8,775 Firearm Murders a Year in US, Equiv. of 290 in UK

Updated. 2013 Reprint edn.

Number of Murders, United States, 2010: 12,996

Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775

Number of Murders, Britain, 2011*: 638
(Since Britain’s population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 3,095 US murders)

Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2011*: 58
(equivalent to 290 US murders)

Number of Murders by crossbow in Britain, 2011*: 2 (equivalent to 10 US murders).

For more on murder by firearms in Britain, see the BBC.

The international comparisons show conclusively that fewer gun owners among civilians per capita produce not only fewer murders by firearm, but fewer murders per capita over all.


h/t Christopher Majka

In the case of Britain, firearms murders are 30 times fewer than in the US per capita. [Don't bother with flawed citations of Switzerland or Israel, where most citizens are the equivalent of military reservists.]

Do hunters really need semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapons? Is that how they roll in deer season? The US public doesn’t think so.

*British crime statistics are September to September, so 2011 is actually 2010-2011.

37 Responses

    • @ Fed Up – Yes, it is disgusting but so is the Pentagon killing people by remote control or whatever Blackwater is now called killing people as they walk down a street. In any event, the same video games and movies are available in Britain. The real reason why so many Americans kill each other is simple: We have an unholy obsession with guns, and a Supreme Court that did not understand 18th Century grammar and punctuation rules when it ruled on a gun control case in the 21st Century. The Founders would be appalled.

    • If guns don’t kill people, then I’m pretty goddam sure movies and video games don’t. People in numerous other countries watch the exact same movies and play the exact same video games and still have far fewer gun homicides per capita than the US.

  1. Juan, your data for public support for an assault weapons ban is outdated. At this time, a small majority supports the freedom to own such weapons, even after sandy hook:

    link to politico.com

  2. Also, if the government insists that the continental United States is a warzone (as defined in the 2012 NDAA), a citizen could easily make the case that it is in their best interest to own military style weapons. The government and proponents of the ban cannot have it both ways.

  3. The oft-cited Switzerland also has a lower gun ownership rate than the Unite States with a correspondingly lower crime rate.

    • Besides that, and I think this is really significant, no Swiss reservist would ever think of using his government-issued assault rifle against his fellow citizens. American gun nuts – from white “patriots” to black gangsters – think about it all the time, even wish for it. That sounds like a state of war, not a society.

      • I won’t contest the fact that US is a more violent society than Switzerland but we have got our problems too with assault riffles; this is the worst case and probably the worst in the EU too :
        link to en.wikipedia.org
        14 parliament and executive members were killed by a mad gunner breaking into the parliament hall during a session of the state’s parliament back in 2001. He felt he was persecuted and committed suicide after the deed.

  4. Different culture, different customs, different society. Apples and oranges. Michael Moore covered this ground pretty well in ‘Bowling for Columbine’.

    Removing firearms is the simple, easy solution to the problem. Just like removing violence from the comics would solve juvenile deliquency, and removing alcohol would end the evils of inebriation. There are far too many examples of the ‘simple solution’ failing to actually do anything about the initial problem, and people insisting on maintaining those solutions despite that failure.

  5. Your graph doesn’t tell which observation period is considered. For less populated countries, like Sweden, Switzerland or Israel, you need to consider a much longer period than one year if you want to make a statistic over such rare events as murders by firearms, with respect to th population. The numbers can swing dramatically from one year to the next.

    That said, in Switzerland our gun culture isn’t very different than in the US. About two years ago : Just over 56 per cent of Swiss voters threw out a proposal to ban army-issue firearms from the home and set up a central arms register in a bid to curb gun violence. More here : link to swissinfo.ch
    Switzerland has an unusually high suiccide rate compared to other European countries : if I remember correctly, it is only by passed by the Japanese. This is the most used argument by those who wants to limit firearms.Transactions between individuals are completely free and uncontrolled and there is no central register of persons owning a firearm. Automatic guns used in the army are standing in any soldiers home during all the year, even when they are off duty, etc..
    The debate resurfaced again last week after a mad gunman left three dead women and two wounded men in a very small alpine village : link to swissinfo.ch

    • See my comment on Swiss culture above. Believe it or not, Christiane, millions of Americans are constantly thinking about and training for the use of guns against other Americans – not foreign invaders. There are two different media empires – the white gun media and gangsta rap – that celebrate the idea of destroying ones’ enemies. It’s not a fantasy for Americans the way it is for Europeans, it’s right there in the streets.

  6. Juan,

    If that graph is meant to show a correlation between gun ownership and murders by handgun, then please make scatterplot and provide the correlation statistics (assuming countries as replicates). The lines connecting the countries make no sense as this is not some time series. As it is, it does not show anything “conclusively”.

  7. I’ve read the numbers from your graph and plotted them as I suggested. As I suspected, it shows simply that the US is an outlier in both variables, and if we take out the US there is no correlation at all. That doesn’t mean that there is no correlation (perhaps the US is the importnat true pice of information), but it is driven entirely by one data point and there are some issues with attributing causality.

    A correlation would make sense, and the data is constrained by the logic that no guns must mean no gun deaths handgun or otherwise, but your graph above does not illustrate what you contend.

  8. Movies, TV, computer games glorify violence sure. but also the US and UK are both cheerleaders for bombing the crap out of other countries and ignoring the human cost of it. I think there’s bound to be an influence on the population…

  9. According to google there are over 20,000 non fatal gunshot injuries in the US each year. If it were not for the skilled actions of medical personnel in the USA the murder rate in the U$A would probably be the highest in the world. I wager that most people who get shot in Brazil or Nigeria die. Not so in the USA.

    • My M.D. friend worked for a while in the Los Angeles country General Hospital emergency department; He told me that the medical staff working there were extremely capable, and skilled well above the norm, in the treatment of gunshot wounds; Just as you have written.

  10. MSNBC reported on Martin Basher’s program that on average GUNS in the USA kill 87 people every day.

    With this average statistics of 87 per day, it comes to 87X365= 31,755 each year.

    Martin Bashir further said that in 2 years GUNS in the USA kill more people than total number of Americans killed during 10-year long war in Vietnam.

    • That is counting suicides. Maybe a little problematic, since people determined to commit suicide do have other options.

      • Many suicidal acts people commit are half-hearted. It is easy to give up halfway through the pile of pills, or change your mind and open the door of the garage in which you’re running your car.

        Pulling the trigger of a gun, on the other hand, is a much more definitive proposition. The use of a firearm turns many “attempted suicides” into actual suicides.

  11. Yeah, Swimmer, and Hollywood/Advertising, etc. glorify sex, but it does not actually lead me to getting laid… Got any more non-sequiturs?

  12. For deer hunting a single shot rifle is the best way to go. Shooting at a running deer is dangerous and unlikely to be successful. And also is far far more likely to wound an animal.

    Real sportsman wait until they get a good shot and use one round to bring the animal down. (Lung shot)

    And in Ohio, where only shotguns can be used, the law requires you to use a gun capable of holding only 3 shots.

  13. Suicide by gun requires a whole lot less – for want of a better word – ‘courage’ than any other option. Just pull that trigger: job done.

    An awful lot of those US gun suicides would be alive in any other country, if only on the basis they changed their mind before building that courage.

    • We had a teenage suicide in my neighborhood a few months ago.

      Mom and teenage son got into an argument. Son grabbed shotgun and shot himself.

      I think that young man would be alive today had that gun not been in that house.

      And I will never forget the Mom writhing on the ground and screaming as I came out of my house to see what the ruckus was. Simply awful.

  14. Everyone I know with a gun has it primarily for self-defense.
    Arguing in terms of hunting or target practice at a range misses the point.
    Sure, they hunt and practice, but the motivation is fear, not sport.

    FWIW, there have been two home invasions in Colorado Springs (pop. ~ 500K) this past week with shots fired.
    I one case, a homeowner drove off his attackers, who ended up in the ER.
    In the other, the invaders were armed and the victims weren’t.

    • Most instances where homeowners draw a gun on criminals end badly for the homeowners.

      • That’s because most home invaders are armed with guns and are experienced criminals or at least have no qualms about killing others. But, regardless, I would rather have a fighting chance. Do you suggest just hiding under a bed while waiting 15-20 minutes for the police? It goes badly for most people stranded in the ocean but it does slightly help if you have a life jacket

        • Nobody is arguing for taking away your pistol or shotgun. You don’t need a semi-automatic with a hundred bullet drum for home security.

          But, if that is what you are worried about, it would be better to get a security system installed; most burglars won’t risk them.

    • Having a gun around makes people less safe. And the 31,000 dead people a year who were around guns kinda prove it.

      If I was afraid I’d get a dog. Much more effective.

      Oh, and I’ve got guns. Safely locked up. Used to hunt some 15 years ago.

      • I agree that it is strange and alarming that civilians have semi-automatics; however, many of the people with these types of guns are ex-military, copr or former cops, private government contractors, wealthy people and history channel type gun enthusiasts who like to shot up old cars in the desert.

        Now, my only worry is this: How do we propose gathering up all these military guns? There will be a lot of upset ex-cops. ex-marines, ex government type people.

        And one more thing: regular hand pistols account for the vast majaority of murders and crimes in this county. semi-auto guns are a small percentage.

        • Ex Cops Ex Marines Ex Government types are taught to obey the law. When the order comes they will turn their guns in without any question. They will help round up all the other assault rifles as well.

  15. Guns permit and enhance action that’s faster than the speed of thought.

    Like that kid JHARP mentions – big argument, hot tempers, a shotgun is within reach – BOOM. (Whaddaya think of THAT, Mom?) There are fewer suicides using methods that require more time and planning, and take longer to act, than just grabbing the convenient, EZ-to-reach, not to mention LOADED, firearm.

    Ditto for other conditions of impaired judgement: drunkenness, anger, fear, jealousy – the Quick&E-Z gun solution beats out considered thought, maturity, and working through the consequences of taking this particular lethal action. Just draw and squeeze. Repeat until problem is solved, just like in the movies. (That’s why those big magazines and semi-automatic fire are so desired…)

    While the big killings get the most news, there are plenty of onesie and twosie shootings going on CONSTANTLY. Most appear to be the result of impaired judgement plus guns. These people aren’t wackos. They’re not alkies or druggies. Just regular folks having a bad day – and with the aid of Mr. Berretta or Mr. Smith&Wesson or whatever, making it indescribably worse.

    • Yes, this is exactly what we need to discuss. Not the media spectaculars or the gun lobby paranoia. The NRA tries a Manichean division of America into two races, the Good Americans and the Criminal Race. Then all the undeniable problems with guns are the fault of the Criminal Race forcing us Good Americans to escalate to save our society. But in fact we’re all potentially killers because we’re idiots with poor impulse control, and the corporations train us to be that way because it makes us better consumers. To point this out is to say that even white, Christian, property-owning Americans are such utter fools that they can’t be trusted not to shoot each other, cheat on their wives, molest their daughters, download kiddie porn, snort cocaine, etc, etc, etc.

      You can see the radical danger of that kind of realization.

  16. I had (past tense) a friend who was fascinated with guns – most boys were but most of us grew out of it – he emigrated eventually from Australia to Texas, partly because he could own guns easily. While he was there he got married. He changed companies after quite a few years but lost his job soon after the change and couldn’t get his old job back. He got drunk (not an uncommon event for him) and shot himself – leaving his wife to pick up the pieces. Is this exporting violence from the US or importing victims? I’m not sure.

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