There is a common misconception that the United States of America is an extremely violent country. Many contribute this to the fact the US holds the title of having the highest number of firearms per capita. It is reported that the civilian firearm ownership rate is somewhere around 89 guns per 100 residents. Canada’s firearms ownership rate is reported to hover closer to 31.
As one would expect, the US suffers from the highest rate of gun related homicide of all developed countries. Makes sense. I would also expect to see the highest number of traffic fatalities in those countries with the highest number of cars since it’s kinda hard to get killed in a car crash if you live in Togo where there are only 2 cars per 1,000 people.
Comparing gun deaths between two countries with dissimilar gun ownership rates is comparing apples to oranges if you’re trying to determine how safe a country is.
I think a better indication of determining how safe a country is would be to look at its overall violent crime rate. After all, an assault is an assault and a death is a death no matter what tool was used to implement it. Since the US has the highest number of guns, many assume that its total violent crime rate must be highest as well. Let’s a have a look at the real numbers for the year 2012 and see if this is true.
Criminally Violent Crimes
In 2012, the US had a reported total of 1.1 million criminally violent incidents. The total population of the US in 2012 was just under 313 million. This gives us a total violent crime rate of just less than 369 per 100,000 people. (total incidents divided by total population times 100,000; actual numbers used in calculation, not rounded figures given above; actual figures and sources listed at bottom of post)
(Screenshot from the FBI website)
In that same year, Canada suffered less than half of the total criminally violent incidents at just over 415 thousand. But when you take into account that Canada has just over ten percent of the US total population, the numbers take a turn for the worse. When the same formula used to determine the the total violent crime rate of the US is applied to Canada’s figures, it reveals that Canada experiences just under 1,200 criminally violent incidents per 100,000.
That’s more than three times the rate of the United States!
(Screenshot from the StatsCan website)
(It’s been pointed out to me that some of the numbers I used were incomplete. I’m therefore pulling that info until I can verify it. Thanks for the heads up SG.)
The numbers don’t lie, at least not when they’re presented without bias. All these stats were taken from reputable government reports and formulas were applied equally. See below for yourself if you wish to do the math to ensure that I’m not twisting the numbers in any way.
While we can’t prove that more guns equals less crime, we can certainly show that more guns does not equal more crime. Maybe the fact that more and more civilians are arming themselves is making the criminals think twice before attacking. Maybe the idea of legally owning guns gives people a heightened sense of responsibility which in turn leads to second thoughts before committing violent acts. Maybe it’s none of the above and it’s just a happy coincidence. Either way, the stats appear to show that strict gun control is not the answer to violent crime.
Raw Data and Sources
Violent crimes reported:
415,119 or 1194.44 per 100,000
United States of America
Violent crimes reported:
1,154,006 or 368.95 per 100,000