Gun Ownership Around the World

Americans are considered exceptionally fond of guns; the United States has the highest rate of gun ownership — both generally and per capita — by a huge margin, and is one of only three countries in the world, along with Guatemala and Mexico, to enshrine a right to guns in its founding document (the latter two were directly inspired by the American example).

But just how unusual is the U.S. in this regard? Here are some interesting and illuminating visual data courtesy of indy100which draws on research from he Washington Post:

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Here’s a breakdown of Europe specifically, which most would regard as especially gun-shy:

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Switzerland’s famously liberal gun laws, which have more in common with the U.S. than most of its neighbors, owes mostly to the militia system of its army, whereby conscripts regularly train with, maintain, and keep privately their assigned weapons and equipment (though after 2007 this no longer includes ammo).

The rest of (relatively) gun-friendly Europe, including Finland, Serbia, and most of Scandinavia, have their firearm enthusiasm rooted mostly in cultural practices such as recreational hunting and sports shooting. Unlike Switzerland and the U.S., guns are not tied up with political identity and/or security concerns.

More analysis from indy100:

The U.S. rates top for ownership per 100 people, at 88.8 guns per 100 people. However, recent data puts the number even higher, at an incredible 112 per 100 people.

The U.S. also — by far — has the most guns in total (270 million), nearly six times ahead of second place India at 46 million.

Brazil has the most total homicides by guns, 34,678 a year. The U.S. comes in fifth with 9,960 homicides by gun a year, behind Colombia (12,539), Mexico (11,309), and Venezuela (11,115).

In short, Americans are far and above the most enthusiastic gun owners, in both relative and absolute terms. They are also near the top in terms of gun homicides (and first among developed democracies), but whether that ties into the sheer abundance of guns is a passionate and polarized debate that I presently do not have the time (nor inclination) to get into.

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