One of the most obnoxious liberal talking points on guns involves the idea that guns, in and of themselves, cause gun violence. Apparently, as this argument goes, guns or “gun culture” cause law abiding citizens to transform into murderous nuts. In other words more guns must mean more gun violence.
The argument was famously made by sports writer Jason Whitlock and forwarded by Bob Costas on Sunday Night Football after a player murdered his girlfriend and killed himself. According to Costas and Whitlock guns “exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.” In other words, guns make us violent.
Obviously this argument is as flawed as saying that refrigerators exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate our eating, and bait us into embracing gluttony rather than avoiding it. However, it’s also an argument that doesn’t remotely match up with what the numbers tell us. In fact, the numbers tell quite a different story.
According to the latest Small Arms Survey conducted by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies the US tops the world in civilian gun ownership. We have 89 guns for ever 100 residents. That’s well beyond Yemen’s second place rate at 55 guns per 100 and nearly twice the rate of Switzerland which comes in third at 46 guns per 100 residents.
To put it bluntly, we have a lot of guns.
If Whitlock, Costas, and their allies are correct that must mean that our gun murder rate is by far the highest in the world, right? It must be sky high in comparison to the rest of the world, no? We must be first in gun murders, correct?
According to information provided by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime and compiled by the Guardian the answer is an emphatic no. The US is not the world leader in the homicide by firearm rate. The US does not even crack the top 25 in that category.
Instead, the US has the 28th highest homicide by firearm rate of the countries in the report.
This phenomenon isn’t uniquely American either. Switzerland, which ranks 3rd in civilian gun ownership rate at 46 guns per 100 residents, has only the 46th highest homicide rate. Finland, which has the 4th most civilian owned guns at 45 guns per 100 residents, is at 63rd on the list.
So, despite the blustering of Bob Costas and the like guns do not, in fact, turn ordinary people into monsters. More guns do not, in fact, mean more gun violence. Guns can be, and commonly are, used in a responsible manor by people all over the world and especially here in the United States.