Tuesday, 19 July 2011


When I was looking into sources for stats on gun ownership in different countries around the world, I was struck that Switzerland does in fact rank very high in the world, exactly as some defenders of US gun ownership claim. There are various sources for such statistics, and there may very well be some sources out there that contradict each other, and some may rank Switzerland higher than the US as far as gun ownership.

Some sources indicate that gun violence has escalated in Europe during the last two decades. Experts blame everything from waves of illegal immigrants to narcotics and other illegal activities, to high unemployment, rising socioeconomic gap and a value system rooted in self-indulgence and materialism.But what exactly accounts for the fact that the US with roughly 4% of the world's population has more school-killings than the entire world combined? Is there something in the legal system that is at fault, something in the enforcement system, or is it cultural and part of a history of gun violence that has deep roots. Why does Switzerland with high gun ownership not have similar statistics regarding gun violence as the US?

Interestingly, Switzerland has a population of around 6 million, and it seems that one-third are gun owners - 600,000 of whom own automatic riffles and 500,000 pistols, according to one source at least. Let us assume for the sake of argument that indeed this is the case - let even say that Switzerland has more weapons per capita than the US, how do we explain that Switzerland as a very low crime rate not according to US standards, but any standard in the world? In a previous posting I argued the only rational explanation is the deeply-rooted culture of violence in America that is absent in Switzerland.

As far as weapons ownership in private hands, in 2007 US population just under 5% of the world's population is estimated to own between 35 and 50% of the world's population. This is according to the SMALL ARMS SURVEY. The following chart list the top five gun-ownership countries in the world.

No.↓ Country↓ Guns per
100 residents↓
Year Comment
1  United States 90.0 2007
2  Yemen 61.0 2007
3  Switzerland 46.0 2007
4  Iraq 39.0 2007
5  Serbia 37.5 2007

US politicians use Switzerland as an example of a country that has 'liberal' gun laws, allowing those serving in the militia to own assault riffles. The UN International Firearms Regulation notes that homicide rates in the US involving firearms are among the highest in the world in comparison to Switzerland which is awash in firearms. The explanation may not rest with the firearms per se but with the culture of violence in the US v. Switzerland.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

America: home of the Huron.