According to GunPolicy.org, 75 percent of the world's 875 million guns are civilian controlled. Roughly half of these guns (48 percent) are in the United States, which has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. Globally, millions are wounded and killed by the use of guns. Assault by firearm resulted in 180,000 deaths in 2013 up from 128,000 deaths in 1990. There were additionally 47,000 unintentional firearm-related deaths in 2013.
Levels of gun-related violence vary greatly among geographical regions, countries, and even subnationally. Rates of violent deaths by firearm range from as low as 0.03 and 0.04 per 100,000 population in Singapore and Japan, to 59 and 67 per 100,000 in Honduras and Venezuela. The highest rates of violent deaths by firearm in the world occur in low-income South and Central American countries such as Honduras, Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica. The United States has the 11th highest rate of gun violence in the world, and by far the largest of any large or highly developed nation, having a gun homicide rate which is 25 times higher, an unintentional gun death rate which is 6 times higher, a firearm suicide rate which is 8 times higher, and an overall firearm death rate which is 10 times higher than the average respective rates of other high income nations. Compared to similarly wealthy nations with strict gun control laws, such as Japan, the United Kingdom, or South Korea, the United States has an overall rate of firearms death per capita, which is 50–100 times greater than many of its peers. The high rates of gun violence in the United States, which has the highest rate of gun-related deaths per capita among developed countries,:29 despite having the highest number of police officers, is sometimes thought to be attributable to its extreme rate of gun ownership, as it is the only nation in which guns exceed people. Nearly all studies have found a positive association between gun ownership and gun-related homicide and suicide rates.
According to the United Nations, deaths from small firearms exceed that of all other weapons combined, and more die each year from gun-related violence than did in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The global death toll from use of guns may number as high as 1,000 dead each day.
A number of ideas have been proposed on how to lessen the incidence of gun-related violence.
Some propose keeping a gun at home to keep one safer. Studies show that guns in the home increases the number of violent death in the home. According to the FBI, gun-related violence is linked to gun ownership and is not a function or byproduct of crime. Their study indicates that more than 90% of gun-related deaths were not part of a commission of a crime, rather they were directly related to gun ownership. Mother Jones reports that " Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun" and that "is odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater" when armed. Other studies have concluded that firearm possession provides a deterrent benefit. "Research conducted by Professors James Wright and Peter Rossi, for a landmark study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, points to the armed citizen as possibly the most effective deterrent to crime in the nation. Wright and Rossi questioned over 1,800 felons serving time in prisons across the nation" Others propose arming civilians to counter mass shootings. FBI research shows that between 2000 and 2013, "In 5 incidents (3.1%), the shooting ended after armed individuals who were not law enforcement personnel exchanged gunfire with the shooters." Another proposal is to expand self defense laws for cases where a person is being aggressed upon, although "those policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides" (that is, shootings where self-defense cannot be claimed).
There is a strong relationship between guns in the home, as well as access to guns more generally, and suicide risk, the evidence for which is strongest in the United States. A 1992 case-control study conducted in Tennessee and Washington found that individuals in a firearm owning home are close to five times more likely to commit suicide than those individuals who do not own firearms. A 2002 study found that access to guns in the home was associated with an increased risk of suicide among middle-aged and older adults, even after controlling for psychiatric illness. As of 2008, there were 12 case-control studies that had been conducted in the U.S., all of which had found that guns in the home were associated with an increased risk of suicide. However, a 1996 New Zealand study found no significant relationship between household guns and suicide. Assessing data from 14 developed countries where gun ownership levels were known, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found statistically significant correlations between those levels and suicide rates. However, the parallels were lost when data from additional nations was included.:30 A 2006 study found a significant effect of changes in gun ownership rates on gun suicide rates in multiple Western countries. During the 1980s and 1990s, the rate of adolescent suicides with guns caught up with adult rates, and the 75-and-older rate rose above all others.:20–21 The use of firearms in suicides ranges from less than 10 percent in Australia to 50 percent in the United States, where it is the most common method and where suicides outnumber homicides 2-to-1. Those whoe purchased a firearm where found to be high risk for suicide within a week of the purchase The United States has both the highest number of Suicides and Gun ownerships for a developed country and firearms are the most popular method to commit suicide. In the United States when Gun ownerships rise so too does suicide by firearm. Suicide can be an impulsive act, 40% of those who survived a suicide attempt said that they only considered suicide up to five minutes before attempting the act. This impulsivity can lead to the use of a firearm as it is seen as a quick and lethal method.
According to U.S. criminologist Gary Kleck, studies that try to link gun ownership to victimology often fail to account for the presence of guns owned by other people. Research by economists John Lott of the U.S. and John Whitley of Australia indicates that safe-storage laws do not appear to affect juvenile accidental gun-related deaths or suicides. In contrast, a 2004 study led by Daniel Webster found that such laws were associated with slight reductions in suicide rates among children. The same study criticized Lott and Whitley's study on the subject for inappropriately using a Tobit model. A committee of the U.S. National Research Council said ecological studies on violence and firearms ownership provide contradictory evidence. The committee wrote: " research studies and data include a wealth of descriptive information on homicide, suicide, and firearms, but, because of the limitations of existing data and methods, do not credibly demonstrate a causal relationship between the ownership of firearms and the causes or prevention of criminal violence or suicide."