A while ago, after writing several blogs about guns and gun violence in America, It was suggested to me that I take a look at the homicide by firearm rate to get a clearer perspective of violence in the United States and how perhaps it isn’t all that bad.
So I checked out the statistics collected by the UNODC ( United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) from their 2011 Global Study on Homicide.
According to their statistics The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts it first in the world for gun ownership ( the number two country, Yemen…(great company we’re in)… has significantly fewer at 54.8 per 100 people)
The united States also ranks 1st in the total number of all civilian firearms with 270 million.
We are also #1 in rate of ownership.
But, say gun proponents, the US does not have the worst firearm murder rate. In fact, the US is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people. Isn’t that good news? Even though we have all of the guns we don’t have the highest firearm murder rate. We’re only 28th!
And here are the winners…
Honduras…El Salvador… Jamaica…Venezuela…Guatemala…St. Kits…Trinidad and Tobago…Columbia…Belize…Puerto Rico…Brazil…South Africa…Dominican Republic…Panama…Bahamas…Ecuador…Guiana…Mexico…Philippines….Paraguay…Anguilla…Nicaragua…St. Vincent…Zimbabwe…Costa Rica…Argentina…and (wait for it)…Barbados.
Not exactly the major leagues of industrialized and sophisticated 1st World countries is it?
And don’t even ask who #29 is!…all right you asked…it’s Gaza and the West Bank.
Yes, gun advocates have something to be proud of. At least we don’t kill each other like they do in Gaza and the West Bank.
In fact you have to go way down the list before you’ll find any other 1st world countries
Switzerland was at 45, Italy 48 and Canada came in at #56…but remember this is a list of the percent of murders by firearm. Switzerland had 57 gun murders, Italy 417 and Canada 173. The United States had 9, 146…so statistics don’t always paint the entire picture.
When it comes to the total number of murders by firearms we’re 5th. Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Venezuela beat us out…but again which of those countries would you say out civilizes us? Interestingly enough they are also all in our hemisphere (in fact 25 of the top 28 are)…you know….the one the Monroe Doctrine told the rest of the world to keep their hands off of back in 1823.
But I digress because here is the most sobering statistic of all:
9,143 Americans were murdered with firearms in 2011 but At least 31,940 people died from gun injuries in 2011. That means that 22,797 citizens of the United States died from gunshot wounds that were what?
Accidents! Unintentional! Suicide!
This is what the proper and mathematical reading of statistics tells us.
Although outlaws kill over 9,000 people every year in the US, regular law abiding citizens like you and me kill 23,000 more!
Guns do not save lives. They kill the people who own them or their loved ones or their neighbors more than twice as often as they kill intended victims…and guess what?
And as we have increased gun ownership and the number of guns in our country over the last 30 years those numbers and ratios have been rising…and most sadly…with a bullet.
*** I wrote this post about guns in America 3 years ago and since then Congress has done nothing to attempt to reduce gun violence even though first-graders were horrifically shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. What in fact they have done is to criticize and block common-sense gun safety measures proposed by the President… until, that is, 14 more Americans were shot by 2 Muslims with guns in southern California last December. Then they decided to criticize the President for having done nothing to prevent it…like propose new laws and gun safety measures?
Now Republican presidential hopefuls, namely Mr. Donald Trump, are proposing measures to make our country safer from gun violence by making our country “Muslim free” or by eliminating the immigration of any new Muslims into our country.
Statistically speaking you have a .000099 chance of being shot by a gun in the US. Maybe that’s why we don’t care so much about gun violence…But you have about a .0004 chance out of that .000099 chance of that person who shoots you being a Muslim… And that’s what frightens us?
Here in the United States more than likely killing people with guns at home and around the world rather than spreading democracy at home and around the world, will be our ultimate legacy. Let’s face it, Guns R Us! It’s what we do. We like to own them. We like to use them. It’s the 2nd most important thing we could think of to add to our Constitution.
So If we don’t care very much about who gets shot…why do we care so much about who does the shooting?