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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.