December 3, 2015 – Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News
You’re more likely to be shot to death in the United States than you are to die in a car accident in Canada.
Fourteen people were shot to death near a centre for people with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino, California on Wednesday. Another 17 people were injured.
That mass shooting put 2015 on track to be America’s deadliest for gun violence since 2012 — the year 20 children were shot to death in their elementary school and many people were convinced that was the turning point for American gun control.
It wasn’t: Even the most modest attempts at making it tougher to buy a gun have failed. U.S. President Barack Obama’s public statements in the wake of gun violence have become increasingly embittered.
“We have a pattern, now, of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” he said Wednesday.
The United States has the world’s highest rate of civilian gun ownership, by a significant margin, according to the Small Arms Survey:
And those high ownership rates translate into one of the highest rates of firearm homicides in the world. America is behind Brazil, El Salvador Colombia and Iraq but ahead of Somalia, Costa Rica, Argentina and India, among other countries, according to the Global Health Data Exchange’s 2013 statistics.
Much of the America’s pro-gun push is centered around protection and personal freedom. Gun sales tend to rise in the wake of shootings both because people want to keep themselves and their families safe, and because they fear a governmental crackdown on gun ownership. According to the FBI, gun sales skyrocketed on Black Friday, even as police engaged in an hours-long standoff with a shooter who killed at least three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.
But there’s little evidence to suggest guns keep even their owners safe. Most of America’s gun deaths are suicides: Firearms are the country’s leading method of suicide, and the rate of firearm suicides is higher in America than just about everywhere else.
We chose several different Canadian causes of death — purposeful, accidental, illness-related — with frequency rates roughly similar to U.S. firearm death rates.
Overall, Americans are almost 70 per cent more likely to die at the end of a gun — shot by someone else, by themselves, by accident — than Canadians are to die in a car accident.
Thirty-five per cent more likely to be shot to death than Canadians are to die of a fall.
American firearm death rates are almost three times higher than Canadian death rates of ovarian cancer and Parkinson’s; 42 per cent higher than Canadian prostate cancer deaths; 10 per cent higher than pneumonia.