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United Nations data show America has high gun ownership, but a low murder rate

Posted: February 16, 2013 at 9:35 am   /   by

Take a look at the maps below. They tell a striking tale.

The first map shows that the United States leads the world in gun ownership per capita. The second map shows the United States occupying the lowest band of homicides per capita. Right off the bat, that goes against the grain of the narrative that our prevalence of gun ownership is somehow causing us to have a higher murder rate. If there were a correlation, we would see it on this map. Certainly there are other factors at work, but if thre were truly a correlation, then wouldn’t the nation with the highest rate of gun ownership at least be out of the green range and into the next highest band?

Now expand your survey. Go country by country. You’ll note that a lot of countries with a very low rate of legal gun ownership are incredibly violent, murderous places. You’ll also notice that many of the countries with higher rates of gun ownership have lower rates of homicide. The correlation is not 100%, but there is more correlation with more gun ownership = fewer homicides and less gun ownership = more homicides than the reverse.

Within each band of homicide rates, there is, of course, a range. The United States, for example, has a higher murder rate than the U.K., tho8ugh both are in the green band on this map. But a few crucial points on that . . .

1) The U.K. also had a lower murder rate than the U.S. back when they had no gun control at all.

2) The U.K. has a much higher violent crime rate.

3) The U.K. has a much higher rate of knife murders and home invasions

4) The murder rate of the U.S. is significantly influenced by the gang-crime murder rate.

This last point must be amplified. If you pull out gang- and inner city-related murder out of the equation, the United States’ murder rate is much, much lower. The problem of inner city slaughter is a tragedy that must be solved, but it is also a very particular issue that does not accurately describe life in the United States outside of that context.

Also note that “homicide” does not equal “murder.” There are numerous instances of self-defense homicides, accidental homicides, etc. every year, meaning that the actual murder rate is even lower.

Thus, when you hear a gun control advocate trying to portray the United States as a violent place, set ’em straight.




Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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United Nations data show America has high gun ownership, but a low murder rate