In the wake of the tragic events in Newtown, CT, a renewed debate about gun laws is forthcoming in the United States. With that in mind, the following is a look at the top ten gun exporting countries around the world, to see how the United States compares to them in that and other areas related to guns and gun violence. All of these numbers come together to paint a picture of a country with high ownership and production of guns, with high rates of death related to that ownership, and yet some of the laxest laws on the planet when it comes to regulating them.
When ranked among the top ten arms exporters, the United States is far and away in the lead in terms of sheer output. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States shipped off a total of $6.6 billion worth of arms in 2009, beating the next closest competitor, Russia, by over a billion dollars. Rounding out the list are Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, Spain, Israel, the Netherlands and Italy.
The data combines both private sales from arms manufacturers and government authorized arms trades between states. For a better look at how the latter looks, and how the United States still outperforms all other countries, Google has an interactive look at where all these guns go.
Not only does the United States ship off the most guns in the world, its people own the most guns among the top ten exporters. The Small Arms Survey in 2007 pulled together a database of several countries’ gun ownership per 100 people, and found that an average of 88 guns per 100 people within the U.S. In comparison, the next highest country, France, had only 33 guns for every 100 citizens.
Rather than looking at the sheer number of deaths caused by firearms in the top ten exporters, a more accurate way to compare them is by gun deaths per 100,000 citizens. In that ranking, for those who break gun deaths out from their annual murder rate, the United States is again at the top of the list, this per the World Health Organization and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.
The United States in 2009 had 3 gun deaths for every 100,000 people over the course of the year, completely eclipsing the next nearest country’s rate of .96, coming from Israel, by a wide margin. When you factor in the .243 rate of France, the second-highest gun owning country, the United States’ gun troubles seem even more problematic. Notable in this context, in the aftermath of mass shootings, other countries have tightened their laws accordingly and seen a drop in gun violence.
One of the few areas related to gun ownership and violence where the United States does not come in at the top among the biggest arms exporters is the percentage of homicides within the country carried out using a firearm. In that statistic, Italy holds the first position, with the United States in second. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime and the Organization of American States, 60 percent of the murders in the U.S. in 2009 involved a firearm.