8,124 Murders by Firearm in US vs. 29 (144 equiv.) in UK

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –


The United States continues to be peculiar in handing out powerful magazine-fed firearms to almost anyone who wants one and not requiring background checks on private purchases even if these are made at gun shows. 80% of civilian-owned firearms world-wide are in the US, and only Yemen vaguely competes with us for rates of firearm ownership; Yemen is a violent mess with Shiite insurgencies, al-Qaeda taking over cities from time to time, tribal feuding, southern separatism and US drone strikes. And even it has fewer guns per person than the USA.

It has gotten to the point where the increasing epidemic of mass shootings now threatens law enforcement, with the deaths of 5 policemen in Dallas at the hands of an unhinged Black ultra-nationalist.

The US is downright weird compared to civilized Western Europe or Australia (which enacted gun control after a mass shooting in 1996 and there have been no further such incidents).

In 2013-2014 (the twelve months beginning in March), there were 29 fatalities from gun-related crimes in England and Wales (equivalent to 144 because UK is smaller than US).

Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2014: 8124

Percentage of all Murders that were committed by firearms in US: 68%

Suicides in US 2013: 41,149

Gun Suicides in US, 2013: 21,175

Percentage of all murders in England and Wales that were committed by firearm: 5.4 percent.

Number of suicides in England and Wales, 2011: 4871 (equivalent to about 25,818 in US or 31% lower)

Number of suicides by firearam in England and Wales, 2011: 84

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

The US has the highest gun ownership in the world and the highest murder rate in the developed world.

It seems pretty clear, as well, that many US suicides would not occur if firearms were not omnipresent.

There is some correlation between high rates of gun ownership and high rates of violent crime in general, globally (and also if you compare state by state inside the US):

h/t Christopher Majka

In the case of Britain, firearms murders are 53 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.

PS this is a revised version of an older column; if they keep refusing to legislate rationally and go on causing these massacres, I can keep writing a similar column.


Related video:

AFP: “Guns in the US”

11 Responses

  1. We may be at the crisis point, where the authorities must decide whether to negotiate with our urban population or enter a state of permanent military occupation. They know they can’t afford to keep paying blood money in lawsuits by the families of those slain by the police. But the police unions and Republicans will demand war.

    I think we need to consider a clean sheet in governance. The cities need to be restructured around greater participation in democracy. That must start with the police forces. We need forces that answer to the neighborhoods they threaten, not to the property-owning elite who control the major businesses. Since surveillance technology can no longer be banned with so much of it available to the public, the public must become part of the act of surveillance; what is to be done with the data collected must be discussed and adjudicated in public. Neighborhoods must be rewarded for policing themselves. Police can no longer reward themselves by seizing property of the convicted, or even the accused. The neighborhood should get all the money confiscated from the gangs it turned in to the law. And the emphasis of police should be deterring the ordinary everyday killings, mostly of people by their own friends and relatives, not spending disproportionate resources on media-hot anomalies like serial killers and terrorists.

  2. As you will be aware professor, British people are not allowed to own guns save in special circumstances. The only people allowed guns over here are farmers and people who shoot game birds. Even then they are only allowed a basic shot gun and licencing is very strict. Perhaps more importantly, the main police force doesn’t carry guns either and those that do are mainly at airports or other very sensitive areas. There are armed police available in all police force areas but they are only called out for some kind of armed siege or other. If the public aren’t armed then there is no reason for the police to be armed. In the UK in rural areas its a rare sight to see a policeman on foot and police in patrol cars are few and far between. Its curios that the relationship between the state and the people over here is so benign, especially as historically we are a a nation of war mongers and thugs. In fact we still are, but we do our killing of the human race in other people’s countries. The USA has always had that ‘wild West’ attitude to life so guns and their use is in the American psyche.

  3. Don’t bother offering the statistics. We live in a fact-free zone where the evidence just doesn’t matter in this debate. Every – and I mean EVERY – time pro-regulation political leaders try to address the gun epidemic, the NRA flexes its mighty muscles and shuts down the debate. Is there any way this is going to change? I’m skeptical but if we can mobilize a majority of states, perhaps we have an outside chance of modifying the Constitution. That’s obviously a long shot. More likely, we’ll continue to be stuck with this stale debate and gun violence will continue. And with each paroxysm of death, the usual conservative “leaders” will offer to pray for the victims and their families. Yet again.

  4. To enact any kind of legislation, we Americans will require a body of representatives who will work in the American people’s interest. Where are you going to find that body of devoted individuals? Maybe, pass a law to improve campaign finance reform, and then see if a reasonable gun control law may follow. Either do away with the kind of lobbying they do in DC, or get the American people their own huge lobby who will fight for their interest.

    • Agreed however we need a U.S.S.C. who will pass national redistricting formulas(laws) to prevent political gerrymandering. Another idea would be to require tax returns for every elected federal official every six months for all income and gifts of any type over $10.00

  5. According to 2nd Amendment paranoids, dimwitted pandering politicians and the NRA, the only solution to the current widespread U.S. slaughter by firearms is MORE GUNS!

    • According to the NRA when someone starts shooting there need to be people in the target area with guns to respond to the shooter. Didn’t quite work out that way with dozens of armed police in Dallas, did it?

      • it’s a very good thing the NRA concept of gun control didn’t happen that night in Dallas. The carnage would have been much worse.

        Events like this always happen in Texas. JFK, UT Austin beltower sniper., both Waco shoot-outs, Ft Bliss terrorist shooting and now this. Media -clown Trump’s wall should go around Texas. To protect SANE Americans from the state which repeatedly proves itself unworthy of U.S. statehood.

  6. Hi,

    The wars that America is fighting abroad shall come back home, America plotted, God planned.

    How many innocents lives are being taking by American troops abroad yearly? bit it by bombs,guns or drones?

    Violence begets violence.

  7. I am retired, have lived in several countries (NOT the USA) and have practically never in my life even seen a gun, except for a few farmers and hunters who keep their weapons responsibly and do not wander the streets ready to shoot anyone they disagree with.

  8. This is the core of the problem with guns in America. 1. The proliferation is beyond incomprehensible measure and needs. 2. There are thousands of people with homicidal tendencies with access to the guns they need to commit any crime they desire. 3. Until people with homicidal tendencies are prevented from access to guns, the carnage will continue.
    So the challenge for bringing an end to this obscene aspect of life and death in America is 1. Get control of guns so that people with homicidal tendencies can’t get access to them, OR, 2. Identify people with homicidal tendencies and block them from acquiring guns.

Comments are closed.