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U.S. Leads in Gun Deaths Among Wealthiest Nations

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The United States has by far the highest rate of gun deaths--encompassing murders, suicides and accidents--among the world’s 36 richest nations, the first comprehensive international look at gun-related deaths found.

The U.S. rate for gun deaths in 1994 was 14.24 per 100,000 people. Japan had the lowest rate, at 0.05 per 100,000.

The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was published Thursday in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The CDC would not speculate as to why the death rates varied, but other researchers said easy access to guns and society’s acceptance of violence are part of the problem in the United States.

“If you have a country saturated with guns, available to people when they are intoxicated, angry or depressed, it’s not unusual guns will be used more often,” said Dr. Rebecca Peters, a Johns Hopkins University fellow specializing in gun violence. “This has to be treated as a public health emergency.”

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The National Rifle Assn. called the study shoddy because it failed to examine all causes of violent deaths.

“What this shows is the CDC is after guns. They aren’t concerned with violence. It’s pretending that no homicide exists unless it’s related to guns,” said Dr. Paul Blackman, a research coordinator for the NRA in Fairfax, Va.

The 36 countries chosen were listed as the richest in the World Bank’s 1994 World Development Report.

The study used 1994 statistics supplied by the 36 countries. Of the 88,649 gun deaths reported by all the countries, the United States accounted for 45%, said Dr. Etienne Krug, a CDC researcher and co-author of the article.

“I was surprised by the magnitude of the difference between the U.S. and other countries,” Krug said.

Brazil ranked second with 12.95 deaths per 100,000, followed by Mexico with 12.69, Estonia with 12.26 and Argentina with 8.93.

Japan, where very few people own guns, averages 124 gun-related attacks a year, and less than 1% end in death. Police often raid the homes of those suspected of having weapons.


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