We’re Number One! We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

It seems that the United States has 90 guns for every 100 people, making it the most heavily armed civilian population in the world!

Yemen comes in at second place, with a pitiful 61 guns for every 100 people. Pikers!

Of course, the statistics are rather misleading. Most of the people involved in the shooting sports here in the United States have more than one gun, which skews things a bit. I think this is an indication of wealth, since people here can afford to buy more than one of these really expensive precision instruments, just as they can afford to take part in more than one firearm related sport.

The director of the Small Arms Survey said as much himself.

“Weapons ownership may be correlated with rising levels of wealth, and that means we need to think about future demand in parts of the world where economic growth is giving people larger disposable income,”

Anyway, I think it is just great that the United States leads the world yet again.

(Hat tip to Dave of The Nix Guy fame for giving us a heads up to the article. I also cross posted this essay over at Hell in a Handbasket.)

16 thoughts on “We’re Number One! We’re Number One! We’re Number One!”

  1. ny stats on ranking by nation of deaths by guns?

    Then Iraq or Afghanistan would be at the top.

    It is a meaningless exercise to rank countries by gun deaths. What would be more useful is to see how countries stack up so far as the per capita crime rate is concerned.

    According to this page, the United States comes in at #24 so far as murder rates are concerned.

    Is the data on that last page accurate? I dunno, but it seems to match up.

    So the murder rate is higher in at least 23 other countries with lower levels of gun ownership, and there are more murders in many countries that have enacted draconian gun control laws. It would appear that the facts support the conclusion that murder rates are not dependent on how many guns average civilians own.

    But what about crime? Guns are used to commit less serious crimes more often than they are used to kill someone. Maybe the criminals in the United States are just smart enough to use their guns for financial gain while still being careful to avoid killing the golden goose.

    Unfortunately for those who want to ban private firearm ownership, the data doesn’t support that conclusion, either.

    So there you go. Gun control doesn’t reduce crime, and greater restrictions on gun ownership could very well embolden criminals.


  2. One often overlooked factor: Guns do not wear out quickly and that basic technology for most firearms has not changed in nearly a century. As a result, families accumulate guns over the generations. I own three guns but have never actually bought a gun. Most families with a rural American background can tell the same story. Each generation buys a gun or two and after a century that adds up.

    I know from family stories that inherited guns once served as a form of intergenerational wealth transfer, although it had little to do with the value of the gun. Well into the 60’s, young newlyweds often found themselves short on cash and hunting for food served as a big boost to their effective income, especially in the fall. Some young couples ate venison four months out of the year.

  3. david stiles,

    [A]ny stats on ranking by nation of deaths by guns?

    I don’t have them at my finger tips but I do know that America has the lowest rate of home invasion crimes (crimes committed while a household member is at home) of any developed country.

  4. Nice stat, but I don’t know how they can really come up with 90 guns per 100 people. I own five handguns, three rifles and a shotgun making an average of two plus guns per person in my house (that includes the kids!). One person I know owns over one hundred guns – he is a collector.

    The article says 875m known firearms and that there are 275m in the US – I would like to see how they came up with these numbers. Wild guesses I would imagine. But great news as always that we own guns here and lots of them.

  5. IMO, the fact that Reuters continues to publish press releases from agenda-driven groups as news is what deserves the most publicity in this case.

  6. Given that Yemen is as poor as dirt and that Yemenite women are not allowed to dress themselves or go outside, their 61 is far more impressive than the US number.

  7. Running the numbers we see that the US has about 12,000 gun homicides a year. With 270 million guns in circulation, that means that any particular gun has a 0.00044% (4.4×10[-3]) chance of being used to kill a human being in any given year. Assuming an operational lifetime of 50 years, each gun has only a 0.2% chance of ever killing a human being.

    That makes guns one of the safest technologies we have. Much safer than cars, swimming pools, bathtubs, bicycles etc. Its difficult to make the argument that guns are being misused.

  8. It is people rather than inanimate objects who are safe or unsafe. By now anyone who is intellectually serious and honest realizes that simple international comparisons of crime rates and gun ownership provide little real information and often obscure more than they reveal. Members of different ethnic and geographical groups within the same country may have widely different rates of criminal behavior (e.g., Vermont vs. Louisiana); and members of the same ethnic group may have similar rates of criminal behavior across different countries (e.g., Japanese vs. Japanese-Americans). In our society and elsewhere in the West, and probably universally, violent crimes regardless of geographical location or the ethnicity of the perpetrator(s) are committed by aberrant individuals who are highly atypical of gun owners generally. The people making “too many guns” arguments are thus either naive or (as in the case of the people who produced the report promoted by Reuters) have a social-control agenda that deserves much more scrutiny than do any gun statistics. Of course the gun stats are suspect, but it’s most important to ask the disarmers why they are pushing a political agenda that generally favors giving power to unaccountable transnational bureaucracies at the expense of democratic electorates.

  9. Well said Jonathan. As a resident of Vermont (which holds to most lax gun laws and yet the second lowest murder rate in the nation behind North Dakota) I’ve always gotten a chuckle out of those that would breath heavy and espouse guns as a driving factor of crime. Even Michael Moore realized that the existance of guns in a society was not a catalyst for violence (he found “fear” to be the cause and suggested us fearful Americans therefore had no business owning guns.)

  10. Just today I was out in the desert in New Mexico, and I thought to myself ‘I would really have fun with a rifle out here’. So I’m going to buy a Ruger 10/22 tomorrow, maybe at Wal-Mart if they have a nice model in stock. I would have to keep it in my truck so it doesn’t get stolen from the motel room here in Carlsbad, but what the hell. I’ll use it to maim and kill aluminum cans.

  11. What these statistics also don’t reflect is ourt immigrant status. We collect some of the best and brightest from all over the world, yes, but we also collect a lot of dregs looking for freedom to take advantage of other people in a place where they are not known quantities. Thus, we have higher crime rates a priori than homogenous societies such as Denmark (although that is changing with their immigration pattern – they never thought to study us to see what the pitfalls might be).

    Despite both higher gun ownership and what I might call a higher disposition to crime and violence among our underclass, we still come out 24th in murder rates.

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