‘Major public health problem‘ declared as study finds global gun deaths exceed 250,000 annually A new study has found that global gun deaths have passed 250,000 per year, with the US and five other countries in the Americas making up half the total fatalities. Its writers call it “a major public health problem for humanity.”

Tallying gun deaths in 195 different countries and territories from 1990 to 2016, the , published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that gun deaths rose from 209,000 deaths in 1990 to 251,000 in 2016.

Contributing to more than half of all gun deaths in 2016 was a collective of the United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico. Here, researchers found death rates rose to 40 per 100,000 in some places. They attributed the drugs trade and economic instability as contributing factors to the high rate.

Two thirds of the global deaths were homicides, with 27 percent attributed to suicides and 9 percent were accidental.

In the US, where the polarizing issue of gun ownership and regulation has been at the fore of public debate in the wake of recent mass shootings, gun deaths rose from 35,800 in 1990 to 37,200 in 2016.

However, the majority of US gun deaths were suicides, which increased from 19,700 to 23,800 during the same period. At 6 per 100,000, gun suicides the US ranks second for gun suicides behind Greenland who recorded 22 per 100,000. However, in Greenland, that just amounted to 11 deaths.

El Salvador ranked the highest in global gun deaths at nearly 40 per 100,000 people, while Singapore ranked lowest, with just 0.1 deaths per 100,000.

The numbers reflect more than “how many guns are around in a country,” said lead author Dr. Christopher Murray, a professor of health metrics at the University of Washington.

Noting that cultural beliefs about guns and suicide vary widely around the world, he added, “That‘s where we get this incredible range of firearm deaths.”