Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Guns do not make a nation safer

Date:
September 18, 2013
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Countries with lower gun ownership are safer than those with higher gun ownership, according to a new report.

A new study reports that countries with lower gun ownership are safer than those with higher gun ownership, debunking the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer. Researchers evaluated the possible associations between gun ownership rates, mental illness, and the risk of firearm-related death by studying the data for 27 developed countries. Their findings are published in the current issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

Related Articles


Gun ownership in the US has been a hotly debated issue for more than 200 years. A popular notion in the US, where there are almost as many guns as people, is that "guns make a nation safer," although there has been little evidence either way. The shootings in Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek, at Virginia Tech, among others in recent years, have demonstrated that there may be a relationship between mental illness and easy access to guns, and that lack of treatment for mental illness may be more of a pressing problem than mere availability of guns.

Ever since the second amendment stating "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" was passed in 1791, there has been a fierce debate over guns in the US. At one end is the argument that gun control laws are an infringement on the right to self-defense and on constitutional rights, and that there is no evidence that banning assault weapons would reduce crime. At the other end is the view that fewer firearms would reduce crime rates and overall lead to greater safety.

Sripal Bangalore, MD, MHA, of NYU Langone Medical Center, and Franz H. Messerli, MD, of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, examined data for 27 developed countries. The gun ownership data were obtained from the Small Arms Survey, and the data for firearm-related deaths were obtained from a European detailed mortality database (World Health Organization), the National Center for Health Statistics, and others. The crime rate was used as an indicator of safety of the nation and was obtained from the United Nations Surveys of Crime Trends.

"The gun ownership rate was a strong and independent predictor of firearm-related death," says Bangalore. "Private gun ownership was highest in the US. Japan, on the other end, had an extremely low gun ownership rate. Similarly, South Africa (9.4 per 100,000) and the US (10.2 per 100,000) had extremely high firearm-related deaths, whereas the United Kingdom (0.25 per 100,000) had an extremely low rate of firearm-related deaths. There was a significant correlation between guns per head per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths with Japan being on one end of the spectrum and the US being on the other. This argues against the notion of more guns translating into less crime. South Africa was the only outlier in that the observed firearms-related death rate was several times higher than expected from gun ownership."

The investigators also evaluated whether mental illness, and not merely the access to guns, is the driving force for criminal activities. They used age-standardized disability-adjusted life-year rates due to major depressive disorder per 100,000 inhabitants with data obtained from the World Health Organization database as a presumed indicator for mental illness burden in each country to assess whether there was a correlation between mental illness burden of a country and the crime rate in a country, but found no significant correlation between mental illness and crime rate.

Says Messerli and Bangalore, "Although correlation is not the same as causation, it seems conceivable that abundant gun availability facilitates firearm-related deaths. Conversely, high crime rates may instigate widespread anxiety and fear, thereby motivating people to arm themselves and give rise to increased gun ownership, which, in turn, increases availability. The resulting vicious cycle could, bit by bit, lead to the polarized status that is now the case with the US." They conclude that, "Regardless of exact cause and effect, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that countries with higher gun ownership are safer than those with low gun ownership."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sripal Bangalore, Franz H. Messerli. Gun Ownership and Firearm-related Deaths. The American Journal of Medicine, 2013; 126 (10): 873 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.04.012

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Guns do not make a nation safer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918101643.htm>.
Elsevier. (2013, September 18). Guns do not make a nation safer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918101643.htm
Elsevier. "Guns do not make a nation safer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918101643.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) It has been a long, busy year for Net Neutrality. The stage is set for an expected landmark FCC decision sometime in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says cyber attacks that ultimately prompted Sony Pictures to scrap the release of a madcap comedy about North Korea are a "serious national security matter." Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins