In U.N. Maps Show U.S. High in Gun Ownership, Low in Homicides, A.W.R. Hawkins presents the following two maps:
From these he concludes:
Notice the correlation between high gun ownership and lower homicide rates.
As these maps show, “more guns, less crime” is true internationally as well as domestically.
The second map depicts homicides per 100,000 people. That’s the same yardstick used in Steven Pinker’s monumental new book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined. Pinker marshals massive amounts of data to show that over the long run, and at an accelerating pace, we are less inclined to harm one another. When you look at the data on a per capita basis, even the mass atrocities of the 20th century are local peaks along a steadily declining sawtooth trendline.
One of the most remarkable charts in the book ranks the 20 deadliest episodes in history. It’s adapted from Matthew White’s The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, and appears in a slightly different form in The New Scientist:
Ever heard of the An Lushan Revolt? Well, I hadn’t, but on a per capita basis it dwarfs the first World War.
Pinker says, in a nutshell, that we’re steadily becoming more civilized, and that data about our growing reluctance to kill or harm one another show that. The trend marches through history and spans the globe. There’s regional variation, of course. A couple of charts show the U.S. to be about 5x more violent than Canada and the U.K. But there isn’t one that ranks the U.S. in a world context. So A.W.R. Hawkins’ map of homicide rates got my attention.
The U.S. has the most guns, the first chart says. And it’s one of the safest countries, the second chart says. But that second map doesn’t tell us:
Where does the U.S. rank?
How many countries are in the red, pink, yellow, and green categories?
Which countries are in those categories?
How do countries rank within those categories?
Here’s another way to visualize the data:
There are a lot of countries mashed together in that green zone. And after Cuba we’re the most violent of them. Five homicides per 100,000 isn’t a number to boast about.