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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.

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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.

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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

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483Comments
Dec 19, 2012 10:32PM
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After reading this article it finally  came to me...........THE WHOLE PROBLEM ISN'T GUNS........................IT'S THIS COUNTRY.............and the ****s running it.
Dec 19, 2012 10:31PM
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I am so f'ing sick and tired of hearing how guns don't kill people, people kill people, people WITH guns kill people! Get used to it, there is going to be some sort of firearm control, ,there is no reason in the world for anyone to own an AR15 or an Uzi or any kind of assault weapon. We have the highest murder by firearm rate in the civilized world, something has to be done!
Dec 19, 2012 10:30PM
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"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 don't think all 300,000 would still be breathing.  In some cases, the killer would choose a different weapon.  So, maybe 270K, 280K, would be alive, but not every one of them  (Also, statistically some would have died from other causes, like car accidents, etc).

 

So, I guess there IS some debate.

Dec 19, 2012 10:30PM
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the author  of this article has some interesting information however they say that not for gun violence there would be another 300,000 people alive today truly though one cannot  say that because cars drugs bad air artery clogging foods sugars in an unhealthy dose knifes accidents of million ways. so really you can never truly say that had it not been for the gun the death  wouldn't have happen

Dec 19, 2012 10:28PM
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Why clever people would prefer firearms for protection since those ones have only caused tragedies ? Obviously, smart people prefer good things rather than blunders,  be smart and avoid tragedies, the victim could be yourself or your loved ones.
Dec 19, 2012 10:27PM
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Of course we have the most guns and obama wants to take em,bwahahahahahaha.

 

Dec 19, 2012 10:26PM
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I am a Fire arms instructor with extensive military experience. I am saddened and disgusted at what has taken place against these beautiful children in our country. The children have not yet been given a decent burial and yet both sides are fighting like hyenas to press their political will and often misinformed opinions onto our citizens. However,one thing is certain, no other child or school, family or community must suffer such a tradegy ever again. Let that be the memorial for these beautiful children!!

Is a child's life worth more than your desire to have and to own an assualt rifle! If you want to have such a firearm join our great military and fullfill your obligation to safe gaurd our country. There is no need for "civilians" to own assualt rifles or to be able to out gun our law enforcement officers. Our existing firearms are sufficient for us to enjoy shooting sports, hunting and self defense. We live in a democracy so lets respect every American citizen, lets stop arguing amongst ourselves. Hold the children close this Christmas and pray for those who have lost loved ones. Make the New Year's resolution for Newtown kids, PROTECT OUR CHILDREN AND OUR FUTURE.

Dec 19, 2012 10:26PM
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The President is like most politicians and bureaucrats.  He does not know what an assault weapon is.  They mention firearms designed for Soldiers. 
There are 5 branches of the Armed Forces.  Soldiers are in the Army. Sailors are in the Navy, not soldiers.  Airmen are in the Airforce, Not soldiers. Coasties are in the Coast Guard,  Not Soldiers.  Marines are certainly not soldiers.  Also Navy and Marine aircrews carried 2" and 4" .38 Special revolvers during WW2, Korea, and VietNam.  Are these "{guns designed for soldiers" that will be on the "banned" list. 
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