A new research report carried out by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in 2016 and modified in 2018 shows the number of recorded fatalities attributed to guns across the world – including data on South Africa.
The study, the latest on the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors, shows that more than 250,000 people died from firearm-related injuries in 2016, with half of those deaths occurring in only six countries.
All of these top gun-death countries are in the Americas, led by Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala.
South Africa, however, also ranks highly – 12th on the list overall – with Ethiopia 13th.
The 20 worst countries for gun-deaths
According to Dr Mohsen Naghavi, a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, and first author of the study, the research confirms what many have been claiming for years – “that gun violence is one of the greatest public health crises of our time”.
“There are no simple antidotes to address this health problem. The tragedy of each firearm-related death will continue until reasonable and reasoned leaders come together to address the issue.”
The researchers referenced South Africa as a case study for how gun control can effectively curb gun deaths in a country.
“The patterns documented in South Africa…support a link between regulatory restrictions on firearm access and subsequent reductions in firearm death rates,” the researchers said.
“In South Africa, rates of violent death decreased following the Firearm Control Act of 2000; it is estimated that this legislation may have prevented more than 4,500 deaths across 5 South African cities between 2001 and 2005.”
The most recent small arms survey found that there are currently 5,351,000 firearms in civilian possession in South Africa – placing it as the 20th highest in the world behind countries such as Saudi Arabia (5.5 million) and Iran (5.9 million).
Of these, approximately 3 million are registered (legal) firearms, while the remaining 2.35 million are unregistered. This means that there are effectively 9.65 civilian firearms per every 100 persons in the country.
In comparison, there are approximately 250,481 firearms registered to law enforcement in the country, and around 350,636 total military firearms.