Mapping Gun Ownership and Homicides by Country

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A new interactive feature on The Guardian’s “Data Blog” pulls in gun homicide data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Small Arms Survey to map the number of guns and gun deaths in countries around the world. Some key facts from their report:

• The United States 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 — and even the number two country, Yemen, has significantly fewer – 54.8 per 100 people
• But the U.S. does not have the worst firearm murder rate — that prize belongs to Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica. In fact, the U.S. is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people
• Puerto Rico tops the world’s table for firearms murders as a percentage of all homicides — 94.8%. It’s followed by Sierra Leone in Africa and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean

The Guardian's gun homicide and ownership interactive map

Click on the map to view on The Guardian website.

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  • me

    What is the purpose of this post?

  • Carolinaviking

    If you don’t see the purpose, you are pretty damn stupid.

  • Anonymous

    The purpose is the nation with the greatest number of firearms is also the safest. Look at South America and Africa and the Middle East. There is always war, apartheid but yet they have lithe least number of guns.

  • Alan Webber

    The huge number of firearms in the USA makes it the leader in deaths by firearms. Over 9,000 in the USA to 150 in Germany. Less guns = less killings

  • Anonymous

    Yes, despite the accelerating rate of shootings, the US must be getting safer every day. But why let facts get in the way?

  • Anonymous

    It would be timely if Bill could invite Prof. Michael Kimmel to talk about his extensive research on school shootings and gender. Kimmel’s in Sociology at SUNY Stony Brook. He has published jointly with his colleague there, Rachel Kalish.

  • Eric Grate

    “The huge number of firearms in the USA makes it the leader in deaths by firearms.” – That’s not true but don’t let facts stop you from saying it.

  • Sean

    So, by the numbers presented here, 88 guns per 100 people in the U.S. = 88,000 per 100,000 and if there are 2.97 (we can say 3) fire arm murders per 100,000 people then there are 3 firearm murders per 88,000 guns and that means 0.000034% of guns in the U.S. kill people.

  • billyfd

    We are ranked 4th in deaths by firearms. It is not guns that kill people, it is sacred people with guns worried about income inequality and race relations that kill people……

  • Sean

    Did you read the article? It is only two paragraphs…” But the U.S. does not have the worst firearm murder rate — that prize belongs to Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica. In fact, the U.S. is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people.” C’mon, man!

  • Josh

    So by your logic, if everyone in the U.S. had a gun, then the rate of guns that kill people would be even smaller, which is true. However the gun murder rate could still go up. So having more guns would decrease the percentage of GUNS that kill people, but not the amount of people who are killed by guns. Nice math, moron.

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    Thank You,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Sayre Piotrkowski

    Personally I think blaming the mere abundance of guns is too simple of an answer. This chart sort of supports those who say there is no direct correlation between abundant gun ownership and abundant gun violence. However, the NRA and the pro-gun culture it both cultivates and feeds off does bare some culpability here in my view. If the pro-gun world only promoted gun use for hunting, sport and collectors perhaps than we could argue that the abundance of guns and the abundance of gun violence have no connection. However this is not how the NRA operates. That organization requires a constituency of supporters who remain evermore frightened and armed, who always believe that there is a threat to their safety and liberty right around the corner. I have read a fair amount of NRA literature and things published by like-minded propagandists that seem intended to keep people frightened. Frightened of the big bad boogie man that may come to harm you in the night, and frightened that a government that has not made a new anti-gun law since I was in elementary school is hell-bent on taking your guns away and leaving you powerless to protect yourself.

    Paranoid folks with easy access to weapons is a dangerous combination,

    The real issue for me with guns is that it is the one policy category wherein we have outsourced our law-making on the issue to a fundamentalist group. The NRA is an advocacy organization pledged to fight for gun rights regardless of the situation or issue. Allowing that organization to make all of our policy decisions around gun laws would be like allowing PETA to regulate farm policy, or James Dodson to regulate Abortion policy. In those regards, we recognize zealots/radicals as such. We know what their view will be on any issue without needing to ask. They are not expected to rationally weigh both sides, they are expected to fight as hard as possible for the point of view of their constituencies. That is fine, provided that the adults in the room recognize them for what they are, here them out and then leave them out of the room when the policy is made. Really, what is the rational (not fundamentalist, theoretical or philosophical) argument against an assault weapons ban? Waiting periods? Or the ban of high capacity magazines?

  • Mike Aumick

    I have personally been in two imminently violent situations that were completely diffused when they saw my gun.

  • santafemf

    And would you have been killed without that gun? Besides the bias of one person’s opinion of an experience, the statistics just make you lucky. I personally know of 3 people killed this year with their own guns and 1 who survived in one of those situations by running rather than going for her gun.

  • Anonymous

    Aim high Sean, aim high. Well-done, the US is better than 3rd-world countries.

  • Mitisursis

    It should be pointed out that those few countries with higher homicide rates also have smaller populations, therefore it takes fewer murders in those countries to increase the per capita homicide rate. Conversely, to increase the per capita homicide rate in the U.S. would require pretty shocking increases in the raw numbers of homicides.

    Also, it should be considered that crimes generally revolve around drugs – and that is about money; or about robbery, or about gang power. That is, it’s about property. The U.S. is a wealthy nation, but not even close to an equal nation. While there is correlation between number of firearms and homicide rates, the stronger correlation is between the relative inequality in countries and their relative homicide rates. In other words, some countries with more guns, like the Scandinavians and Switzerland, are more equal, and more racially homogeneous; and that explains their lower homicide rates.

  • Walter Tonetto

    Gun ownership belongs to third-world countries, assuming a high level of ignorance! The US is probably near the top in terms of ego, and worship before the shrine of Ego and Stupidity and Greed in so many ways.

    You can have atrocities in kindergartens, and yet the US Senate will not even make the most perfunctory identity checks pass into law: the blinkers sit very tight with such an egoic structure, and the US will continue to pay the price (horrible cliche, but true) because it is too arrogant to understand the power of the illusions created by its oversized ego!

  • Walter Tonetto

    “We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful
    countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But
    if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own
    prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to
    the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in
    our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To
    work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of
    men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the
    opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to
    plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that
    will be passed on for generations to come. ”

    Thich Nhat Hanh,

    Living Buddha, Living Christ

  • grelpa

    How about including suicides and accidents? That would greatly change the numbers.

  • janice813

    What are the statistics on suicides and accidental deaths? I would be willing to bet that would put the U.S. much higher on the list.

  • Cynthia ViolinSensei

    I think you are right in that it depends on who owns them. The well measured and responsible or the impulsive and compulsive. Sadly the NRA is feasting on our less than desirable or appropriate motivations. We need to find some way to brown bag the gun porn.

  • Cynthia ViolinSensei

    The war is on our streets and in our homes with more casualties than any war that we have ever fought abroad.

  • Gearoid Walsh

    For it to be a criticism of gun policy, homicide itself (regardless of the manner) needs to also be measured. I would rate that as more important, and maybe also it should be looked at in parallel with the gun homocide measure to see what that looks like.

  • sheada

    So where does the USA fall for gun homicides when only compared with other developed countries?

  • sheada

    The USA is in 1st or.second place for gun homicides when compared to other developed, industrialized countries.

  • Sieben Stern

    I have to say – Norway, Finland, Switzerland, and Canada – they all have good education systems. I think it’s more – tons of guns in the hands of stupid people in a country based on income equality and no concept of community and each one for himself that lead to deaths.

    I also find it disturbing that killing is considered conservation and an enjoyment aka ‘hunting’. The fact that people think it’s fun to kill is part of the problem. No empathy.

  • Sieben Stern

    excellent question!

  • Don Boldt

    Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica all have rebel problems that lead to gun deaths- much the same atmosphere promoted by the NRA in the U.S. We will get there- nobody outdoes the NRA when it comes to guns for criminals, guns for the insane, and guns for the paranoid sheep.

  • Herbert J Levinson

    I believe that our Country would be a lot worse if guns were less available. We probable would have surcome to dictatorship with the likes of Bush, Rockefeller and others of that ilk.

  • Herbert J Levinson

    Did you forget WWII and the Nazi program before the war confiscating civilian weapons?

  • Cheryl Turner

    agree! Why would we want to kill aren’t we all “Gods” creatures, I understand having to kill to live but wanting to kill or even worse finding sport in it is sick.

  • Kris Rosvold

    Brains…they’re NOT JUST for resting your ears upon…

  • Kris Rosvold

    READ…US is 29th. We definitely could do better though. Here’s a succinct description of my views on the matter.

  • Kris Rosvold

    An additional side effect of gun ownership by SANE folk (as the Australians found out) is that it makes the crooks and abusers in any society a little more careful because they just might run into someone who will shoot back!

  • Sam

    1st, say what you want, I feel 10 times safer for myself and my family knowing I have guns loaded and ready to stop a home invasion to do bodily harm. If there was a home invasion to do bodily harm and someone had to call 911 or any other means, you and/ or your family would suffer. This is common sense. Passing laws against gun ownership or restricting them is only restricting law abiding people which are not the problem to start with. I feel for any and all those harmed by guns by those that want to cause harm but lets face it, law breaking individuals that want to harm you are already breaking the law. New laws won’t stop them. Harsh punishment of those that do would probably be the route to take. The main problem with the USA is there are too many people trying to tell other people how to live their lives. So all you people that want guns outlawed can say what you want, either legal or illegal, I will protect my family. Bottom line, I believe that logic of outlawing guns to prevent violence is incorrect. I don’t wish the liberals any harm but they apparently haven’t had a situation yet to where they needed a gun. I hope they never do because they will be easy prey. Common outlaws will probably target your home before mine.

  • Todd Saylors

    what is the rational answer to your questions? The answer is simple, look to the 1920s for your answer.

    A group of people do not like alchol. Just like you do not like guns.

    Two groups gain massive amounts of power during prohibition. government and criminals.You are wanting repeat this because of your own fear/dislike of a object.

    This article and your statements above prove it. By the simple fact that there is a division between homicides and gun homicides

  • Major

    Highly centralized, federalist military control v. Citizen military control (on a much more localized and decentralized level)…this is the greatest source of violent tension in the USA. The Constitution, by the grace of the wisdom of the Revolutionary society who experienced, first hand, the throes of an eruption of this tension, recommends the latter (as outlined in the Constitution, foreseeing the inevitability of the return of authoritarian gov’t abuse and control of the people), while the corporate owners of media (who, now, pull the economic puppet strings of all branches of gov’t and federal military power) recommend the former. One should seriously consider whether it is wise to relinquish further authority to a corporately influenced/run federalist system whose primary interests are in creating a docile consumer society and labor pool, completely vulnerable to corporate interests; privatized prisons (who lock up more non-violent people than any other country on Earth, causing social tension), privatized health industry (whose “bottom line care” and especially its mental health component is very weak, causing violent perturbations), privatized/imperialistic foreign wars causing massive violence and terrorist reprisals (and domestic wars, think US induced drug war policy responsible for the rise of gang violence/cartels), private control of US economic institutions and regulation (and resulting economic crashes/violence due to homelessness and joblessness), privatized control of public energy resources (including all oil fields and other resources on public property and federal waters, including fisheries and water resources) and violence perpetrated upon society and emanating from these thefts…it’s not the guns and it spits on the graves of the 1st Vets of the Revolution to ignore their warnings and the rights they secured to battle the true source of this eras violent tensions.

  • Rhea Becker

    We are fools not to clamp down on gun ownership, and I mean, ALL guns.

  • PaulMoser

    Paranoia is the stock and trade of the NRA. Is the government, the one you have encouraged to build a huge, sophisticated military, going to worry about your little Glock if they wanted to take you out? Will your Bushmaster protect you from a Hellfire missile? Be serious. The fact is, fear-mongering is a manipulative method to keep gun manufacturers happy; your having a gun will not protect you from the government. What WILL protect you is speaking up about issues important to you, organizing, and doing away with corruption in the government we have RIGHT NOW.

  • oldhand

    I cannot agree with your Revolutionary Vets comments because they could not have imagined the killing capacity of today’s weapons. This was written in a time when we were not a world power – we lived in fear of a fledgling gov’t being overrun by the colonial powers of the day. We had no army, so keeping armed citizens and local militia was seen as a way to help defend against that threat. Now, we have (arguably) the finest military and weaponry in the world. We also have state troopers, national guard, and local police. When individual crazies go on a terror spree, or when organized terror groups attack us, it is these groups that protect us, not the guy down the street with 6 Uzis under the bed. At this point, the militia groups that exist in the U.S. are much more threatening to our society than the idea that the U.S. military or local cops are going to conficate everyone’s weapons. Their seperatist, paranoid views border on treason, in my opinion. No person or group needs 300 or 3000 semiautomatic weapons, unless they are preparing to wage war. Don’t tell me it’s for “protection” – b/c if the U.S. military wanted to attack you, they will always outweapon you – in technology, ammo, and sheer numbers.

    I take to heart your comments on giving serious consideration to allowing the corporates additional authority. The NRA and the Citizens United rulings are two perfect examples of the corporate mindset (eg money) running amok and damaging our system of government. The drafters of our founding documents already recognized the danger that money could pose to our democracy – the poison it injects into a system of representation that is supposed to be based on the citizens’ votes for their representatives. No taxation without representation was the crux of the separation from Britain. The gov’t was formed so we, the people, could have our say – but we now have a SCOTUS that says corporations are people. We have the NRA and other right wing groups spending millions to spread propaganda of paranoia, fear, intolerance, and hate. Instead of focusing on the confiscation of guns in Nazi Germany before the war, we should focus on the climate of fear and blame that they created. A climate that allowed the premeditated murder of millions. I see attempts to recreate that atmosphere – laying blame on minorites, “illegal aliens”, gays, nonchristians, women, etc – the identification and segregation of groups that are “the cause of your problems”. Perhaps the most bizarre part is watching politicians blaming the federal gov’t as the source of the problems for the “everyman”. They berate the very system from which they profit, but don’t acknowledge that it is their voting by lobby power, not constituent power, that cracks the very foundation of our system.

    We are also quick to forget we wiped out those who occupied this land before us, and then brought millions here as slaves. We are a great nation, but like other great nations, we have made – and continue to make – some horrendous mistakes. Do we need a poisonous pipeline through our farmlands? Do we need to subsidize oil companies who give us catastrophic spills caused by their own negligence ? Why are hedge fund managers allow to pay capital gains rates on their income instead of income tax rates? Why do corporations with record profits pay less taxes than a worker? And why do citizens think their right to have a gun means that they have no responsibility for where that gun goes and what it does? A woman has the right to privacy and to control her own health but that hasn’t stopped the pro-lifers in some places from eradicating its availability. We have separation of church and State, but you regularly hear politicians say they are against (or for) something because of their personal religious beliefs. One of the first reasons folks came to the New World was to escape religious persecution – now our representatives shove their radical, narrow-minded evangelism down our throats on a daily basis – and intrude into our bedroms and our bodies. Where is the outrage of this egregious encroachment on our rights?

    So yes, I think seriously about corporate greed – or any greed – making decisions about what this country will become…but I will also fight anarchists, and those who stockpile weapons, or who want to buy, trade, sell, or own guns without any paper trail or background checks. If this country is producing more people who would commit mass murder, I agree we should look at education, healthcare, etc. but look at what & who the GOP has demonized since the Reagan days – unions, teachers, immigrants, minorities, women, national healthcare (death panels?), environmentalism, climate change science, evolution, stem cell research, and the right to vote. Reagan was pro-gun control – at one point, not long ago, even the NRA backed universal background checks. Weapons have gotten deadlier, so why are background checks now an infringement of the 2nd amendment?

    Wyatt Earp made everyone leave their guns before they entered Tombstone. He didn’t say they couldn’t own guns, but he knew that when you combine foolish or frustrated humans with guns, unnecessary violence takes place. If you want to live in a safe society, the answer is not to give everyone a gun. It is not to teach 5 yr olds how hostile the world is by having armed guards presiding over naptime and reading hour.

    Homeowners have their guns used against them far more often then they use it against the intruder – having a gun for that reason is likely a very false sense of security. Even highly trained, armed marksman are murdered by the simple element of surprise. Last week, 2 four-year-olds killed a child and a young woman. One gun was a deputy’s gun. These are not guns in the hands of people who don’t know their dangers – it’s human nature, human error. Yes, criminal will get guns despite laws, but why make it so easy as going online or to a gunshow? Why did the mother of the Newtown shooter need semiautomatic weapons? Why did she bring them into the house with a son who had mental illness? Do these decisions earn her the right to be murdered by that son?

    Gov’t is in place to allow the individual to seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Public safety is the purview of gov’t. If you can ticket me for not wearing a seatbelt, when doing so poses no risk to anyone but myself, then – for public safety – you can put restrictions and accountabilities on those who choose to own weapons. And you can delineate what types of weapons private citizens can have. If you don’t, your nutty neighbors might just have a very nasty surprise for you and your family.

    As for those who say we don’t need gun control, we need better laws on mental illess – you are dealing with infringing on a more fundamental right than the right to bear arms. Current law says the court must label someone as mentally ill or they must have been hospitalized for such before you can deny them the right to buy a gun. If we loosen this, what is our standard? Someone who takes antidepressants? Someone with no friends? Folks with OCD? ADHD? Personality disorders? What about folks who get jobs as security guards or community patrols because they couldn’t pass the psychological profile for the military or police force?

    To those who say gun control laws only restrict “law abiding citizens which are not the problem to start with” – I suggest you visit the survivors of the families that lost loved ones to the 4 yr old shooters in New Jersey and Tennessee. I doubt there is any comfort in knowing your child is dead from the gun of a law-abiding citizen.

  • Paul Bowman

    and your facts about Nazi gun confiscation? Breitbart? Infowars?

  • Ken

    Just thought I’d mention it to those who don’t know it.( NRA Members ) Puerto Rico IS PART OF THE US. ” Puerto Rico tops the world’s table for firearms murders as a percentage of all homicides — 94.8%

  • dmcrane

    Kris, the U S is 29th in number of gun deaths per 100K people. However, we are closer to the top for total number of gun deaths. Simple, there a more people here than there. And in some communties/states the rate is much higher due to the prevalence of illegal guns/unregistered guns and unregulated gun ownership. The states with the most guns “almost” always have the highest gun deaths..I believe there is one, possibly Montana, where that is not true. The areas with the most “un-background checked” guns have the highest gun deaths. Apples to Oranges does not a good parallel make. There are still too many gun deaths in this country and my right to feel safe from gun wielding criminals and nuts should not be trumped by the NRA’s need to make more money from/for gun manufacturers. I have stickers on my car that some people don’t like. I disliked it very much when some nut case who took exception to my stickers waved a fist and a gun at me on the highway. I’m a dangerous looking 70 year old after all, and he was angry at my bumper stickers….none of which are about guns.

  • Valerie Anne Green

    i often wonder why there is so much language from ? the far right I guess ? that ‘liberals’ want to take guns away. I had a good friend who took down her own deer and I admire the capability to feed one’s self. However I figured out that this was an area I didn’t need to explore. My nephew is a swat officer. There are many people I trust implicitly with guns. Hunters, law officers, recreational shooters, hobbyist collectors, investigators, soldiers…..
    What I don’t trust is undisciplined willy nilly handing out of guns to people with questionable backgrounds – I don’t trust every yahoo on the street, the sort who seek out People who feel a compelling need to walk around with the holster and pistol in plain sight? The men who showed up at a women and children’s protest brandishing weapons? These people strike me as a little deranged – I would strongly advise female family members away from these types of males.

  • umbe

    Can you call your country “civilised” if you need guns “loaded and ready” to protect your family and “stop home invasion”? Are you in a civil war, or do you live in a sort of “mad max” world with savages roaming the land? I’ve lived in different parts of the world and never had the need to have weapons to protect myself and my family. But maybe I was lucky and alas, never lived in the US, so maybe you’re right. I really feel for you then.

  • jana sheehan

    firearm murder rate is only a part of the story (and does not take into equation the overall crime rate in the given country, which would be a more appropriate context). the accidental homicide and suicide rates by firearm is a whole other story.

  • Daniel Borrero

    If it is the person not the gun, why don’t we legalize machine guns, or, flame throwers, or, anti-aircraft rockets? Responsible people would only use them in case of need… The risks are just too great with a few crazy people being able to get a hold of those weapons. Regulation to a rational level like limiting the amount of bullets per magazine or not allowing semi-automatic weapons is a rational balance, not taking away rights.

  • EnricoLudo

    The only purpose of a gun is “to kill”, everything else is only an excuse.

  • Australiawhereguncontrolworked

    You are right… its called data standardisation, its the only way you can compare statistics when the populations of countries differ, there is no point comparing raw data (eg deaths by gun).

    Take for instance at the first graph, it clearly shows a positive linear relationship between the number of guns and deaths by guns. America sits in the top right corner…

    Seriously America, you are an embarrassment to the rest of the first world…

  • Anonymous

    Nice link! here’s another one back atcha – it’s a video, I recommend the whole thing, but on the homicide aspect, you can skip to 7:15 –

    I agree we are an embarrassment. We’re the global home of capitalism and neo-colonialism. We Americans are being turned back into colonies along with the rest of the world’s nations, by corporations.

    One nasty consequence is that people are pissed about it.

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I can’t wait for the day that people stop killing people. But taking away the instruments of death isn’t the answer..because the tools aren’t killing people, people are killing people. We spend so much money on law enforcement and law enforcement technologies..very little on figuring out why innocent little babies are growing with a desire to kill.

    Perhaps it’s violence in the media? Perhaps it’s lack of parental guidance? Perhaps it’s our relentless attacks on each others’ self esteems? Perhaps it’s a product of our “alpha” obsessed culture and the powerlessness, worthlessness and feelings of failure it evokes in society’s chosen “omegas”?

    It seems that not too many people are REALLY trying to solve the complex problems that result in senseless killing. Instead it seems, as when we take miracle diets or play the lottery, that we are looking for a “quick fix” to our dilemmas.

    Taking the guns away isn’t going to solve anything.

    Ask the soldier in London who was hacked to death with a meat cleaver and a kitchen knife.

    Ask the 87 people who died in the Happy Land fire in the Bronx back in 1990.

    Ask the victims of the various “stranglers” who used: rope, silk stockings, garrotes, windex and their bare hands to dispatch their twisted ends.

    Ask James Bulger, the innocent 2 year old who was brutally tortured and killed by two 10 year olds who used, among other items: bricks, rocks, boots, batteries, railway steel and gravity.

    Shall we regulate EVERYTHING then? Shall all tools be off limits, (including gravity and our hands) because we are so dedicated to this way of life that makes monsters of innocent babies?

    Because in the end, if we continue to blame the tools, we will do nothing to fix a society that has gone horribly awry..and the killing will go on.

  • William

    Thank you for articulating these thoughtful comments!