Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 762, March 16, 2014

Socialism kills—not just individuals but whole civilizations.

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Guns and Deaths, a Non-US Problem
by C.D. Michel

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

"America has the highest death by guns rate per capita in the world.....fact."

That comment—left on a YouTube video—shows the ignorance of people not in America, and those in the Oval Office or the California state legislature. It is a persistent talking point of gun ban activists, and is adopted as fact by people predisposed to believe that (as the same fellow continued) "America is a screwed up society that has an unhealthy obsession with all things violent."

As a modern Abe Lincoln might warn: "Don't believe everything you read on the internet."

Substantial research exists to show that America not a trigger happy society, and that America is downright peaceful compared to other countries, both industrialized and non-industrialized.

I noted previously that Honduras is the gun crime capital of the world, with a firearm homicide rate 23 times higher than the United States. In their famous Harvard Journal of Law paper, Don Kates and Gary Mauser detailed how firearm availability never correlates with gun deaths. Real data simply doesn't support the alleged "fact" our YouTube troll stated.

Chart 1 The question that comes immediately to mind is "Where is the most gun violence in the world?" Over at the Gun Facts website they have a separate chapter devoted to guns and violence in other countries, and one of the more interesting images explaining it all. Off on the left of the chart is the United States, which indeed has the largest number of privately owned firearms anywhere (the red line is what frightens uneducated people, which includes a few elected officials). The blue columns are the firearm homicide rates for each country.

Contrary to propagandists, the gun homicide rate in the United States is comparatively meager by international standards.

Taking the cited crime data (compiled from United Nations tallies), the international average firearm homicide rate is 4.9 deaths per 100,000 people. But in the United States it's only 2.9, or about 40% lower than the rest of the world.

Not every hyper violent country is of third world status. Venezuela is a major oil exporter and an utter dictatorship, but ranks #3. Belize, a tropical paradise and former British outpost is #9. The emancipated South Africa comes in at #12 and the ever pleasant Bahamas ranks #15.

The United States is #28. But even that is misleading given America's well-below-average firearm homicide rate, and one that would be pared further if inner city gangs and drug dealers were swept away.

That latter part partially is in play. Starting in the early 1990s, states across the country enacted laws to incarcerate repeat violent offenders (three-strike laws) and especially armed criminals (10-20-Life), primarily gangsters. The results have been a dramatic reduction in firearm homicides. Taking thugs out of urban centers has saved many, many lives. But the job remains incomplete and America's gun homicide rates—which are already low by international averages—could be lower still.

"America has the highest death by guns rate per capita in the world.... fact." Not.

Chart 2 Here are the actual facts backed by actual data:

  • The United States has a firearm homicide rate nearly 50% lower than the world-wide average.

  • The overwhelming number of U.S. firearm homicides come from inner-city gang/drug intersections.

  • Most of these homicides are committed by repeat offenders.

  • Laws designed to take these thugs off the streets have proven to be effective.

It's time for the rest of the world to recognize that we got it largely right—freedom plus pursuit of predators makes a safer society.

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