America is an exceptional country when it comes to guns. It’s one of the few countries in which the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected. But America’s relationship with guns is unique in another crucial way: Among developed nations, the US is far and away the most violent — in large part due to the easy access many Americans have to firearms. These charts and maps show what that violence looks like compared with the rest of the world, why it happens, and why it’s such a tough problem to fix.
1) America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany
This chart, compiled using United Nations data collected by Simon Rogers for the Guardian, shows that America far and away leads other developed countries when it comes to gun-related homicides. Why? Extensive reviews of the research by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center suggest the answer is pretty simple: The US is an outlier on gun violence because it has way more guns than other developed nations.
2) America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world
3) There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook
In December 2012, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 20 children, six adults, and himself. Since then, there have been at least 1,606 mass shootings, with at least 1,829 people killed and 6,447 wounded as of February 2018.
The counts come via the Gun Violence Archive, which has hosted a database that tracks mass shootings since 2013. But since some shootings go unreported, the database is likely missing some, as well as the details of some of the events.
The tracker uses a fairly broad definition of “mass shooting”: It includes not just shootings in which four or more people were murdered, but shootings in which four or more people were shot at all (excluding the shooter).
Even under this broad definition, it’s worth noting that mass shootings make up a tiny portion of America’s firearm deaths, which totaled more than 33,000 in 2014.