A recent study says more Americans are suffering ‘violent deaths’ than those who live in other wealthy countries and some of the research points to firearms. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, the study comes at a time when the country is divided on gun control, but State Police say responsible gun-owners can help stop some of the violence.
NEW YORK -- Almost a month after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the country is in the middle of an intense gun control debate.
"We’ve got to crack down on illegal guns, access to military-style weapons, large numbers of rounds and invest in mental health," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) New York.
Now, a recent study finds widespread gun ownership and unsafe storage are to blame for more Americans dying from violence than citizens of any other wealthy nation. The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine study found there are six violent deaths per 100,000 Americans, and that the U.S. is home to 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned firearms. But some argue not all gun owners are irresponsible.
"For upstate New Yorkers, guns are cultural. My family hunts and fishes, it’s a whole different idea or feeling than say a place like New York City," said Rep. Richard Hanna, (R) 24th Congressional District.
Still, researchers say the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults is homicide and that a large number of those deaths involve guns. Last March, Edward O'Rourke, the father of a 12-year-old boy who fatally shot and killed his friend, Nicholas Naumkin, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child after he left his gun and ammunition in an unsecured part of the house where the boys found it. Troopers say tragic deaths like Naumkin’s can be avoided if parents take the right steps.
"Gun locks, cable box, or you can use lock boxes or gun safes, there's a lot of opportunities and way to keep a weapon safe. Another thing we need to stress is that guns and ammunition should never be stored together. Each of those things should be stored separately and there shouldn't be any ammunition in the gun," said Lt. Erik Dauber, Bureau of Criminal Investigations NYSP.
Along with that, State Police say educating yourself and your family about the dangers of guns could save a life.
The study also found that Americans are involved in more drunk driving accidents and suffer high rates of AIDS, infant mortality, and drug-related deaths.