, where students at public colleges can now
carry concealed handguns, the law has actually loosened. Easy access to firearms
will continue to be the main driver of America’s gun deaths.

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