Gun Deaths Global Study Shows US Ranks 2nd Worldwide

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Source: Laura Santhanam, “There’s a New Global Ranking of Gun Deaths. Here’s Where the US Stands,”, Aug. 28, 2018

According to an Aug. 2018 study of 195 nations published in JAMA, “Global Mortality from Firearms, 1990-2016,” the two countries with the highest 2016 firearm mortality rates were Brazil (43,200 deaths) and the United States (37,200 deaths), which together accounted for 32% of all global gun-related deaths that occurred outside of armed conflict. The study offers the first-ever assessment of firearm deaths worldwide, with the primary objective of comparing patterns in gun-related mortality to information about the availability of firearms.

In 2016, an estimated 251,000 people worldwide died from gun-related homicides (64%), suicides (27%), or unintentional injuries (9%). Each year between 1990 and 2016, more firearm deaths occurred outside war zones than in areas of armed conflict, with the exception of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

The six countries with the highest number of firearm fatalities in 2016 (Brazil, United States, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala) accounted for more than half of all global gun deaths, despite holding less than 10% of the world’s population. Worldwide, the annual rate of firearm deaths decreased from 4.2 deaths per 100,000 in 1990 to 3.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. The study’s findings supported the hypothesis that the availability of firearms and the extent of gun control policies at the national level are reflected in differing levels of violence between countries.

The researchers noted that “Although public perception is frequently focused on the use of firearms in homicides, particularly mass shootings, suicides involving firearms greatly outnumber firearm homicides in many countries. Among these countries, the presence of firearms in the home has been directly linked to their greater use as a means of suicide, as well as to increases in unintentional firearm injury deaths.”

In an editorial article about the study published in JAMA, Dr. Frederick P. Rivara of the Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the University of Washington wrote, “For individuals living in the United States, where the national policy debate has focused largely on interpersonal violence, the study provides a reminder of the importance of firearm suicide. In 2016, there were 2 firearm suicides for every firearm homicide.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), firearms rank 12th on the list of the top 20 leading causes of death in the United States; the top three causes are heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

In terms of civilian gun ownership, the United States ranks #1 in the world with 120.5 guns per 100 people, representing 45.88% of the total number of privately owned firearms in the world.


Jen Christensen, “Gun-Related Homicides, Suicides Kill More People Than War, Study Says,”, Aug. 28, 2018

Aimee Cunningham, “The United States and Brazil Top the List of Nations with the Most Gun Deaths,”, Aug. 28, 2018

German Lopez, “America Is One of 6 Countries That Make up More Than Half of Gun Deaths Worldwide,”, Aug. 29, 2018

Mohsen Naghavi, et al., “Global Mortality From Firearms, 1990-2016,” JAMA, Aug. 28, 2018

Frederick P. Rivara, et al., “Firearm-Related Mortality: A Global Health Problem,” JAMA, Aug. 28, 2018

Laura Santhanam, “There’s a New Global Ranking of Gun Deaths. Here’s Where the US Stands,”, Aug. 28, 2018