If 14.24 people per 100,000 passengers were being killed annually on airlines in the United States, commercial aviation would be shut down immediately for a complete overhaul. The same would be true for other industries or activities. Yet America has such a public health crisis, spawned by the ready availability of guns.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the United States topping the world's 36 richest nations in gun deaths, at the rate of 14.24 per 100,000 population rate. Japan, where guns are prohibited, had the lowest rate at .05 per 100,000. Fatalities in the study came from murders, suicides and accidental shootings.The CDCP survey is the first comprehensive international overview of gun-related deaths. It did not speculate why rates varied among the different nations.

While firearms alone cannot be blamed for the high domestic death rate - it takes people to pull the trigger - researchers noted that easy access to guns and society's acceptance of violence are big parts of the problem in the United States.

As one expert noted: "If you have a country saturated with guns - available to people when they are intoxicated, angry or depressed - it's not unusual guns will be used more often."

A predictable response from the National Rifle Association called the study flawed because it did not examine all causes of violent deaths. That, however, was not the aim of the research. It was merely to log gun-related deaths per capita for comparison purposes.

When viewed objectively, the data show a significant health crisis exists that deserves attention. Of the 88,649 gun-related deaths in the 36 countries studied, 45 percent occurred in the United States. Firearm fatalities were five to six times higher in the Americas than in Europe or Australia and New Zealand, and 95 times higher than in Asia.

That is cause for concern that should motivate government, law-enforcement, medical and sportsmen groups to get together in search of positive and reasonable solutions.