Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gun-Related Deaths Higher in Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gun-Related Deaths Higher in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma has a higher gun death rate than the national average, and policymakers should address the issue as a pressing public health concern, said several researchers.

More scientific study is needed so legislators can base new laws on facts, rather than ideology, said Gary Raskob, University of Oklahoma Public Health College dean.

Oklahoma State University health education and promotion professor Randolph Hubach said developing evidence-based laws that promote safer communities is fiscally responsible.

About 15.6 residents per 100,000 died by firearms in 2014, about 106 Oklahomans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, the rate was 10.2 per 100,000 people, or 33,390 people. Oklahoma's gun death rate is lower than in 1986, the year of the Edmond postal worker shooting. That year the rate was 17.7.

The highest death rate by firearms was 18.3 in 1993, and the lowest was 12.77 in 2003, but there isn't a consistent trend over the last three decades, Hubach said.

Oklahoma has the ninth-highest gun death rate in the nation. Louisiana is highest at 18.9 deaths per 100,000 people and Hawaii was the lowest at 2.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

American gun-related violence is a substantial public health concern, a national study found. "Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA" was published in March in the Lancet medical journal. It examined state laws aimed at reducing gun-related violence.

Firearm identification laws and universal background checks for firearm and ammunition purchases were the most effective at reducing gun-related fatalities, the study found.

Nationwide background checks for gun purchases could reduce firearm death rates from 10.35 to 4.46 per 100,000 people. Nationwide background checks for ammunition purchases could lower gun death rates even further, to 1.99 per 100,000 people, the study found.

Though gun deaths make up 60 percent of all violent deaths in Oklahoma, homicides aren't the leading cause. Brandi Woods- Littlejohn manages the Oklahoma State Department of Health's violence prevention program and said suicides outnumber homicides by three to one. …

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