Gun-related deaths are not uncommon. In 2016 alone, more than 250,000 people died as a result of firearms worldwide. About 64% of gun deaths were the results of homicide, about 27% of suicide, and 9% for accidental injuries caused by firearms.
Nearly nine out of 10 people killed by gun violence were men, and the highest number of deaths were people between 20 and 24 years old.
Gun violence in Latin America is exceptionally high. The Inter-American Development Bank released a report highlighting four critical factors in Latin American cities that contribute to increased gun violence: economic deprivation, residential instability, family disruption, absence from school, the population’s age structure, and alcohol consumption. These factors can be applied to other regions around the world that experience significant gun violence.
Brazil has the highest number of gun deaths in the world, with a total of 43,200 out of the 250,000 worldwide – a gun death rate of 21.9 per 100,000 Brazilian citizens. The United States has the second-highest number of gun deaths with 37,200.
In the United States, mass shootings receive the most attention by the media and therefore, many attribute the high gun deaths to mass shootings. However, mass shootings are only responsible for a small number of overall gun violence deaths in the United States. More than two-thirds of gun deaths in the US are suicides.
Gun violence is not as large of an issue in every country around the world. Gun deaths are extremely low in countries like Japan, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Australia. These countries have implemented incentives or passed legislation to decrease the number of firearms in citizens’ possessions. For example, Australia implemented a buy-back program for firearms, allowing the government to buy and destroy over 600,000 guns.
Japan has the fewest gun deaths per year in the world. Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in the world and experiences 100 or fewer gun deaths per year in a population of over 127 million and a gun death rate of .06 deaths per 100,000 people. For Japanese citizens to purchase a gun, they must attend an all-day class, pass a written exam, and complete a shooting range test, scoring at least 95% accuracy. Candidates will also receive a mental health evaluation, performed at a hospital, and will have a comprehensive background check done by the government. Only shotguns and rifles can be purchased. The class and exam must be retaken every three years.