Gun violence is an ongoing concern all over the world, even in the world's safest countries—even, in fact, in countries where guns are illegal (though admittedly to a lesser degree). The rate of gun deaths per country varies widely, from 39.2 per 100k residents in El Salvador to roughly 1 in a million in Singapore, and is heavily influenced by the rate of civilian gun ownership per country and by each nation's gun control laws. Gun violence rates are realted to rates of violent crime, but do not necessarily move in parallel.
Gun violence is particularly prevalent in many South American and Central American countries, due to either civil unrest or drug cartels, which battle both law enforcement agencies and one another. It is also high in several developing countries in Africa and the Middle East. Finally, gun violence is considered an epidemic in the United States, which leads the world in mass shootings and has the highest levels of gun violence of any developed country by a wide margin.
Top 10 Countries with the most Total Gun Deaths, 2016
|Rank||Country||Total Gun Deaths||Homicides||Suicides||Unintentional|
While it is helpful to know a country's total number of gun deaths, it is vital to realize that different countries reach their totals in different ways and for different reasons. For example, the overwhelming majority of gun-related deaths in Brazil are homicides, typically a symptom of the country's rampant drug trade. By comparison, nearly two out of every three gun deaths in the United States is a suicide. Meanwhile, Guatemala owns the world's highest rate of unintentional/accidental gun deaths (see full data at page bottom).
More importantly, total numbers do not indicate the overall frequency of firearm-related deaths in a given country. To achieve a more accurate representation of the true level of gun violence in a given country, the total deaths must be divided from the total population of that country. This value is typically expressed in terms of the number of deaths per 100,000 residents. It is also often age-standardized, which is a process that takes into account the relative age of a country's population when computing the frequency of deaths (for example, a younger population may have the same rate of gun attacks, but a lower rate of fatalities than an older population).
Finally, the per-100k data for countries with smaller populations can be disproportionately impacted by small variations in the number of gun deaths from one year to the next. For example, a difference of just 13 fewer deaths per year in a heavily populated country such as the United States (323.1 million people in 2016) would have practically zero impact on its per-100k rate. However, 13 fewer gun-related deaths in Greenland (56,186 people in 2016) would have resulted in the country leading the world in gun safety instead of rubbing elbows with countries that post some of the highest murder rates in the world.
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Rate of Gun Deaths (per 100k residents, 2016)
|Country||Total Deaths||Per 100k residents|
|United States Virgin Islands||23||21.3|