International context shines a light on numbing U.S. gun violence: Are we OK with this?

International context shines a light on numbing U.S. gun violence: Are we OK with this?

Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. ( Submission Guidelines ) REUTERS/Joshua Lott Reading the news these days brings to mind the saying, “Statistics are human beings with the tears dried off.” Essential as they are to many issues, impersonal data reports can be emotionally and intellectually numbing. This time of year, however, offers an opportunity to add clarifying context to numbing data for one such issue: gun violence. For the past many years, in the first week in February, U.S. year-to-date gun deaths have exceeded comparable countries’ gun deaths — for the entire year. Aggregating World Health Organization data from the 31 populous (greater than 1 million) countries considered “high-income,” the U.S. accounts for a third of the population but 84 percent of all firearm deaths, 92 percent of women killed by guns and 97 percent of children 4 years and under killed by guns. Homicide rates are 7.5 times higher in the U.S. than in the other countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that is 25 times higher, and 49 times higher for 15- to 24-year-olds. (“Violent death rates in the U.S. compared to those of the other high-income countries,” Grinshteyn and Hemenway, University of San Francisco). Numbing, for sure, yet the data screech for attention. They undeniably show that gun violence is integral to America’s brand on the world stage. We are an extreme outlier in the trauma, pain and loss from bullets lodged in human beings. Are we […]

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