Who owns the world’s guns? Spoiler: it’s no surprise

Digital Originals

Gun graphic by Viet EDC for the Noun Project.

Of the 1 billion guns in the world, more than 85 percent are in civilian hands, and of those, nearly 46 percent are in the United States alone, according to the Small Arms Survey at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

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This means that 4 out of 10 firearms in the world are currently in the hands of civilians in the United States, more than in the other top 25 countries combined. Put another way, the U.S. makes up 4 percent of the world population but it’s civilians have 40 percent of the world’s firearms, the Small Arms Survey said.

There are more guns than people in the U.S. – for every 100 U.S. residents, there are 121 firearms. Compare that to other high-gun-holding nations: 53 guns for every 100 people in Yemen, 39 in Montenegro and Serbia, and 35 in Canada and Uruguay. Compare that to Indonesia or Japan, which has less than one gun for every 100 people, the Small Arms Survey said.

The sheer number of guns in the U.S. correlates to the rate of gun deaths in the country.

In the wake of last week’s deadly mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, U.S. President Joe Biden and many pro-gun regulation groups have compared gun deaths in the United States with other nations around the world.

The numbers are telling. Among 64 developed nations, the U.S. had the highest rate of gun homicides at four per 100,000 people. That’s 22 times more than the rate in the European Union, and 23 times more than in Australia, according to the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation.

And those are just homicides.

When looking at all gun-related deaths, the U.S. saw 37,200 deaths in 2016. The only country in the world with a higher number was Brazil at 43,200, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2016 Injury Collaborators.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has only risen. The latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that the U.S. saw 45,222 gun-related deaths in 2020.

Of those deaths, 53 percent, were suicides. That’s about 7.4 suicides by firearms for every 100,000 people. Worldwide, only Greenland has a higher rate of firearm-related suicide, a country with about 56,000 people or about .02 percent of the U.S. population.