Gun violence in American cities exceeds the rates in third-world countries

Map compares gun murder rates of American cities versus third world nations. And it ain’t pretty. Most large cities have higher murder rates than most third world nations. (map courtesy Atlantic Cities)

No matter how tired we might be of hearing about the rampant American gun culture there should be no let up. Not until the staggering stupidity of it all is ingrained into the majority of people’s minds. As President Obama has said, “We can’t put this off any longer.” Maybe Newtown was a tipping point. We can only hope. But hope is not enough; we need action. And if the President of the United States cannot get action this time then the opportunity for change is DOA, so to speak.

The numbers don’t lie

Some U.S. cities have gun homicide rates in line with the most deadly nations in the world and yet, the NRA and a small minority say that guns aren’t the problem and hold the majority of citizens hostage to the Second Amendment. Look at some of these numbers (from Richard Florida – see below*) and think about it. In fact, don’t just think, do something. Write your elected officials (they’re easy to find online: municipal, state and federal), send these numbers (cut and paste) and demand change. Just do it!

  • 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.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

For millions, it has become a matter of living with the fear of gun violence and, as a last resort, buy a gun and hope the day doesn’t come that you have to play Dirty Harry – not something that is likely to “make your day.” We have a choice, start packing or move!

Our future immigration problem might not be immigrants coming to America rather it could be Americans migrating – fleeing – from our third-world cities to the green, green grass of pastoral settings. Even Canada. Except rumor has it the US is thinking of resurrecting an old idea of building a fence on parts of the US-Canada border – no kidding (see earlier blog: US to Build Canadian Border Fence). Maybe it’s to keep Americans in because there’s  not much migration going the other way.

Time to move?

So if it gets too violent in New Orleans or Detroit or Baltimore or New York, people can always move to Mexico or Argentina or El Salvador or Cambodia where the gun culture is not so crazy and out of hand. It’s a sad state of affairs and an issue within the affairs of state that only a non-violent, citizen uprising will overcome.


* Richard Florida is Co-Founder and Editor at Large at The Atlantic Cities. He’s also a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and Global Research Professor at New York University