Gun related violence is violence committed with the use of a gun (firearm or small arm). Gun related violence may or may not be considered criminal. Criminal, includes homicide (except when and where ruled justifiable), assault with a deadly weapon, and suicide, or attempted suicide, depending on jurisdiction. Non-criminal violence may include accidental or unintentional injury and death. Included in this subject are statistics regarding military or para-military activities, as well as the actions of civilians.
According to GunPolicy.org, 75 percent of the world's 875 million guns are civilian controlled. Globally, millions are wounded through the use of guns. Assault by firearm resulted in 180,000 deaths in 2013 up from 128,000 deaths in 1990. There were additionally 47,000 unintentional firearm related deaths in 2013.
Levels of gun related violence vary greatly among geographical regions, countries, and even subnationally. The United States has the highest rate of gun related deaths per capita among developed countries,:29 though it also has the highest rate of gun ownership and the highest rate of officers. Mother Jones has found that, in the United States, "gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership." It has also found that "[g]un death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as assault-weapons bans or safe-storage requirements."
Gun control is a very controversial topic in the United States of America today. Gun control is defined as “Laws or policies that regulate within a jurisdiction the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians”. (The Simple Truth About Gun Control). Often, the Second Amendment is referenced by those both in favor and against gun control because while guns have played an integral role in America's history, they have also caused much destruction. Due to recent mass shootings in the United States in schools, movie theaters, night clubs, etc. this issue has come to the forefront of many political and everyday debates.
According to the United Nations, Deaths from small firearms exceed that of all other weapons combined, and more die each year from gun related violence than did in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The global death toll from use of guns may number as high as 1,000 dead each day.
A number of ideas have been proposed on how to lessen the incidence of gun related violence.
Some propose keeping a gun at home to keep one safer. Mother Jones has reported that "[o]wning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide, and accidental death by gun." According to the FBI, gun related violence is linked to gun ownership and is not a function or byproduct of crime. Their study indicates that more than 90% of gun related deaths were not part of a commission of a crime, rather they were directly related to gun ownership. Some propose keeping a gun for self-defense, however Mother Jones reports that [a] Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun" and that "[h]is odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater" when armed. Other studies have concluded that firearm possession provides a deterrent benefit. "Research conducted by Professors James Wright and Peter Rossi, for a landmark study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, points to the armed citizen as possibly the most effective deterrent to crime in the nation. Wright and Rossi questioned over 1,800 felons serving time in prisons across the nation" Others propose arming civilians to counter mass shootings. FBI research shows that between 2000 and 2013 "In 5 incidents (3.1%), the shooting ended after armed individuals who were not law enforcement personnel exchanged gunfire with the shooters." Another proposal is to expand self defense laws for cases where a person is being aggressed upon, although "those policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides" (that is, shootings where self-defense cannot be claimed).
There is a strong relationship between guns in the home, as well as access to guns more generally, and suicide risk, the evidence for which is strongest in the United States. A 1992 U.S. medical journal report shows an association between household firearm ownership and gun suicide rates, finding that individuals in a firearm owning home are close to five times more likely to commit suicide than those individuals who do not own firearms. A 2002 study found that access to guns in the home was associated with an increased risk of suicide among middle-aged and older adults, even after controlling for psychiatric illness. As of 2008, there were 12 case-control studies that had been conducted in the U.S., all of which had found that guns in the home were associated with an increased risk of suicide. However, a 1996 New Zealand study found no significant relationship between household guns and suicide. Assessing data from 14 developed countries where gun ownership levels were known, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found statistically significant correlations between those levels and suicide rates. However, the parallels were lost when data from additional nations was included.:30 A 2006 study found a significant effect of changes in gun ownership rates on gun suicide rates in multiple Western countries. During the 1980s and 1990s, the rate of adolescent suicides with guns caught up with adult rates, and the 75-and-older rate rose above all others.:20–21 The use of firearms in suicides ranges from less than 10 percent in Australia to 50 percent in the United States, where it is the most common method and where suicides outnumber homicides 2-to-1.
According to U.S. criminologist Gary Kleck, studies that try to link gun ownership to victimology often fail to account for the presence of guns owned by other people. Research by economists John Lott of the U.S. and John Whitley of Australia indicates that safe-storage laws do not appear to affect juvenile accidental gun-related deaths or suicides. In contrast, a 2004 study led by Daniel Webster found that such laws were associated with slight reductions in suicide rates among children. The same study criticized Lott and Whitley's study on the subject for inappropriately using a Tobit model. A committee of the U.S. National Research Council said ecological studies on violence and firearms ownership provide contradictory evidence. The committee wrote: "[Existing] research studies and data include a wealth of descriptive information on homicide, suicide, and firearms, but, because of the limitations of existing data and methods, do not credibly demonstrate a causal relationship between the ownership of firearms and the causes or prevention of criminal violence or suicide."
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines intentional homicide as "acts in which the perpetrator intended to cause death or serious injury by his or her actions." This excludes deaths: related to conflicts (war); caused by recklessness or negligence; or justifiable, such as in self-defense or by law enforcement in the line of duty. A 2009 report by the Geneva Declaration using UNODC data showed that worldwide firearms were used in an average of 60 percent of all homicides.:67 In the U.S. in 2011, 67 percent of homicide victims were killed by a firearm: 66 percent of single-victim homicides and 79 percent of multiple-victim homicides. In 2009, the United States' homicide rate was reported to be 5.0 per 100,000. A 2016 Harvard study claims that in 2010 the homicide rate was about 7 times higher than that of other high-income countries, and that the US gun homicide rate was 25.2 times higher. Another Harvard study found that higher gun availability was strongly correlated with higher homicide rates across 26 high-income countries. Access to guns is associated with an increased risk of being the victim of homicide.
Some gun control advocates say that the strongest evidence linking availability of guns to death and injury is found in domestic violence studies, often referring to those by public health policy analyst Arthur Kellermann. In response to suggestions by some that homeowners would be wise to acquire firearms for protection from home invasions, Kellermann investigated in-home homicides in three cities over five years. He found that the risk of a homicide was in fact slightly higher in homes where a handgun was present. The data showed that the risk of a crime of passion or other domestic dispute ending in a fatal injury was higher when a gun was readily available (essentially loaded and unlocked) compared to when no gun was readily available. Kellerman said this increase in mortality overshadowed any protection a gun might have deterring or defending against burglaries or invasions. He also concluded that further research of domestic violence causes and prevention are needed.
Critics of Kellermann's study say that it is more directly a study of domestic violence than of gun ownership. Gary Kleck and others dispute the work. Kleck says that few of the homicides that Kellermann studied were committed with guns belonging to the victim or members of his or her household, and that it was implausible that victim household gun ownership contributed to their homicide. Instead, according to Kleck, the association that Kellermann found between gun ownership and victimization reflected that people who live in more dangerous circumstances are more likely to be murdered, but also were more likely to have acquired guns for self-protection.
Robbery and assault
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines robbery as the theft of property by force or threat of force. Assault is defined as a physical attack against the body of another person resulting in serious bodily injury. In the case of gun related violence, the definitions become more specific and include only robbery and assault committed with the use of a firearm. Firearms are used in this threatening capacity four to six times more than firearms used as a means of protection in fighting crime. Hemenway's figures are disputed by other academics, who assert there are many more defensive uses of firearms than criminal uses. See John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime".
Costs of gun related violence
Aside from the human costs like the emotional toll of losing a loved one, the purely economic cost of gun related violence in the United States is $229 billion a year, meaning a single murder has average direct costs of almost $450,000, from the police and ambulance at the scene, to the hospital, courts, and prison for the murderer. A 2014 study found that from 2006 to 2010, gun-related injuries in the United States cost $88 billion.
Assault by firearm resulted in 180,000 deaths worldwide in 2013, up from 128,000 deaths worldwide in 1990. There were 47,000 unintentional firearm deaths worldwide in 2013.
Emergency medical care is a major contributor to the monetary costs of such violence. It was determined in a study that for every firearm death in the United States for the year beginning 1 June 1992, an average of three firearm-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments.
Children exposed to gun related violence, whether they are victims, perpetrators, or witnesses, can experience negative psychological effects over the short and long terms. Psychological trauma also is common among children who are exposed to high levels of violence in their communities or through the media. Psychologist James Garbarino, who studies children in the U.S. and internationally, found that individuals who experience violence are prone to mental and other health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep deprivation. These problems increase for those who experience violence as children.
Gun Related Violence in Australia
The Port Arthur massacre in 1996 Australia, horrified the Australian public. The gunman opened fire on shop owners and tourists killing 35 people, and wounding 23. This massacre, although horrible and disgusting, kick started Australia’s laws against guns. The Prime Minister at that time, John Howard, proposed a gun law that prevented the public from having all semi-automatic rifles, all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, in addition to a tightly restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls. Of course it was no surprise that gun enthusiasts were outraged, which worried John Howard. So during the time he held public meetings, he had a bullet proof vest on the whole time, which was indeed visible.
The government also bought back guns from people. In 1996-2003 it was estimated they bought back and destroyed nearly 1 million firearms. By the end of 1996, whilst Australia was still reeling from the Port Arthur massacre, the gun law was fully in place. Since then, the number of deaths related to gun related violence dwindled almost every year. In 1979 six hundred and eighty-five people died due to gun violence, and in 1996 it was five hundred and sixteen. Since then, the numbers just continue to drop. In 2011 just one hundred and eighty-eight deaths, and more recently in 2014, two hundred and thirty deaths.
On the Australia's most mediated gun violence related incident since Port Arthur, was the 2014 Sydney Hostage Crisis. On 15–16 December 2014, a lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, held hostage 17 customers and employees of a Lindt chocolate café. The perpetrator was on bail at the time, and had previously been convicted of a range of offences.
The following year in August, the New South Wales Government tightened the laws of bail and illegal firearms, creating a new offence for the possession of a stolen firearm, with a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
- Armed violence reduction
- List of countries by firearm-related death rate
- Global gun cultures
- Gunfire locator
- Gun violence in the United States
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Studies that attempt to link the gun ownership of individuals to their experiences as victims (e.g., Kellermann, et al. 1993) do not effectively determine how an individual's risk of victimization is affected by gun ownership by other people, especially those not living in the gun owner's own household.
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It is frequently assumed that safe-storage laws reduce accidental gun deaths and total suicides. We find no support that safe-storage laws reduce either juvenile accidental gun deaths or suicides.
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Library resources in your library about gun violence
- Firearm-related deaths in the United States and 35 other high- and upper-middle-income countries Krug, Powell, and Dahlberg (1998)
- Gun ownership, suicide and homicide: An international perspective Killias (1992)
- GunPolicy.org Armed violence and gun laws, country by country
- Guns and suicide: Possible effects of some specific legislation Rich, Young, Fowler et al. (1990)
- Guns, Violent Crime, and Suicide in 21 Countries Killias, van Kesteren, Rindlisbacher (2001)
- State of crime and criminal justice worldwide United Nations (2010)
- World crime trends and emerging issues and responses in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice United Nations (2013)
- Gun Violence Archive (GVA) Data on each verified gun related incident, with annual statistics
- Report US Anti-gun violence activist art project, Eileen Boxer (2016)