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  • From 2000 to 2016, life expectancy loss due to firearms among Americans was high and exhibited distinct racial differences and across age and intent.

    From 2000 to 2016, life expectancy loss due to firearms among Americans was high and exhibited distinct racial differences and across age and intent. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 December 2018

The life expectancy for white Americans dropped about two years and nearly three months due to firearms, with assault contributing less than a year.

Guns caused the life expectancy of black Americans to drop by more than four years from 2000 to 2016, twice as much as the decline in life expectancy of white Americans during the same period, according to an academic study published on Tuesday.

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Assault with firearms accounted for more than three years of the drop among black Americans, while the rest reflected suicides by gun, according to the report in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.

"The overall life expectancy loss is twice as high among blacks compared with whites and is driven by substantially higher homicide rates among blacks up to age 20," said the study. "This divergent race-specific life expectancy loss by age is in line with current evidence that suggests vast race differences in the years of life lost due to firearms before age 65 years."

"Our finding that the life expectancy loss related to suicides among whites does not offset the loss among blacks is indicative of persisting disparities in homicide among younger age groups," it added.

The authors concluded that "in the absence of comprehensive firearm legislation, targeted prevention programmes and policies are needed to mitigate the racial firearm injury gaps in the USA."

The study used data gathered from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to examine race-specific life expectancy loss in the United States related to firearms.

Bindu Kalesan, an author of the study and a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement that understanding how gun violence affects people of races may help with the development of more effective prevention programs.


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