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Guns & Public Health
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Guns And Public Health

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Guns & Public Health

With gun violence leading to the deaths of thousands of people every year in the U.S., more and more people have suggested a public health approach to the issue of gun violence. Let’s explore the American relationship with guns and gun violence and how it relates to public health.

Guns and America

Firearm possession

310 million

Estimated total number of guns (legal and illegal) held by civilians in the U.S. (1)

Households with firearms, by year (1)

1973: 49.1%

1974: 47.9%

1976: 49.7%

1977: 54%

1980: 50.8%

1982: 48.9%

1984: 48.5%

1985: 48%

1987: 48.6%

1988: 43.4%

1989: 48.9%

1990: 45.8%

1991: 43.7%

1993: 45.5%

1994: 44%

1996: 43.4%

1998: 36.7%

2000: 34.3%

2002: 36.4%

2004: 37.3%

2006: 34.5%

2008: 36%

2010: 32.3%

2012: 34.4%

Firearm deaths

33,636

U.S. firearm deaths, 2013 (1)

Gun deaths per 100,000 people, by year (1)

2011: 10.30

2010: 10.26

2009: 10.22

2008: 10.39

2007: 10.37

2006: 10.35

2005: 10.39

2004: 10.10

2003: 10.39

2002: 10.51

2001: 10.38

2000: 10.19

1999: 10.35

Gun death rates (deaths per 100,000 people), by state (2)

Louisiana: 18.91

Mississippi: 17.80

Alaska: 17.41

Wyoming: 16.92

Montana: 16.74

Oklahoma: 16.60

Alabama: 16.34

Arkansas: 15.72

South Carolina: 15.09

West Virginia: 14.99

Arizona: 14.91

Tennessee: 14.81

New Mexico: 14.72

Missouri: 14.21

Kentucky: 14.13

Nevada: 13.82

Georgia: 12.56

Florida: 12.46

Vermont: 12.45

Idaho: 12.12

North Carolina: 11.96

Michigan: 11.70

Kansas: 11.46

Pennsylvania: 11.28

Colorado: 11.20

Utah: 10.94

Oregon: 10.86

Virginia: 10.71

Ohio: 10.63

Maine: 10.24

Texas: 10.14

Indiana: 9.79

Maryland: 9.28

Washington: 9.15

North Dakota: 8.91

Nebraska: 8.74

Illinois: 8.66

South Dakota: 8.62

Delaware: 8.48

California: 7.97

Wisconsin: 7.79

Minnesota: 7.41

Iowa: 7.18

New Hampshire: 6.98

Connecticut: 5.85

New Jersey: 5.46

New York: 5.11

Massachusetts: 3.84

Hawaii: 3.56

Rhode Island: 3.14

The Public Health Approach

While conditions like heart disease and cancer kill more Americans every year than gun-related violence, firearms rival poisonings and car accidents.

Deaths by type (3)

Poisoning: 48,545

Motor vehicle: 33,804

Firearm: 33,636

A comprehensive public health-focused approach to other issues has helped reduce related injuries and deaths.

Infectious disease

Tuberculosis cases per 100,000 people, by year (3)

1953: 52.6

1958: 36.3

1963: 28.6

1968: 21.2

1973: 14.6

1978: 12.8

1983: 10.2

1988: 9.2

1993: 9.7

1998: 6.6

2003: 5.1

2008: 4.2

2013: 3.0

Car accidents

Traffic fatalities per 100,000 people, by year (4)

1975: 20.62

1976: 20.88

1977: 21.74

1978: 22.61

1979: 22.70

1980: 22.49

1981: 21.49

1982: 18.97

1983: 18.22

1984: 18.77

1985: 18.42

1986: 19.19

1987: 19.15

1988: 19.26

1989: 18.47

1990: 17.88

1991: 16.46

1992: 15.39

1993: 15.58

1994: 15.64

1995: 15.91

1996: 15.86

1997: 15.69

1998: 15.36

1999: 15.30

2000: 14.86

2001: 14.81

2002: 14.95

2003: 14.78

2004: 14.63

2005: 14.72

2006: 14.31

2007: 13.70

2008: 12.31

2009: 11.05

2010: 10.67

2011: 10.42

2012: 10.69

Tobacco consumption

Adult tobacco consumption per capita, by year (3)

2000: 2,148

2001: 2,075

2002: 2,006

2003: 1,916

2004: 1,888

2005: 1,807

2006: 1,787

2007: 1,690

2008: 1,615

2009: 1,472

2010: 1,400

2011: 1,374

The Public Health Solution

Whether gun violence should be approached like other public health issues is a contentious notion, but several possible initiatives have been proposed that would attack gun violence from a public-health perspective. (5)

“Smart guns” which could only be fired by the owners

Mandated child safety locks

PR campaigns encouraging safe gun practices

Guns And Public Health

Sources:

1. http://www.gunpolicy.org
2. http://www.vpc.org
3. http://www.cdc.gov
4. http://en.wikipedia.org
5. http://www.newrepublic.com