FIGURE 5-5 Civilian firearm ownership in 16 peer countries.
NOTES: The data reflect the number of firearms owned per 100 persons. Because many people own multiple firearms, the proportion of people who own firearms is lower.
SOURCE: Data from Small Arms Survey (2007).
Do Injurious Behaviors Explain the U.S. Health Disadvantage?
There are inadequate data to know whether higher death rates from unintentional injuries in the United States are the result of more injurious behaviors or environmental factors. Countries do not collect similar data on behaviors that affect the risk of falls, poisoning, drowning, or other behaviors, making valid international comparisons of these behaviors impossible. It may be the severity, and not the incidence, of injuries that differs in the United States, a factor influenced not only by personal actions—such as the above evidence that Americans may be less apt to use seatbelts or helmets and are more involved in accidents involving alcohol—but also by deficiencies in product and roadway designs (e.g., crash protection) and resources that protect public safety (e.g., law enforcement). However, the prevalence of firearms in the United States looms large as an explanation for higher death rates from violence, suicidal impulses, and accidental shootings.22
22The validity of the correlation between firearm ownership and homicide is strongly debated by opponents of stricter gun control laws in the United States.