We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming for something completely different. A few days ago there was yet another mass shooting in America. Over the last few days without fail people have been using this tragedy to advance their own political agendas. Democrats are calling for a ban on scary looking guns and magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds. Republicans are saying it’s not guns but our failing mental health system even though they have no intention of actually fixing it.
So I thought it would be interesting to compare the United States gun ownership rates, murder, and suicide to some other countries.
||Guns / 100 people
|United States 1995
*Rate per 100,000 people
United States – ‘Merica Fuck Yeah! We’re number one in gun ownership. We have the highest murder rate of other developed countries but despite the high rate of gun ownership we’re about average when compared to the rest of the world. Suicide rates are similar to other developed countries.
Japan – Has almost no guns in private ownership and also has an extremely low murder rate with 0 murders committed with guns. Amazing! It would seem to support the Democrats conclusion to ban guns but what’s up with Japan’s suicide rate? It’s off the charts. Perhaps this suggests that banning guns would not do much to reduce the suicide rate in the United States. If people want to kill themselves, it seems like they will find a way, gun or not.
Switzerland – Pro Second Amendment groups often like to use Switzerland as an example of guns not causing murder. Switzerland has the second highest gun ownership rate in the world yet the murder rate is much lower than the United States. It’s also interesting in that Switzerland allows people to store fully automatic assault rifles in their home while serving in the military and gives them the option to keep them when their service is done (after being converted to semi-automatic) yet these scary looking black rifles aren’t indiscriminately killing people on the street.
Sweden – Another country that has a relatively high gun ownership rate yet low murder rate. It should be noted that Sweden (and I presume Switzerland) have stricter gun control laws than the United States with laws that require licensing and registration but I’m not yet convinced these laws are responsible for their drastically lower murder rates.
Australia – Is interesting because in 1996 there was the Port Arthur massacre. In the wake of this tragedy the prime minister basically said, “OK, no more guns”. There was a massive gun buyback and strict gun control laws were put into place. So this gives us some data to compare the effect of these laws on the murder and suicide rates before and after they were implemented. Since 1996, Australia has seen a decline in murder and suicide rates but the United States has also seen similar declines over the same period. Yet over this same time period, Australia has actually seen an increase in robbery and sexual assault while the United States has seen a decrease. Before 1996 the murder rate in Australia was already relatively low so I’m not sure how one would conclude gun controls similar to Australia would solve the United States gun violence problem.
Thailand – Oh Thailand! My beloved “Land of Smiles”, full of kind, gentle, and peaceful Buddhists actually has a thriving gun culture! Who knew!? The firearm ownership rate is very close to Australia and has licensing and registration requirements but has murder and suicide rates similar to the United States. I’m not sure how to explain this one.
To me it seems obvious guns are not the root cause of the gun violence problem in the United States. It’s not even mental health. Would stricter gun control and increased funding of mental health reduce gun violence? Maybe, maybe not. I picked the countries to compare above because they all have very different cultures. I believe it is these cultural differences that are responsible for the varying murder and suicide rates. Not the types of inanimate objects that people own. When will people wake up and realize it’s not just guns or mental health but the entire culture of the United States? Gun violence will not be reduced until a meaningful conversation on the root cause of these problems can take place. I’m not sure what the solution is but it’s not banning guns and it’s probably something more along the lines of better education, eliminating poverty, social injustice, police brutality, and inequality. Big issues that will take generations to address. Not passing a feel good, do nothing gun control law.
I’m not confident any real change will take place when the media, society, and politicians are more interested in “calling out”, “slamming”, and “shutting down” other people through sound bytes, click bait articles, and deceptive tactics.