Armed Violence - The Problem

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More than 740,000 men, women, and children die around the world each year as a result of armed violence. Millions more are maimed or injured. Lost product due to homicides alone is conservatively estimated at between USD 95 billion and 163 billion per year. Violence due to armed conflict can decrease the annual growth of a typical economy by approximately two per cent. Poor people bear a disproportionate burden of death and injuries from violence, with over 90% of deaths from injuries occurring in low-middle income countries. The most lethal weapons used in armed violence – firearms – are by their design ­small, portable, rugged, and relatively inexpensive, and have been called “violence multipliers. They can wreak havoc with lives and livelihoods. Over 900 million small arms circulate in global markets, produced by more than 1,000 companies from nearly 100 countries. Small arms and light weapons alone kill an estimated 200,000 - 300,000 people per year.  “Violence is… important health problem – and one that is largely preventable. Public health approaches have much to contribute to solving it.”

Armed violence is an impediment to health and development.  It creates a culture of violence, diverts health care resources from disease control, health and nutrition education, creates internal displacement/refugees, encourages human rights and sexual abuse, and scares away investment while it increases the cost of doing business. It prevents humanitarian assistance from reaching people in need, it weakens the rule of law, and obstructs achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

In other worlds, armed violence and guns are bad for health and healthy societies.