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"Americans Armed to the Teeth"

Anglofritz writes on the new Small Arms Survey:
The United States has 290 million guns in circulation, which equates to about one per person or 90 per 100 people -- depending on who's crunching your numbers -- and the highest per capita ratio in the world. Either way it's a staggering stat and one that contrasts to those in the other "northern industrial states" like Canada, Sweden and Germany, where there is an average of 30 guns for every 100 people.


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SC on :

Joerg, If anything, I'm rather surprised to read that firearms ownership in Germany is as high as the data appear to claim. What's the root of it? I was under the impression that population densities in Europe more or less mitigate against a hunting culture. But this may be a mistaken impression.

Anonymous on :

Its a useless statistic without a further distinction between hunting rifles/shotguns and pistols or shotguns used for self-defence.

Pat Patterson on :

Also that the Introduction to the Small Arms Survey doesn't make any distinction between private and public ownership of small arms. But along with SC, considering the report chose to concentrate on small arms in urban areas, the numbers from some of the developed countries do seem awfully high.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"Small Arms Survey doesn't make any distinction between private and public ownership of small arms." The numbers mentioned in this post refer to firearms owned by civilians. Civilians is like what you mean by "private ownership," I assume. So it is 90 firearms per 100 US civilians. Here's a quote [url=]from the relevant chapter[/url]: "Civilians own about 650 million firearms worldwide, roughly 75 per cent of the known total. US citizens alone own some 270 million of these. • There are at least 875 million combined civilian, law enforcement, and military firearms in the world today. • There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per ten people."

Pat Patterson on :

Joerg-I usd the section on how the report was made for my comment. I stand corrected.

SC on :

I have to wonder at how likely it is that the authors of this study have an accurate assessment of the number of firearms - small or large - in circulation in places like Iraq or Nigeria where there are full blown insurgencies, not to mention - as and don't seem them highlighted - Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia just to name a few? And if they can't accurately assess the totals here and other places like them, then how can they claim a knowledge of worldwide totals? But more to the point, why the focus on private firearms ownership in the States? It's not as if large quantities of Remington Wingmasters or Colt Defenders are being smuggled from the Southern Ohio of which Anglofritz writes to the world's trouble spots.

Consul-At-Arms on :

Can you really count the arms in the hands of various rebel groups and insurgents as being "civilians" in any real sense of the word?

SC on :

Well, technically they are; apart from any judgment upon the justness of their actions and causes. Moreover, I don't think you would want automatically to remove from the tally sheet those outside of recognized armed forces of nation states who actually use their arms to kill and maim for whatever reason. In many cases, it is difficult to distinguish between "rebel groups" and criminal armed gangs. To exclude these individuals and groups leaves you with a population largely like Anglofritz's southern Ohio example. What's the point of that? Well, I suppose it is easier to collect data on these populations, and as Joerg has proven can offer up grist for provocative headlines, but again, so what?

SC on :

By the way, for those who are interested in Second Ammendment matters (hoary or not), keep your eye on the progress of the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit on the case of Parker v. District of Columbia If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear this case, and they have to make that decision soon, it will become one of the most politically charged cases in US history as the case would force the court to rule directly on the meaning of the Second Amendment. The case would likely be heard in the fall with the ruling toward the middle of next year. I'll leave it to your imaginations to consider to effect this might have on the US elections next year.

Sue on :

I am not too worried about legal challenges to the 2nd amendment. The term "militia" can easily include informal watch groups who self-organize to guard their neighborhoods after a natural disaster when the police are too busy with search and rescue to keep public order. The militia historically have been armed volunteers, not just paid National Guard members. People who keep guns for hunting and home security are not a threat to public safety.

Mr. Bingley on :

Actually the best part about this was this grudging and painful (for him) admission by the Survey's Director: "The figures dispel the idea that gun ownership and high levels of violence necessarily go hand in hand, he said. "There's no clear relationship between more guns and higher levels of violence," Krause said, pointing to low ownership and high crime rates in Latin America."

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