Comparative Gun Ownership and Homicide Rates
The United States has 88 guns per 100 people. We have more civillian-owned firearms per capita than any other country in the world. Here’s a chart with our firearm ownership compared to the next five countries:
In addition, though the US has less than 5% of the world’s population, we have roughly 35–50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. (Guardian 2012 data)
Interestingly enough, though we have more guns per capita than any other country in the world, our gun homicide rate per 100,000 people isn’t the highest. We’re actually #28.
But notice two things about this chart:
1. With the exception of Liechtenstein, which made the top 30 because it had one gun homicide in 2012 and has such an incredibly small population, the United States is the only country in the Developed World that made the top 30 list.
2. We have more gun homicides per capita than West Bank and Gaza.
Comparisons with other causes of death
We’re rather obsessed with guns as dangerous, but here’s the thing: from the 2010 CDC report, there are a number of other things are more likely to kill you than guns:
Forget assault weapons bans, we need to ban ladders.
But even more dangerous: cars. You are nearly four times more likely than to die in a car accident than you are to be shot to death.
But before you get all excited about banning motor vehicles and suicides, here’s another chart that’ll give you a better idea of how this works.
As you can see, in the grand scheme of things, gun deaths really aren’t that big of a deal at all, statistically speaking. I sure wish we could find a way to ban “Other Causes,” though.
But it’s really all about protecting the kids.
Further proof that cars are evil. But it’s important to note that the scale on this chart and that the numbers on are per 100,000 kids. For scale, In 2010 in the U.S., 890 kids aged 5-14 died in motor vehicle accidents, while 165 died in homicides because they were shot. I don’t have a chart that shows how small that is by comparison to the number of kids there are in the US. You wouldn’t be able to see the number.
The UK Gun Ban
Now, Piers Morgan has been making a big deal about the fact that the UK has many fewer gun homicides as a result of their stricter gun laws. Others have pointed out that the UK has more homicides of other kinds. So what’s the truth? Glad you asked.
Two things to notice:
1. The USA has more homicides per 100,000, with or without guns, than the UK’s combined number.
2. These numbers are really really really small. More on that later.
Now, as to the notion that we would have more crime in the US if we banned guns. I searched the internet for three hours looking for statistics on how many crimes in the US are committed with guns vs how many are committed total. Those numbers are really really hard to find. In the end, I added up the numbers from factcheck.org’s chart to try to get something useful.
1. The UK has a much higher crime rate in general than the US, but
2. The US has a much higher gun crime rate than the UK. Apparently, if you take guns away from everybody, fewer criminals will have guns as well. However, it could (very easily) be argued that the UK has more crime because they have less guns. But they also have less murders. Whether you want a gun ban may well depend on your priorities.
So why do the liberals want to take everyone’s guns away?
Well first, Obama doesn’t, but more on that later. Among those who do, it’s probably because the primary purpose of a gun is to take the life of another being, and to do it quickly and effectively. People may buy guns “for target practice,” but the very word “practice” indicates that it’s, well, practice. Practice for what? The target might give you a hint.
Now most responsible Americans shoot at targets and would never shoot at another human being unless absolutely necessary or an animal unless absolutely necessary or they were hunting, but most have a gun just in case they someday need to shoot at another human being or an animal. Nobody wants to be put in that position, but most gun owners carry guns for that reason. Often, people carry guns to scare criminals. What would criminals possibly be scared of, if not being shot and killed?
Compare that to a baseball bat, a knife, a car, or anything else conservatives bring up in comparison as things that have been used as weapons, asking why we shouldn’t ban them instead. The answer is simple and twofold: They all serve other primary purposes, and they’re not as effective. Baseball bats are for hitting baseballs. Knives are for cutting things. Cars are for transportation. Try killing someone from a hundred feet away with a baseball bat or a knife. See how well that works. (Actually, don’t try. But if you did, it probably wouldn’t work). If you’ve ever tried to commit mass murder by running over people, you know it’s rather difficult. You have to tie them all up, get them to lay down, and then drive over them. But I digress.
Can we take down the government?
Everybody says that we need our second amendment rights in case the government gets unruly and needs to be taken down.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to work out very well. Besides, haven’t you heard about what happened in Waco? They got taken out, not by the marines or the national guard, but by the freakin’ ATF! I’m all for being brave and standing up to evildoers, but there’s a point where it just gets ridiculous. So can we please stop being stupid about this?
Obama’s Evil Plan
No, he doesn’t actually want to take everyone’s guns away. For the love of God, could everybody please stop saying that and at least read his evil plan before freaking out about it?
That being said, there are some things in his plan that might freak out my gun-rights-activist friends.
1. He wants to ban “assault weapons,” which is to say, certain kinds of semi-automatic weapons. Yes, I’ve seen the videos you’ve all posted, and I know that this only bans specific semi-automatic weapons, and I know that a semi-automatic weapon ≠ a machine gun. I know that a semi-automatic weapon fires every time you pull the trigger. I’m not stupid. Please stop.
2. He wants to limit ammunition magazines to ten rounds. Yes. This is an arbitrary number. Yes, I’m aware that gunmen could just bring in more rounds and be fine and keep shooting. So if it’s not going to stop a school or theater shooter, and they could be fine and continue, why do you care? If they can reload, so can you. It’s not a big deal. So chillax.
3. Get Armor-piercing rounds off the streets. The only way I can see this mattering is if citizens need armor-piercing rounds for some reason. Like to take down the government, for example. In which case, the government could just drop a bomb or launch a missile at them. Or just send in the ATF. >.<
4. If any government agency (like the police) takes away your guns, they would have to run a background check on you. Wait, no. This shouldn’t bother the law-abiding gun owners of America. Only the people who shouldn’t have them in the first place.
5. No more free passes on guns over fifty years old. Yes, it’s weird. Anybody remember the machine guns from the original Call of Duty and how much damage they did? Yeah, your neighbor can now buy one of those, and the ATF can’t do anything about it. That doesn’t seem right to me. Here’s a list of guns the ATF has to let you have. It includes this gun, which my gaming friends may recognize.
6. Let the CDC research gun violence. This seems very, very odd. There’s this creepy assumption that if we let the CDC do research on how guns impact violence, it’ll sway public opinion away from responsible gun ownership. I don’t like it when people don’t want to let other people research things. That makes me nervous.
Obama’s plan is also filled with all sorts of responsible and non-controversial ideas, like grants for law enforcement, school security, making sure that everyone has to get a background check to buy a gun, and appointing a director for the ATF.
So what have we learned?
- Americans have a lot of guns.
- That doesn’t make us the country with the most gun homicides in the world, but it puts us in the top 30.
- Ladders and cars are seriously dangerous, but not as dangerous as suicide, and none of those are nearly as dangerous as cancer, heart disease, and that mysterious “Other” category.
- Your friends all know the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons, so you can stop with the videos.
- Kids really aren’t all that likely to get shot in the US. At all.
- The only crime Piers Morgan is worried about is murder.
- Guns are made for killing stuff.
- The “Gun Rights” provided us by the second amendment really aren’t going to be enough to allow us to take down the government.
- Barack Obama’s plan isn’t really that evil after all.
Now go out there and spread intelligence!