MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Now, the prevalence of domestic violence in the U.S. is comparable to what you see in many wealthy European countries. What is not comparable is the rate of gun violence. NPR's Nurith Aizenman reports.
NURITH AIZENMAN, BYLINE: When it comes to the key measures of socioeconomic success, the U.S. consistently scores near the top. Chris Murray is director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
CHRIS MURRAY: Well, in terms of development, we're one of the most developed countries in the world, you know, one of the highest income, highest levels of education.
AIZENMAN: And on all those indicators combined, the U.S. ranks ninth, right up there with countries like Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Canada. But those countries also all enjoy very low rates of death by gun violence. By contrast, in the U.S., nearly four people out of every 100,000 are killed with a firearm each year.
MURRAY: Twenty-seven times higher than what you see in Denmark, almost 10 times higher than what you see in Canada, so that's really quite extraordinary.
AIZENMAN: These statistics are from a giant database maintained by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that tracks every death every year in every country by every possible cause. The latest figures covering 2016 came out earlier this fall. We should note that the violent gun death rates do not include situations involving armed conflict or suicide. And Murray says even if you compare the U.S. picture on this to not just other wealthy countries but to all countries, the U.S. comes out pretty terribly.
MURRAY: The U.S. would be towards the bottom of all countries. They'd be in the bottom 30 of all, you know, 195 countries that we look at.
AIZENMAN: Some of the world's poorest nations have lower violent gun death rates than the U.S.
MURRAY: Many, if not most, countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
AIZENMAN: And veering towards South Asia, Bangladesh and Laos. Of course, there are countries that have far worse stats than the U.S., mainly in Central America and some parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras.
MURRAY: They have rates that can be 10 times higher than the U.S.
AIZENMAN: Murray says drug trafficking and gang violence in those places is probably a major driver. So what's behind the outsized gun violence rates in the U.S.?
MURRAY: Well, you know, I think if you look at the data on number of guns per capita in the U.S., it's much higher than countries at the same level of development status.
AIZENMAN: And while the availability of guns here is not the only factor, he says it's certainly got to be part of the explanation. Nurith Aizenman, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER'S "WAKE")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.