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Gun Deaths in Germany and the U.S.

Gun homicidesHere are the goods on gun deaths in the U.S. and Germany. Germany is a surprisingly well-armed society -- but oddly enough, not as well-armed as France. But because of sensible regulations, Germany's rate of firearms homicide is 17 times lower than the USA's.

And yet:

The national homicide rate for 2011 was 4.8 per 100,000 citizens — less than half of what it was in the early years of the Great Depression, when it peaked before falling precipitously before World War II. The peak in modern times of 10.2 was in 1980, as recorded by national criminal statistics.

“We’re at as low a place as we’ve been in the past 100 years,” says Randolph Roth, professor of history at Ohio State University and author of this year’s “American Homicide,” a landmark study of the history of killing in the United States. “The rate oscillates between about 5 and 9 [per 100,000], sometimes a little higher or lower, and we’re right at the bottom end of that oscillation.”

Last year’s rate was the lowest of any year since 1963, when the rate was 4.6, according to the Uniform Crime Reports compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Don’t relax quite yet: Americans still kill one another at a much higher rate than do citizens of other wealthy nations.

“By international standards, we never really get to ‘low,’ ” Roth says.


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I unfortunately don't have the time to go through the details of how this list is compiled, but I am very, very skeptical about the number for China (and I am social scientist who works mainly on China). As is my girlfriend, whose father used to work in the military and the armed police. To the best of my understanding, the Party very, very systematically and carefully disarmed the Chinese population immediately after 1949. (Actually quite a remarkable achievement given that China in 1911 - 1949 was absolutely awash with arms.)


Check the figures for Japan. That is really low.

Fritz Fischer

Germans are generally unaware that Germany has in international comparison quite liberal gun laws. Of course not as liberal as the US, but the number speak volumes. Germany (and Austria) are also home to án remarkable cluster of very succesfull small arms manufacturers from Glock, Sig Sauer, Walther, HK and the list goes on.

As a German I am continually embarassed by anti-american morons that spout nonsense factoids about guns and law suits and don't seem to know their own country.

Thank you for your blog Andrew


Hunting has really been popular in France since the abolition of privileges in 1789: there are currently 1,3 millions licenced hunters in France, against about 350.000 in Germany, and each usually owns at the very least one hunting rifle, which is not so handy when it comes to commit a homicide, it seems. Or how can the much higher rate of homicides by guns in Germany be explained?


Could you tell us a little bit about what you consider "sensible regulations"? Usually the discussion is quite black and white, so a more differentiated take would be nice.

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