Look Left, Look Right, Look at 100 People Around You and There Are Guns for 90 of Them
posted by Deven Desai
A new study shows that the U.S. has 90 guns per 100 people. Let me say that again 90 per 100. That makes us the most armed country in the world. As Reuters reports there are other ways to think about firearm ownership: People in the U.S. own 270 million of 875 million arms in the world and of about 8 million firearms made each year, 4.5 million are bought in the U.S. Leaving aside the whole gun control question, exactly what are Americans worried about? I mean that is a large amount of guns. Do these people know something the rest of us don’t? Furthermore, I am fairly certain that the people I tend to encounter do not own arms. Maybe I need to get out more and meet some new people (likely a true statement), but really who owns all these guns? My guess is that a gun owner in the U.S. tends to own several guns rather than just one. If so, are there a whole bunch of people packing concealed heat? Or perhaps there are enclaves where Cold War-style bunkers are filled to the brim with arms. All jest aside the report shows that some of the presumptions about firearm ownership may be off.
For example, Yemen (61/100) is second to the U.S. on a per capita basis and Finland (54/100) is third. Finland? I suppose Russia next door is something to worry about but still. The article notes that the perception that many poor countries are armed and violent is misleading. As the director of the Survey noted “Firearms are very unevenly distributed around the world. The image we have of certain regions such as Africa or Latin America being awash with weapons — these images are certainly misleading.” In fact the director pointed out that there is a correlation between wealth and firearm ownership. So it may be that as countries develop the demand for and acquisition of firearms in those countries may increase. (Oh yeah, new markets!) Last, the numbers about the recent increase in overall firearm quantity and lack of registration are impressive if not chilling. Five years ago there were about 640 million firearms, now there are 875 million. In addition, of the current 875 million firearms, about 650 million are in civilian hands and only around 12 percent are registered.
I’d like to say more on the topic, but the last shootout in Mr. and Mrs. Smith is on and man, it has some booms. The Blues Brothers riff (Girl From Ipanema playing in the elevator while mayhem awaits outside) mixed with the pseudo-Butch Cassidy ending — the shed in the Costco-style warehouse instead of South America, a battle that has a complete array of weapons from knives to handguns, shotguns, machine guns, and a grenade launcher, and all to Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros’ “Mondo Bongo” as Brad and Angelina survive the absurd odds (can’t kill heroes in modern film) — is just too cool.