Comparing murder rates and gun ownership across countries

31 Mar , 2014  

Charles Blow in the New York Times last year made the very common argument: “America has the highest gun homicide rate, the highest number of guns per capita . . . .”  In another story, the New York Times quotes researcher David Hemenway as claiming: “Generally, if you live in a civilized society, more guns mean more death.”  CNN’s Piers Morgan believes: “America has the worst incidents of gun murders of any of what they call the civilized world.”  Bloomberg’s Businessweek also made similar claims this spring.  The one common feature for these claims is that they rely on the Small Arms Survey.

So how do homicide rates compare across countries? (Click on figures to make them larger.  It is necessary to greatly enlarge the picture to read the names of individual countries. UNODC data.  Here it is as an Excel file.)

Homicide rates across all countries

Much of the debate is focused on gun ownership rate data for 109 countries from the Small Arms Survey. There are real problems with this survey. For example, the rates of gun ownership for Israel (7 per 100 people) and Switzerland (supposedly 47 guns per 100 people) .  Anyone who has ever been to Israel knowns that this estimate is ridiculously low.  Indeed, over time about 12 to 15 percent of the adult Jewish population in Israel is allowed to carry handguns in public.

The problem with this survey excludes weapons that are technically owned by the government. The vast majority of guns in Israel are technically owned by the government, but if people have possession of guns in their homes for decades, the issue should be that public possession, not who technically owned the guns.  Similarly, at that time of the Small Arms Survey, all able bodied Swiss males between the age of 18 and 42 kept their military weapons in their homes. After age 42, they could apply for permission to continue to keep their military weapons. Israeli guns are also excluded for the same reason.

The Small Arms Survey claims that the United States has by far the highest level of gun ownership, with 88.8 guns per 100 people. Both Israel and Switzerland probably have much higher gun ownership rates, but including them the way the Small Arms Survey does biases the results to The US gun ownership is so high compared to other countries that it drives any regression results.

There are also other problems with the survey. For example, a much better measure of gun ownership would be the percentage of the population owning guns, and not the number of guns per 100 people as used by the Small Arms Survey. Presumably the issue is whether people have access to guns, not the number of guns greater than one that an individual has access to.

Looking at all countries for which the Small Arms Survey measured gun ownership, and using the Small Arms Survey data the way that it measures gun ownership, implies that more guns equals fewer homicides.
Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at Monday, March 31, 3.17 AM

Usually only a small set of countries are used in any comparison, typically limited to so-called “civilized,” as Hemenway or Morgan calls them, or “developed” countries. It isn’t clear what is meant by “civilized” countries, so what can Americans learn from these other “developed” nations? Using the developed nations as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), developed countries in fact show that more gun ownership as measured by the Small Arms Survey is associated with fewer homicides.  First, this is how homicide rates vary across developed countries.

Homicide Rates for Developed Countries OECD 2011 or latest year


The relationship between homicide rates and the supposed measure of gun ownership provided the Small Arms Survey shows that even with their obviously biased measure of gun ownership, more guns ownership is associated with fewer homicides, though the relationship is not statistically significant.

OECD and Small Arms Survey
Because the US is claimed to be such an outlier, it makes the relationship between gun ownership and homicides less negative than it actually is. (Regressions fit the regression line to “minimize the sum of the squared errors” so you can see how much extra weight one extreme value is given.)  But so what can Americans learn from these other “developed” nations?

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Yet, even though the cross-country data implies that more guns equals fewer homicides, this type of comparison isn’t very convincing. There is a real problem in using cross-sectional data. Suppose for the sake of argument that high-crime countries are the ones that most frequently adopt the most stringent gun control laws. What if gun control actually lowered crime, but not by enough to reduce rates to the same low levels prevailing in the majority of countries that did not adopt the laws. Looking across countries, it would then falsely appear that stricter gun control resulted in higher crime. Economists refer to this as an “endogeniety” problem. The adoption of the policy is a reaction to other events (that is, “endogenous”), in this case crime. To resolve this, one must examine how the high-crime areas that chose to adopt the controls changed over time —not only relative to their own past levels but also relative to areas that did not institute such controls. Below is part of a long discussion in The Bias Against Guns, Chp. 5 (More Guns, Less Crime also has a long discussion in Chp. 2).

Unfortunately, many contemporary discussions rely on misinterpretations of cross-sectional data. The New York Times recently conducted a cross-sectional study of murder rates in states with and without the death penalty, and found that “Indeed, 10 of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the national average, Federal Bureau of Investigation data shows, while half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average” (Raymond Bonner and Ford Fessenden, “States With No Death Penalty Share Lower Homicide Rates,” New York Times, September 22, 2000, p. A1.). However, they erroneously concluded that the death penalty did not deter murder. The problem is that the states without the death penalty (Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Vermont) have long enjoyed relatively low murder rates, something that might well have more to do with other factors than the death penalty. Instead one must compare, over time, how murder rates change in the two groups – those adopting the death penalty and those that did not.

It is because of this concern that we also provide another post that looks at crime rates before and after regulations such as bans.

Finally, as an aside, one has to be very careful in making comparisons across countries because numbers are not always comparable. For example, homicides in England and Wales are not counted the same as in other countries. Their homicide numbers typically “exclude any cases which do not result in conviction, or where the person is not prosecuted on grounds of self defence or otherwise” (Report to Parliament). A more detailed discussion of the difference between “offenses initially recorded as homicide” and “offenses currently recorded as homicide” in England and Wales based on the outcomes of trials is available starting on page 9 here. While this adjustment reduces overall homicides by about 15 percent, it has a larger impact on firearm homicides because those tend to be the ones most likely to involve gang fights that are much more difficult to solve. The problem isn’t just that it reduces the recorded homicide rate in England and Wales, but there would be a sizable reduction in the reported US homicide rate if this approach were used here. For example, from 2000 to 2008 only about 62 percent of US homicides are even cleared by arrest. The numbers in the UK appear to be only adjusted based on cases where charges are brought. In that case, it is useful to note that in the US only about half of those arrested are eventually convicted (also here).

A time-series discussion of how crime rates change before and after gun bans is available here.

Other Countries bias down their homicide numbers

You also need to be very careful before relying too heavily on homicide rates in other countries. If the Unites States is relatively more accurate in measuring its homicide rate and other countries try to hide their rates, it will look make it look like the US has a relatively higher rate than it actually does. Take two examples.

Argentina — Some countries might deliberately mischaracterize homicides into another category.

The breakdown of official statistics also raises the critical question of whether the extent of youth homicides is being obscured. With gun suicides and accidental deaths separately categorized, many of the violent deaths involving a firearm that La Nacion reports are currently listed as “unknown intent” could be homicides. . . .

UKHomicides in England and Wales are not counted the same as in other countries.  Their homicide numbers “exclude any cases which do not result in conviction, or where the person is not prosecuted on grounds of self defence or otherwise” (Report to Parliament).  The problem isn’t just that it reduces the recorded homicide rate in England and Wales, but what would a similar reduction mean for the US.

If taken literally, and there is significant evidence that in practice the actual adjustment is no where near this large, a simple comparison can be made.  In 2012, the US murder rate was 4.7 per 100,000, a total of 14,827.  Arrests amounted to only 7,133.  Using only people who were arrested (not just convicted) would lower the US murder rate to 2.26 per 100,000.  More information on the adjustment for England and Wales is available here and it suggests that while many homicides are excluded it isn’t as large as it would appear (in 1997, the downward adjustment would be about 12 percent). 

Firearm Homicides

Many gun control advocates prefer to look at only firearm homicides, not total murders. The United States has neither the highest firearm homicide rates for all countries or for developed countries. Among OECD countries, Mexico has the highest firearms homicide rate, with a rate about 3 times higher than the US rate.  Brazil’s and Russia’s are much higher, though Russia does not report firearm homicides so it is only a guess for that country.

By the way, despite Israel and Switzerland having very high gun possession rates, their firearm homicide rates are extremely low. In the data shown below, Switzerland had a firearms homicide rate of 0.77 per 100,000 people and Israel has a rate of just 0.09 per 100,000.

Note that there are many countries that clearly have higher gun homicide rates than the United States that don’t have data available. Indeed, while 192 countries report total homicides, only 116 countries report firearm homicides. The average homicide rate for the countries that don’t have firearm homicides is 11.1 per 100,000. The median homicide rate for those that are missing is 8.7 per 100,000. Among the countries with higher homicide rates is Russia with a homicide rate of 11.6. The bottom line is that the countries that are missing the data are among the worst homicide countries.

Again, all the concerns provided over relying on cross-sectional data still apply here.  In addition, the firearm homicide data is not available for many of the countries with the highest homicide rates, suggesting that this cross-sectional comparison is even much more misleading than the discussion on homicides.  Click on figures to enlarge.
Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at Friday, June 27, 11.55 PM
Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at Friday, June 27, 11.56 PM

The UNODC homicide report from 2013 is available here.

Regression estimates for developed countries.

OECD Small Arms Survey regressions

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99 Responses

  1. […] Comparing murder rates across countries. If you don’t cherry pick your data, there’s no correlation between gun ownership and homicide rates. […]

  2. […] Lott has recently published an article that reveals stark flaws in the Survey’s methodology – methodology that governments […]

  3. […] I just found this great article that looks at homicide rates (just “Murder” is often counted wildly different in other […]

  4. […] a dialogue on this level please see these two posts here and here.four) “[m]ore than twice as many ladies are killed with a gun utilized by their […]

  5. […] any case, the total number of murders is the more important comparison and the U.S. murder rate is less than the average murder rate for the world.  Nor is it close to having the highest murder rate among developed […]

  6. […] any case, the total number of murders is the more important comparison and the U.S. murder rate is less than the average murder rate for the world.  Nor is it close to having the highest murder rate among developed […]

  7. […] article from which the chart was taken by the Crime Prevention Research Center has a much more sophisticated analysis of the […]

  8. […] article that the chart was taken from at the Crime Prevention Research Center, has a much more sophisticated analysis of the […]

  9. […] article that the chart was taken from at the Crime Prevention Research Center, has a much more sophisticated analysis of the […]

  10. […] rates compared to other countries. These are chosen so as to avoid conveying that the U.S. actually lies about mid-point in both gun homicides and homicides from all causes.  We have much lower rates of overall violent […]

  11. […] Both Russia and China do not report accurate statistics on their military spending. In China's case, it is also easier to spend less when you hack American designs (see JSF copy). The US is too busy fighting everyone's battles to worry about the ultimate cost to this nation and our budget. This is why I think we have seen the popularization of Libertarian ideas and candidates. I welcome the discussion and 3rd party. Goodness knows that neither Republicans or Democrats represent me. The statistics on gun violence and death in this country are misleading as well. We have more guns = more gun death. The violent crime rate statistics are highly manipulated. Comparing murder rates and gun ownership across countries – Crime Prevention Research Center […]

  12. […] by private citizens and yet ranks low in gun homicides. You can read further on this by following this link .  The article states that many countries often deflate their own numbers by skewing the way a gun […]

  13. […]  Chart from Crime Prevention Research Center […]

  14. […]  Chart from Crime Prevention Research Center […]

  15. […] Comparing murder rates and gun ownership across countries […]

  16. […] has also been controversy over how European countries calculate their homicide statistics, but the bottom line is Pollack is […]

  17. […] with the contention that concealed carry does not make people safer and flawed assumptions on comparing murder rates with other […]

  18. Larry Stirling says:

    The flaw in all these analyses is assuming that the murder rate and gun ownership have anything to do with each other.

    First, the murder rate is not constant across the US and assigning the horror life in the ten most dangerous cities in the US with the entire country is simply a false representation. Gun ownership is widespread, the mass of murders is not.

    Second, have you taken a moment to review the historic and ongoing murder rates throughout Africa?

    Millions are slaughtered and you are whining about the relatively tiny murder rate in the US? What about Russia, China, North Korea, and any of the Muslim inspired wars?

    If it is the loss of life or murders you are concerned about turn your attention to where it is a real problem.

    Or is that too dangerous for you?

    Larry Stirling
    San Diego

    • mirgc says:

      You are partially correct. I think the data was more of an attempt to demonstrate that how violent a country is, is independent of gun-ownership. i.e. guns don’t lead to more killing, but rather the culture is more to blame/credit.

      Conversely, if some of those countries would allow their citizens to arm themselves, there would be fewer roaming bands of machete wielding warlords.

      Note: My wife is from one of those countries with high homicide, but near non-existent gun ownership. Her father (owner of the only small store in the village) used a machete has his personal defense weapon. Which he had to use a couple of times to defend his store and family. His wife and daughters? They didn’t have much to equalize their smaller stature and physical strength.

    • Gary says:

      So, how many thousands of death a year does it take to become a “real problem” here? It does not seem rational to me to not deal with a problem because someone else has the same problem on a larger scale.

      • e says:

        I submit to you that the problem is behavior, not firearms. If you want to stop gun crime stop plea bargaining for violent crimes. And work to re-instill a respect for human life. Since the misguided 1962 supreme court decision taking God, prayer and the Bible out of schools (seems it WAS “Constitutional” up till that point,) and the horrendous 1973 decision legalizing the slaughter of humans in the womb our respect for human life has diminished considerably.

        • Dennis says:

          Right, because we all know that Moses’ slaughter of the kingdoms, including women and children, are a great example of respect for human life.

          • KuhnKat says:

            So Dennis, second guessing GOD now??


            Oh wait, you don’t believe in God. You think you are an evolved mess of chemicals. Mess is probably correct…

        • Diane Jettinghoff says:

          Sorry, but emphasizing Christianity in government and public schools has ALWAYS been against the Constitution as per the very first Ammendment. The separation of religion and government is one of the most important fundamentals of our country so that all, no matter what a person’s religion is, they are free to worship or not worship such as they believe, and not influence government according to their beliefs. Unfortunately, there has always been a false idea of this issue perpetrated by politicians who want to exert power over others – especially minorities. Would you like a Catholic making political decisions based on their philosophies and forcing you to go to mass; how about Buddists ; (and this is especially good) how about an Atheists? Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention God, supporting the First Amendment. All faiths and beliefs have good and bad people, including Christianity.

          • Chili Dogg says:

            Just for the record, the Constitution does state ‘…in the year of our Lord…”.

          • T. J. Anderson says:

            Diane, please read the constitution and try to understand it the way our Founding Father’s intended it to be used. In their day, they had a king who was forcing his subjects to abandon their religious believes and join the Church of England. Many people from all over Europe came to the new world to escape forced religion. The idea our Founding Fathers put in the constitution was not to separate religion from government or education, but to keep the ruling authority from mandating a particular type of religion and forbidding all others. Your argument is sad… presuming religious influence is somehow bad or evil. The base of any legitimate religion is decency and good will. The absence of religion is the absence of a moral, ethical and principle center. Can religious people do bad? Of course. Can non-religious people do bad? No… they have no basis to determine good or bad. Anything goes! In any event, try to understand the constitution the way it was intended.

      • Bill says:

        Maybe we should eliminate cars using your same rational

        • Ross says:

          Absolutely, we should! Cars accidents do kill people. Self-driving cars are coming and will hopefully fix that. Better yet, Americans should get with the program and use more public transportation.

        • Artaxerxes says:

          We don’t ban cars but we do require a license and strictly regulate their use, with constant checks that the operator is in fact following the law. Are you sure you want to continue with this analogy? Because I’m perfectly fine with it.

          • Mark says:

            Well yes actually vehicular deaths in the US are higher than guns, even though vehicles are far more regulated.

      • Dave Conner says:

        I see nothing in this article that suggests we should not deal with the problem of violent crimes. It only challenges the statistics that are used in an effort to promote the disarming of America.

        A disarmed America has no defense against tyrants who historically always appear to subvert undefended liberties.

        If you are not aware of this phenomenon, it is a testament to the effectiveness of your forefathers who have purchased your insulated innocence with hot lead.

        • Jeremy McQueary says:

          Oh right, because that’s certainly happened recently. That’s the paranoid delusion of sycophants who can’t think for themselves, which amazingly covers quite the demographic in this country. A bunch of scared citizens gobbling up the rants of fear-mongers. So very very afraid of everything that differs from your self-perpetuated norm, a norm that is fed to you from your chosen source. I own a gun for defense, but not from the government, that kind of craziness I leave to nut-jobs hiding away in their cabins with their stockpiles. Was it not that long ago that our society looked on that kind of behavior as overly-paranoid and dangerous? Why is suddenly normal to think that one day martial-law or some kind of tyrannical rule will overtake our democracy? I’m more worried about party lines splitting the country in two. The line dividing the two parties keeps getting deeper and deeper, but over what? Nothing is so different about the real core issues of our country that we should all be divided like this, it’s ridiculous. We all want food, shelter, clothing, and good educations for our children and future generations, don’t we? Am I wrong in thinking that?

    • Kevin says:

      I must say I’ve never seen an article use charts and graphs repeatedly to prove itself wrong. We have relatively few homicides and own a high amount of guns per capita. Thanks for doing our work for us bozos.

    • joe says:

      please show me the gun ownership rates in your headline. The “rates” you site are per capita rates, not ownership rates. not even close to the same thing. by your logic, my block has a 100% ownership rate because we have 10 neighbors and ten guns. actually it is 10% because I own 10 guns and my neighbors own zero.

      • johnrlott says:

        Thanks, Joe, but isn’t that exactly what was discussed in the post? “There are also other problems with the survey. For example, a much better measure of gun ownership would be the percentage of the population owning guns, and not the number of guns per 100 people as used by the Small Arms Survey. Presumably the issue is whether people have access to guns, not the number of guns greater than one that an individual has access to.”

    • Deborah Holloway says:

      It is sad you have to say we are no worse than Russia or North Korea. Though actually we have a higher homicide rate than Russia, slightly.

      • KuhnKat says:

        Uh, NO. We do NOT have either a higher homicide rate or higher gun homicide rate than Russia. This survey did not find that and neither do others that have been done.

  19. Eli McLaughlin says:

    What is not usually shown is that the vast majority of murders occur in the cities with the strictest gun control laws.

    • josh says:

      I agree and the reason why it’s higher is because it makes it a lot harder for the people who are responsible gun owners to have guns. The people who do murder are not going to care about breaking a few extra laws to get the gun.

      • Tucason_Jim says:

        I want to point out that, because crime was such a problem in big cities, that gun-control was instituted as a solution. The strict gun laws have not produced the high crime rates… but, they have not solved them either.

        • johnrlott says:

          Dear Tucson_Jim:
          If you read the above post, you will note this is a criticism that we raised about using cross-sectional data. Fortunately, there is a way of fixing this concern and that is looking at the changes in many places before and after they ban or regulated guns. For example,

          You can see the book More Guns, Less Crime for additional discussions on regulations more generally.

          Thank you.

          • JIm says:

            Unfortunately, this fix doesn’t really work. It’s an improvement to be sure, but it doesn’t “fix” the problem. The real question is whether gun laws in a specific location result in fewer violent crimes than there would have been in that same location without the gun laws. Comparing murder rates before and after the implementation of the laws can only tell us whether or not the rates went down afterwards, not whether they were lower than they would have been without the laws.

            All of these analyses make assumptions about the root cause of violent crime. Comparisons across place, assume that the background causes are similar in the various places examined so that gun laws would have similar effects. Comparisons across time assume that background causes are relatively constant across the time interval and that the place studied is sufficiently causally isolated from nearby areas. There are, of course, various ways to address these assumptions, but these in turn make other assumptions that are no more warranted. What is lacking in all of this discussion is not data and more exacting correlational studies, but a serious look at the various causes of violent crime generally. Trying to isolate the effect of a single type of variable, gun laws, on a phenomenon that is poorly understood and for which the variable is likely not a major contributor, is not likely to produce helpful results regardless of the “fixes” applied.

          • johnrlott says:

            Dear Jim:
            It works in the sense that every single time that guns have been banned, murder rates go up. It is hard to think of some other factor that is left out that changed at all these times that could otherwise explain the increase. If you can think of such a factor, please share it with us. In any case, the two posts that are put up on this website are meant to deal with the cross country comparisons that are frequently made in the media. If you want a detailed comparison that accounts for thousands of other factors, the US provides 51 different laboratories to test out the impact of gun control laws and it is possible to make extremely detailed comparisons that allow you to account for different factors that can impact crime rates (See “More Guns, Less Crime”).

          • JIm says:

            It’s trivial to come up with factors that would account for subsequent increase. The simplest ones involve factors that themselves increase over the time period. Pick any factor that you think is related to violent crime, e.g. poverty rates or population density. If those increase over the same time period as the analysis, then crime rates might increase even if the gun laws had a supressive effect. You’ve already noted that there is a problem in cross-location analysis as locations with higher violent crime rates are those that tend to enact gun laws. If it turns out to be true that locations that enact gun laws not only have higher background crime rates than other locations, but that those crime rates are increasing (i.e. if the derivative of the violent crime rate is positive) then a pre/post analysis runs into essentially the same problem as cross location analysis. Both types of studies rely on the background causal factors being constant across the comparison. Without a clear analysis and statistical control of these causal factors, we can only rely on bare assumption that they are. Diachronic analysis is likely an improvement, as a single location is more likely to be similar to itself at an earlier stage than it is to be similar to a different location. (At least this is true in the absence of a clear causal account of violent crime. If we had such an account, locations could be matched on factors.) However, diachronic analysis in no way “fixes” the problems inherent in cross-locational analysis. Instead it simply moves the problems to comparisons across time rather than across location. For this to be a fix, we would need to have reason to think that the causal factors are relatively invariant across time in a single location. Whether this is more likely to be true than that causal factors are relatively invariant across reasonably selected locations depends upon what those factors are. I haven’t seen that we have much actual evidence in favor of diachronic analysis being better, though it’s not implausible as a guess.

            Again, it’s not that diachronic analysis is a bad thing, or that I can point to a specific factor on which it fails (gun violence is not my research field.) Rather, I just want to point out that the diachronic analysis you refer to doesn’t fix anything. It may plausibly be thought to somewhat decrease the issues involved in cross locational analyses, but until we have a clear idea of the causal background we don’t really know whether, or to what degree, it does so. This is a general problem with correlational studies, whether synchronic or diachronic. It is always tempting, but almost never justified, to draw causal conclusions from them.

        • KuhnKat says:

          You suggesting that Chicago, DC, and the rest of the Democrat plantations had higher murder rates BEFORE their gun laws?? I don’t believe it. Y’all gonna have to show some proof on that speculation.

      • Spikealee says:

        thinking of the man that just shot up and killed innocent people in a movie theatre in Lafayette. He had been denied a gun at a legitimate gun store, but then went to a gun show, and though he had documented serious mental issues, his family was terrified of him, and that is documented, , he still bought a gun at one of the “gun shows”.. The gun shows should be illegal! If you want a gun, go to the gun store and apply for it. Then have the gun shop actually look at the person’s criminal and mental health records!! These shootings have Got to stop. Putting our heads in the sand saying well, “Russia or Uruguay has more” REALLY? That is one sorry reason for allowing this mass murder to continue. Schools, churches, movie theatre’s , What does it take to get these people that sell and sanction these Gun Shows to realize they are a scourge to our country. People have the right to walk out of their door, and not get shot and killed. It happens Every day.

  20. […] In the absence of facts…conjecture fits the bill. Switzerland is an almost entirely European…read white…populated country. I didn't say it wasn't diverse…just that it is mostly European. Pretty sure they have more than one language in Europe. You are right people want to go there. The standard of living is supremely high as it is Norway and other Nordic countries that have vast resources and industry for the number of people in that country. Why wouldn't people want to immigrate into the 2nd or 3rd highest salary country in Europe? Wasn't their attempt at a gun restrictions referendum just rejected? Do you really think that Ammo is available? I guess you passed on the other stats: Comparing murder rates and gun ownership across countries – Crime Prevention Research Center […]

  21. […] ^ Jump up to:a b Crime Prevention Research Center (March 31, 2014). “Comparing murder rates and gun ownership across countries”. […]

  22. Grant says:

    The comparison of guns per population only accounts for legal guns, not illegal guns. Illegal guns are the ones used in 99% of all gun crimes. Also look at the statistics based on crime in the city compared to countryside and you will find the cities are the problems. Now look at the laws, strict gun control laws do not prevent criminals from committing gun crimes, because they do not purchase them legally and criminals do not care about laws.

    People are not just going into a gun store, buying a gun and then going to commit a crime. We know how criminals are getting their guns, but those statistics aren’t shown because then it shows the real truth.

    Now look at which party runs these cities and the crime rates and compare them with other cities.

    My research shows that gun crimes are a democrat problem, that’s why they need gun control, actually they need to learn to control themselves.

    For example; Black offending rate (34.4 per 100,000), was almost eight times higher than whites (4.5 per 100,000). By offending, I mean gun crime against another person.

    I’m not making this stuff up, I have tons of statistics regarding this stuff. More guns does not equal more crime, as a matter of fact.

    “But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow. …
    For society does not control crime, ever, by forcing the law-abiding to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of criminals. Society controls crime by forcing the criminals to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of the law-abiding.”

    • Blake says:

      I think if you look at where their data comes from, they consider all civilian (non government purchased) guns, not legal vs . Illegal guns. It isn’t from a door-to-door census of people asking who has gun.

    • Mojo Bone says:

      Leaving aside the obvious racial bias in your post, the fact is, most guns used in crimes were originally obtained legally, (upwards of 90%, by most estimates, but it’s probably even higher) or semi-legally, through straw purchases, and you can bet the gun sales figures, at the very least, are accurate. According to a former gunrunner of my acquaintance, firearms are commonly purchased new through intermediaries or on the secondary market at gun shows in West Virginia (and places like it) where gun laws are lax, for later sale to felons in NYC. (and places like it) The same thing goes on in Indiana for sale in Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the US.

      Criminals as a class can be pretty stupid, but organized criminals are smart enough to assess risk; stolen guns are difficult to resell, the serial numbers are in a database, once the theft is reported, leaving a very small window to try to pawn or resell to anyone who’s not already a felon. Straw purchases are much safer, (they don’t involve breaking into the domicile of an armed homeowner, for starters) as the source usually doesn’t report the transfer; if the gun turns up in the commission of a crime, they just tell police they didn’t know the weapon was missing.

      • johnrlott says:

        President Obama’s claim was that the US accessibility to guns is what causes our high murder rate. My response was only to take the data that he was referring to and say that in fact in that simple relationship the opposite was true. The US has neither the highest homicide rate nor the highest mass violence rate. Nor is there the causation that he claims. I think that lots of factors matter and that is the reason I have written books that literally account for thousands of other factors. If this simplistic discussion is racist, you might want to take up your claim with Obama because he is the one who decided the initial comparison.

        As to the 90% claim you assert, the number is quite debatable for the US, but note that in the countries were guns are banned (e.g., Russia and Mexico) or in countries were only a couple percent of the population legally own guns (e.g., Brazil) you have a murder rate that is 2.5 to 5 times higher. Given that, your notion of gun theft isn’t relevant. The point is a simple one, you assume that there is only one primary way for criminals to get guns and that is obviously not true. Take drug gangs, who are responsible for most violent crime and murder. How hard have we tried to keep those drug gangs from bringing in illegal drugs? Even if you eliminated all guns from the United States right now, who long would it take for the drug gangs to bring in guns along with their new shipments of drugs so as to protect them? Illegal drugs are very valuable and other drug gangs will want to steal them. The drug gangs can’t call the police to help get their illegal drugs back.

  23. […] Re: America has a problem with gun insanity Comparing murder rates and gun ownership across countries – Crime Prevention Research Center […]

  24. […] Follow this link to get an overview of crime in America: .  Then read this article and look at graphs found in this article: […]

  25. […] as a nation protected by armed militias, virtually all men between the ages of 18 and 42 have firearms in their homes. Yet Swiss murder rates are extremely low by world standards, similar to the quite low rates […]

  26. Bob says:

    Puerto Rico isn’t part of the US?

  27. CavScout62 says:

    If you have half a brain then you KNOW that an armed American society is a far more POLITE American Society. In every state where Constitutional Carry is observed, (as it should be in all 50 States because it’s THE LAW OF THE LAND) not only are the homicide rates lower but, so are all violent crime rates lower. Why you ask? Because people (I use the term with trepidation) are far less likely to attack you if they believe there is a high probability that you are armed. The City/States with the most illegal, strictest firearm bans/control have the worst violent crime rates as the Bad Guys KNOW the probability of the average citizen being armed is very low because he/she doesn’t want to be accosted by the PORK for firearms possession. Common Sense is NOT a common commodity in this land.

    • Kat says:

      You know, that’s sort of a tired argument. Crime is lower in communities with lax gun laws because those are typically rural backward communities with low populations. I wish people would stop using that as a comparison against crime in urban, highly populated communities. It’s lacking in common sense besides statistical reality.

  28. Bill says:

    The problem in the US is that people can buy guns so easily without being required to undergo training and obtain a license. This is completely ridiculous. There is no reason why a person who wants to own a gun should not be forced to have a background check, take a gun safety course, and obtain a license. You would assume that a person who wants to own a gun for protection would also want to know how to use it properly and also how to prevent it from being used improperly. I don’t think instituting stricter gun control would necessarily lower the intentional homicide rate but I do think it would mean fewer accidental shootings (e.g. two years olds pulling a gun out of their mom’s purse and shooting them at Walmart.

    • Doug says:

      Well Bob that is Michigan Law I took A gun Saftey Course and back ground Check and got my permit to carry 6 week in the mail after all was done

    • DudeManGuy says:

      You are still discounting the fact that most violent gun crimes are not caused by legal gun owners. As said above, people aren’t going into a store and buying a firearm and then killing people with it. I have to agree that education is something that I would agree making a requirement to own guns but it is not the problem overall. Illegal gun owners are not going to take a safety course any more than they will use proper storage methods. In my opinion, mental health is the real problem. In ALL mass murder cases in the last decade, the shooter was found to be mentally disturbed and in most cases it was documented and well known. However, there was little to no follow through by courts or doctors to ensure treatment was being given. The guns used in the shootings were also not purchased legally by the shooter. (Key words “by the shooter”. One of the shooters stole the guns from his mother and another one was given from his father via an illegal straw man purchase, for example.) Had there been more available mental health care, these atrocities by have been prevented.

  29. […] really isn’t all that violent. John Lott, a discredited pro-gun academic, has drawn favorable comparisons of the U.S. with violence-torn Mexico. A widely cited yet thoroughly debunked law review article by […]

  30. […] really isn’t all that violent. John Lott, a discredited pro-gun academic, has drawn favorable comparisons of the U.S. with violence-torn Mexico. A widely cited yet thoroughly debunked law review article by […]

  31. Bob says:

    The big question Bill is were those purchases done legitimately or not? I watched a show recently that took plain people into 10 different gun shops to buy a gun and 9 out of those 10 required a cool down period and a background check. The problem I see is gun store #10!! I do however agree with mandatory training in the use of firearms and firearms safety. I also think the sale of firearms needs to be more tightly regulated, not to say yes or no but to make sure all checks have been done correctly.

  32. […] formation as a nation protected by armed militias, virtually all men between the ages of 18 and 42 have firearms in their homes. Yet Swiss murder rates are extremely low by world standards, similar to the quite low rates of […]

  33. […] according to the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), the United States is an outlier. When the United States is removed from the data, the […]

  34. Phil says:

    Forget about the rubbery figures around what constitutes homicide in diferrent countries. Look at the overall death rate caused by guns. US is the clear winner on these measures. And this also talks about “small arms” what does that include?

    • Tucason_Jim says:

      Ummmm, not it isn’t. The US has a HUGE population compared to, for example, Great Britain. When you talk TOTAL numbers, the US has a huge number of gun related deaths… however, as a percentage of the population, i.e. “RATE”, the US is in the middle of the pack, with 4.7 deaths per hundred-thousand people.

      So, if you want to blame “gun ownership” for crime, then, you do not get a chance to selectively choose your data. The trend must be consistent, but, it is not.

  35. mike dvey says:

    Article that leaves out the most important numbers in the fact. Politifact says it best, the claim that Americans are 20 times more likely than other civilized countries is true. The problem with your graph is that you leave out most of the countries we compare best with – the UK, Japan, Canada etc. Way to cherry pick your data.

    • johnrlott says:

      Dear Mike: All those countries are indeed included in both the UNODC and OECD data. You can obviously see this in the OECD data. If you look at the UNODC data, you will see all the countries there also, though the type is small in order to fit in all the countries. For the graphs showing the regression lines, there are simply too many dots close to each other to label all of them. But all the countries in the Small Arms Survey are included.

      As to “civilized” countries, do you have an official list of civilized countries? Is Chile a “civilized country? Is Brazil a civilized country? Estonia? Tell me how you define “civilized’ countries. Usually, people make the claim regarding “developed/industrialized” countries, and one can clearly see that claim is false with regard to developed/industrialized countries.

  36. […] Crime Prevention Research Center also examined the data and came up with very similar […]

  37. Quora says:

    When will Americans get real about our gun violence? Honduras. Statistically my kid will never be shot in a mass shooting. Even though it seems like it happens a lot, it’s still exceedingly rare and doesn’t accoun…

  38. At first this article seemed like a fair critical evaluation, but then I came across this line: “The relationship between homicide rates and the supposed measure of gun ownership provided the Small Arms Survey shows that even with their obviously biased measure of gun ownership, more guns ownership is associated with fewer homicides, though the relationship is not statistically significant.”

    First of all, the word “obviously” does not belong in any reputable work, as it reeks of partisanship on an issue. But more importantly, the chart used to demonstrate this relationship shows Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey on the chart as “developed countries”. This is FALSE. These countries are DEVELOPING countries, and the fact the author would identify them as such discredits the whole article since it is clear the author is willfully deceiving the readers to support a particular viewpoint. Furthermore, Chile and Estonia are at the lower end of the developed countries as per HDI metrics, with Estonia being #33 out of 49, and Chile #41 out of 49. These oversights by the author, whether deliberate or merely accidental, undermine the criticisms and counter-arguments presented in this article.

    It may not be important to some people how countries are categorized or what their level of human development is, but it is clear to the author that this is vital to the arguments presented which is why this intellectual dishonesty was deemed necessary; as the author well knows, any good statistical analysis requires categorizing countries into equivalent groups to prevent confounding variables from leading us to spurious conclusions.

    Correlation is not causation, so to maximize the strength of our correlative relationship requires accounting for different variables which may influence the homicide rate. For example, the citizens of countries which are less technologically developed may have less access guns for homicide; even more so, people who are economically poorer may be less likely to purchase guns due to their high comparative cost. Additionally, countries which are economically poorer and less developed are more likely to commit more crimes REGARDLESS of the gun ownership rate simply because low socioeconomic development is a major risk factor for violence.

    All these factors have to be taken into account to ensure the critical analysis of the effects of gun control is properly done so as to ensure the conclusions are reasonably correct and not confounded by third party factors. This article’s author has demonstrate not only are they not interested in ensuring such, but they intentionally deceived their readers into thinking they actually had taken these factors into account to artificially strengthen this case. This kind of deception and partisanship has no place in serious critical inquiry.

  39. […] count murders in their statistic unless there’s a conviction. The U.S. could cut its murder rate in half by adopting this same practice. That alone won’t close the gap in gun homicides, but it does […]

  40. […] are a lot of issues about how different countries measure homicide or murders differently, but that isn’t really relevant for the discussion here as we are talking about changes over time […]

  41. Jason says:

    There is flawed logic in saying that if more people had guns there would be less gun crime and gun deaths. Studies by the Harvard School of Public Health show states where guns are more prevalent, suicide rates and accidental gun deaths are higher than in states with fewer guns. As for crime, not everyone is a responsible gun owner. If everyone was, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Responsible gun owners who have obtained guns legally still occasionally fall off the deep end. Be it a jealous rage, custody dispute, nervous breakdown, or psychotic break. Japan has forbid almost all forms of gun ownership and you know how many gun homicides they have a year? 2. Logic dictates, if people don’t have guns, they can’t use them to kill other people or themselves. Every new instance of someone using a gun to go on a killing rampage shows that our system is flawed. Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, Charleston, Lafayette. And last, why do gun advocates always cherry pick the results showing Russia or Mexico or Estonia and compare us to them, I don’t want us to be compared to them. You go to most of those places and get away from the tourist areas and see if you feel safe. We should be comparing ourselves to countries more like us. When you compare us to the UK, France, Sweden, Germany, or Japan, we show that their gun laws must be working and ours don’t.

  42. Lindsey Lee says:

    The OECD countries may be too broad a set to compare the United States. If you were to compare the United States to the IMF Advanced Economies, the data would show the U.S. to be an outlier with regards to gun ownership, gun deaths, and murder.

  43. […] Thor is online now   Quote Quick Reply post #4525 of 4525 (permalink) Old Today, 03:46 PM Thor Member     Join Date: Oct 2011 Posts: 6,515 Re: America has a problem with gun insanity Comparing murder rates and gun ownership across countries – Crime Prevention Research CenterCrime Pr… […]

  44. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems
    as though you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre
    talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to
    your site when you could be giving us something informative to

  45. Cris Baker says:

    When guns bans are strictly enforced, while guns homicides may go down, violent crime goes up. The metric to compare is the Violent Crime Rate per 100,000 people – not gun murders.

    Once the UK had banned guns, the British Telegraph newspaper reported that: “The United Kingdom is the violent crime capital of Europe… The total number of violent offenses recorded compared to population is higher than any other country in Europe, as well as America, Canada, Australia and South Africa.” see:

  46. […] and quit trying to offer “solutions” that criminals will ignore. Also, please get better analysis on murder rates and gun ownership. When real commonsense solutions are ignored in favor of […]

  47. […] rights, and quit trying to offer “solutions” that criminals will ignore. Also, please get better analysis on murder rates and gun ownership. When real commonsense solutions are ignored in favor of […]

  48. […] aren’t particular outliers.  Fortunately, the Crime Prevention Research Center provides a helpful set of five data graphs illustrating these facts in vivid terms that even the most hardened Second Amendment opponents can […]

  49. […] Does the USA have the highest intentional homicide rate among “developed countries”? No. Is the rate of intentional homicide in the USA higher now than ever? […]

  50. […] conceptual problems discussed in this report by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC): “Comparing Murder Rates and Gun Ownership Across Countries“. These issues are summarized […]

  51. […] Jones shows the same, that gun violence tends to occur in places where there are no guns. The Crime Prevention Research Center has produced a chart showing that, of the 109 nations studied, the United States fell on the lower half of the average […]

  52. […] As you can see, this whole argument is rife with logical pitfalls and ideological mine fields. But one thing is for sure, the US does have more gun deaths because we have more guns. I agree with that statement. But would we have fewer overall homicides if we had fewer guns? Not necessarily. The question is, “Does the United States have a higher crime rate and more overall homicides than all the other countries with fewer guns and stricter gun control laws?” The answer is a clear no. […]

  53. […] Internet memes and charts by gun control advocates routinely suggest that stricter gun control laws correlate with fewer gun homicides. But correlation is not causation, and the statistics often reveal more complicated pictures upon further investigation. […]

  54. […] Brazil has had one of the highest murder rates in the world (they are 24th in the first figure in this post).  From AFP about a draft law that could be voted on in […]

  55. W.G. Whitney says:

    Another problem with bias in the murder/homicide rate is that homicides, in Canada anyway, are logged only for those who end up dead. Since the statistics started to be compiled for gun control purposes, the efficiency of paramedics and the spread of better emergency clinics across the country has lead to a lot less deaths, even after severe gunshot wounds.
    None of these survivors were entered into the statistics as homicides !! Even though the criminals tried very hard to kill them but failed. This under reports the number of gun related, attempted or actual murders and makes it look like gun controls are working.

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