Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America claims that:

the United States is not even in the top 10 when one compares international death rates resulting from mass shootings.

In California, gun control fails once again, USA Today, Nov 8, 2018

Does the evidence support or refute this claim?

  • 2
    Basically, when either side in the US uses numbers, they're cherrypicking to make their numbers look better.
    – phyrfox
    Nov 10, 2018 at 9:24
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    Deaths from mass shootings make the headlines, but the number of deaths from mass shootings is much much smaller than the number of deaths where one single person shoots one other single person. (And that number is half the number of deaths where one person uses a gun to kill themselves). But because it makes the headlines, people worry much more about getting killed in a mass shooting, when it's much more likely to be the single victim of a gun killer.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 11, 2018 at 2:24
  • Interesting point @gnasher729 , I would guess the distribution of #victims per assailant varies a lot by country. What’s your source?
    – A E
    Nov 11, 2018 at 17:27
  • For the USA: Just use google; about 30,000 gun deaths per year, about 10,000 not suicides, about 7,000 murder, plus accidents, plus "justified killing". I think the biggest mass shooting in recent times killed 55, you'd need 60 events like these every year to count for half the gun murders.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 13, 2018 at 23:26
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    @gnasher729 I'd not solely blame the headlines for the greater impact of mass shootings, they are merely a symptom themselves to mass shootings making better selling points as they seem more "egregious". That has probably multiple reasons: more people die in a single incident, but also - like (other) terrorism that the victim pool is rather random. It is easier to distance oneself from suicide and murder: For the first it would be your "decision", and the latter "only happens to those that meddle in criminal things". Plus the feeling of being powerless as a society is stronger. Nov 16, 2018 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


This NPR article puts it in perspective. Indeed, the US is not among the top gun-death countries in the world. However, when you look at the countries with higher death rates, you do not find any of the prosperous countries. They include countries like El Salvador, Columbia, Venezuela and other Latin American countries, as well as a few African countries. Middle Eastern countries (except Iraq), notorious for their internal conflicts, rank below the US.

Wikipedia lists a similar table, which breaks down how the shooting occurred. Unfortunately the page seems to have been put up by Gunpolicy.org so there may be biases there. These issues are listed at the top of the Wikipedia page. Gunpolicy lists the US as number 20, so their conclusion is similar to NPR's: yes, a lot of countries rank higher, but the US stands out among its peers; no prosperous country outranks the US; countries with living standards similar to the US all have much lower gun-death rates.

The same picture is shown at WorldAtlas: the US is at the top of the prosperous countries. Above it are mostly Latin American countries

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    I wonder if NPR article bothers putting the fact that "gun deaths" figure in USA they quote is 3x the real amount being implied if you don't count death by suicide, in its perspective?
    – user5341
    Nov 12, 2018 at 2:30
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    Gunpolicy gives all the figures. In this case, for 2016: 22,938 suicides out of 38,658 total gun deaths.
    – hdhondt
    Nov 12, 2018 at 5:15
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    -1 Why just control for money? Why not for criminal indicators that we know have a much more larger causality to crime, like race, or no father present in the household? It seems there is just much superfluity to this answer that is not helpful or you are trying to answer a different question.
    – user36356
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:51
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    Thanks for the downvote, @KDog. Which of your suggestions correlates to the excessive number of gun deaths in the US? Or are you claiming the US is not out of the ordinary?
    – hdhondt
    Nov 12, 2018 at 22:22

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