Here’s how U.S. gun violence compares with the rest of the world

December 14, 2012

In the wake of Friday's deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., gun-control advocates have taken to social media to call for more stringent firearm restrictions.

The United States has notoriously liberal gun control laws, and it has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world -- an average of 88 per 100 people, according to a 2007 Small Arms Survey.

These maps, put together by the Guardian's Simon Rogers, reveal how we compare with the world:


Gun ownership rate. (Screenshot: The Guardian)

But countries with the most guns don't necessarily have the most gun-related homicides. The world's crime figures come from the UNODC annual crime survey, and while it does not include key nations, such as Russia, China and Afghanistan, it does include most other developed countries.  


Homicides by firearm per 100,000 people. Screenshot: The Guardian

The dubious distinction of having the most gun violence goes to Honduras, at 68.43 homicides by firearm per 100,000 people, even though it only has 6.2 firearms per 100 people. Other parts of South America and South Africa also rank highly, while the United States is somewhere near the mid-range. Still, America sees far more gun violence than countries in Europe, and Canada, India and Australia, which is perhaps how it gets its bloody reputation among comparatively peaceful nations.

When a person kills another in the United States, though, he or she generally uses a gun: 60 percent of U.S. homicides occur using a firearm, which is the 26th-highest rate in the world. (In other gun-permeated countries, such as Finland (45.3 guns per 100 people), only about 19 percent of homicides involve a firearm. 

Guns don't always kill people, it seems, but they certainly play a role.

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Max Fisher · December 14, 2012