Talk to Me Like I Am Stupid: Understanding International Gun Ownership Rates

Yesterday I was having a discussion in comments about how American gun ownership rates compare to the rest of the world. Someone mentioned Canada and suggested it has higher gun ownership rates, but much less violence. I've heard something like that before. But when I went to look it up, I found that it isn't true at all


In 2007, America had 88 guns per hundred residents, nearly triple the Canadian rate of 30 guns per hundred residents. It's true that Canada is on the higher end of these countries, but it seems like Canada's natural peer is France, Denmark and Norway--all of whom have more, but are in the low 30s--not the United States.

Am I missing something in the data? Am I using the wrong metric? What do people mean when they cite Canada as a place with a lot of guns but low gun violence? Am I not citing the argument correctly? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

As with any TTMLIS please don't comment if your answer is just polemical, or if you just want to let us know about a cool book you read. I do like books, but let's keep on track.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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