Among developed countries, rates of violence are roughly similar. But in the United States, the chance of dying from a violent act exceeds that of other countries by a wide margin.

It’s because of guns, says David Hemenway. The U.S. suffers higher rates of gun-related homicides, gun-related suicides, and unintentional gun deaths simply because so many more people here own and use firearms and because of permissive gun laws.

“When there are more guns there are more deaths,” said Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and professor of health policy at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). “We have by far the weakest gun laws in the developed world. We’re just such an outlier.”

In the first of HSPH’s summer “Hot Topics” lecture series, Hemenway outlined a wealth of facts and statistics linking the availability of guns in the U.S. with the nation’s relatively high rates of gun-related deaths.

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