The Daily Dose Blog The Daily Dose Blog Home

A global view on American gun violence

Firearm ownership and homicides relative to the rest of the world.

By Rich_Maloof Dec 19, 2012 7:50PM

Around the world, there are more than 656,000,000 firearms in the hands of civilians. A fresh batch of eight million small arms are manufactured every year, plus 10 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition. That’s enough to shoot every person in the world — twice.

Photo: Bill Boch/Getty ImagesWhere does the U.S. rank in gun ownership and gun violence relative to other countries of the world?

It depends on how you consider the data: by percentage of guns per capita, by mass killings committed, by gun homicides in nations with comparable economies, or even by unintentional gun deaths.

We are the unrivaled leader in all of those categories.

Here are a few facts to begin gaining some perspective.

There are an estimated 270,000,000 guns held by civilians in the U.S. — more than the number of passenger cars by about 50 million. It may be expected that we’d have more than the other 178 countries surveyed, but we also have by far the highest percentage of guns per capita. The rate? For every 100 people in America there are 88.8 guns. The nearest competitor is Serbia at 58.21 per 100 people, and rates fall off significantly from there.

Related: What NOT to say to families who are grieving

Ownership rates can’t be equated with violence, and we are not the most homicidal nation by a long shot. Honduras has only 6.2 guns per 100 people, a small fraction of our own rate, but has the most homicides per gun. In that small Central American republic there are 68.43 killings by gun per 100,000 people, compared to just 2.98 per 100,000 in the U.S.

In fact, underdeveloped nations far surpass wealthier regions in armed civilian violence. Countries in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, the near and middle East, and Southwest Asia far outgun North America, Central Asia, and Europe in percentage of homicides by firearm.

Bing: Obama pledges action on gun violence now

However, relative to other highly developed nations, our record is abysmal. Using statistics from the UN and national sources, PolitiFact calculated that the rate of gun homicide in the U.S. was 15 times the rate of comparable countries like Australia, Japan, Norway, and the UK nations (as of 2009).

Mass shootings are not unique to America. But for civilian massacres outside of wartime, we have more than all other nations combined. Of the 25 worst mass shootings of the past 50 years listed in Time this past July, months before Sandy Hook, 15 occurred in the U.S. Of the other nations, only Finland, with two entries, had more than one shooting ranked.

Related: Managing kids' media exposure

Worldwide there are more than 1,000 gun deaths daily. In the U.S., we average 25 every day, or more than one person shot to death every hour.

Back in 2000, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the death toll from small arms “dwarfs that of all other weapons systems — and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

In other words, the carnage wrought by the most devastating weapons of mass destruction ever unleashed on mankind is repeated every year in gun violence. Certainly there’s an argument to be made for responsible firearm ownership. But there’s no debating that if it weren’t for gun violence, nearly 300,000 people who were alive at this time last year would still be breathing.

Primary sources: Geneva Declaration Secretariat, GunPolicy.org, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, PolitiFact Virginia

Photo: Bill Boch/Getty Images

Subscribe to the Daily Dose

More from MSN Living:
Mom of mentally ill son asks for help
Whether - and what - to tell your kids about this tragedy
How to help your kids feel safe

Dec 19, 2012 11:22PM

" But there’s no debating that if it weren’t for gun violence, nearly 300,000 people who were alive at this time last year would still be breathing."

I will debate that in a heartbeat! Pretty much indicates Rich Maloof has NO idea what he is talking about. As if any one of these people would not have been killed by some other means if a gun was not present. The UK is a prime example with a murder rate that is higher (per Capita) than over 1/2 of the 50 states if you look at them individually. Lets twist the numbers to what ever we like and then LIE to the reading public as if they are nothing less than the politicians that carry more guns (per capita) than most of the public.

Dec 19, 2012 11:22PM
A person dies every half hour from a drunk driver.  Don't hear very much about that from the left.
Dec 19, 2012 11:21PM
Clever bit of left wing propaganda.  By only noting that 300,000 a year are being killed by gun violence he presumes away the pro gun arguments, thus ignoring that without guns many of those 300,000 would have been killed by other means and more importantly, gun ownership prevented acts of violence.  Whether the net number preserved or lost due to guns is positive or negative IS the argument.
Dec 19, 2012 11:18PM

But there’s no debating that if it weren’t for gun violence, nearly 300,000 people who were alive at this time last year would still be breathing.


Because there is no possible other way to kill a human.  So yep, no debating.  All those people would still be alive.



Dec 19, 2012 11:15PM
This is boring. As usual the people killed by guns don't get to speak. Kids too.
Dec 19, 2012 11:13PM
These so called "facts" need to be broke down to see where the real problem lies.

1. Compare race to gun violence. See what races have the least and the most incidents      with guns.

2. Find out if the person who committed the gun violence actually owned the gun legally.

I know I'm going to get beat up about these suggestions but it will tell the tale about the gun violence here in the USA. 
Dec 19, 2012 11:13PM
lets look at Chicago where Obama roots were , they have the highest crime rate then any other State,   , toss in L A and St louis and the rest of the country is pretty mild more people get short in these three states then any of the rest together. Your not going to stop the killing, guns are like anything else the bad guys can get when ever they want them . 
Dec 19, 2012 11:12PM
This is a  attempt by Obama to rid  America of guns so as to clear the way for his muslim friends to take over America.  Beware this man.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

inspire: live a better life

about rich maloof
buzzing now on msn living
inspire videos
editor's picks