By Garth Kant
Those pushing President Obama’s gun-control agenda often portray the United States as one of the murder hot spots of the world, but the numbers tell a different story.
Even more revealing, gun murders in the U.S. are concentrated in big cities that typically have the strictest gun-control regulations. And it is those cities’ gun murder rates that are comparable to the rates in some of the deadliest countries in the world.
A United Nations 2010 chart lists the U.S. as having a murder rate of 5.22 per 100,000 people. The world average homicide rate: 9.63 per 100,000.
And 89 countries have higher murder rates than the U.S.
America is not even in the same league as the worst offenders. Honduras has a murder rate of 60.87 per 100,000. Jamaica 59.5. El Salvador 51.83. Guatemala 45.17. Colombia 40.1. Trinidad and Tobago 39.67 Angola 38.59. South Africa 36.54. Burundi 37.38 Lesotho 36.69 Zimbabwe 34.29. Belize 34.26.
The statistics on gun murders shed even more light.
The U.S. may have the highest level of gun ownership in the world, but its rate of gun homicides is only about three per 100,000.
Gun homicides in the United States are concentrated in major urban areas. And those cities, typically Democratic strongholds with the most stringent gun control laws in the nation, have gun murder rates that rival those of the most violent countries in the world.
Click here to see a map comparing the rate of gun murders in American cities to nations around the world. It uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other sources collated by The Guardian.
The data reveal these amazing comparisons:
If it were a country, New Orleans (with a rate 62.1 gun murders per 100,000 people) would rank second in the world.
Detroit’s gun-homicide rate (35.9) is just a bit less than El Salvador (39.9).
Baltimore’s rate (29.7) is not too far off that of Guatemala (34.8).
Gun murder in Newark (25.4) and Miami (23.7) is comparable to Colombia (27.1).
Washington D.C. (19) has a higher rate of gun homicide than Brazil (18.1).
Atlanta’s rate (17.2) is about the same as South Africa (17).
Cleveland (17.4) has a higher rate than the Dominican Republic (16.3).
Gun murder in Buffalo (16.5) is similar to Panama (16.2).
Houston’s rate (12.9) is slightly higher than Ecuador’s (12.7).
Gun homicide in Chicago (11.6) is similar to Guyana (11.5).
Phoenix’s rate (10.6) is slightly higher than Mexico (10).
Los Angeles (9.2) is comparable to the Philippines (8.9).
Boston rate (6.2) is higher than Nicaragua (5.9).
New York, where gun murders have declined to just four per 100,000, is still higher than Argentina (3).
Even the cities with the lowest homicide rates by American standards, like San Jose and Austin, compare to Albania and Cambodia, respectively.
It’s true those comparisons are American cities to nations. But most of the countries listed have relatively small populations, in many cases comparable to large U.S. metros.
Here’s a look at the gun-control laws in the five U.S. cities with the highest gun-murder rates.
In New Orleans, you have to apply to the state police office and take classes with the National Rifle Association, then wait 45-90 days to get a concealed weapons permit.
Detroit comes under tough state laws that require a multistage process to get a gun. First, you must pass the Michigan Basic Pistol Safety questionnaire. Then you have to apply for the Ten Day Handgun Purchase Permit. (If you don’t buy the exact gun you applied for, you have to start the process all over.) After buying the gun, you have to fill out a Michigan Pistol Sales Record form and make sure the pistol has a valid firearm Safety Inspection Certificate. Federal laws also require a background check if you purchase a gun from a licensed dealer with a Federal Firearms License.
Maryland law governs Baltimore gun owners. The state prohibits the sale of handguns and many high-powered weapons without background checks. Magazines that hold more than 20 rounds are illegal.
Newark is in a state that already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, and they may get stricter. The New Jersey state assembly passed a series of measures on February 21. One bill would limit the size of magazines to 10 shells from the current 15. Others would outlaw .50 caliber weapons, create weapon-free school zones, require background checks for private gun sales and require safety training for people seeking firearm purchase permits. The state Senate and Gov. Chris Christie would have to approve the changes.
Florida law requires citizens in Miami wait three days before a handgun purchase.
Firearms-rights supporters point to the high rates of gun murders where tight gun-control laws are in effect. Dave Workman of the Second Amendment Foundation says the belief in the firearms community is those laws mean people simply can’t protect themselves and criminals know it.
He says, “Criminals realize victims are far less likely to fight back. There’s no deterrent factor.”
Gun-control measures proposed by President Obama in January could reduce that deterrent factor even more.
Obama is pressing Congress to pass laws that would ban so-called “assault weapons” and magazines with more than 10 rounds, expand background checks, toughen gun-trafficking laws, and require criminal background checks for all gun sales.