Gun Slayings 25 Times Higher in U.S. Than Other Wealthy Countries

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Firearms line the shelves in the gun library at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Tracing Center. Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS

Whether or not you like guns, the facts don't lie: The United States has a huge problem with gun crime. A study published in The American Journal of Medicine, based on data collected by the World Health Organization in 2010, shows that Americans are 10 times more likely than citizens of any other high-income country to be killed by gunfire, whether murder, accident or suicide.

The study found the United States' gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than the rest of the comparable countries, while the overall homicide rate is seven times higher. And it's much worse for certain groups. For 15- to 24-year-olds, the gun homicide rate is nearly 50 times higher.

More than 90 percent of the women, children and young adults killed by guns in high-income countries were Americans.

While the suicide rate in the U.S. is average, the gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher. In 2012 (the most recent year for which there is solid data), 32,288 people died from gunshot wounds in the United States. According to another study published in 2015 in the Annual Review of Public Health, suicides accounted for 64 percent of those deaths.

David Hemenway, a public health professor at Harvard University and co-author of the American Journal of Medicine study, says owning a gun is a risk factor for suicide. "Differences in overall suicide rates across cities, states, and regions in the United States are best explained not by differences in mental health, suicide ideation, or even suicide attempts, but by availability of firearms," Hemenway said in a statement. "Many suicides are impulsive, and the urge to die fades away. Firearms are a swift and lethal method of suicide."

"The United States has an enormous firearm problem compared with other high-income countries," the authors wrote in the study.