The World’s Most Armed Country

We all know about the big arms race during the Cold War and the drain it was on the economies of especially the former socialist bloc. While the United States continues to be the dominant military power, it is not a surprise that it is also the most armed country as far as the civilian population is concerned. India comes a distant second. The cause of the rising per capita arms is attributed to…rising affluence!

The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world, a report released on Tuesday said.

U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies.

About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States, it said.

“There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per 10 people,” it said.

India had the world’s second-largest civilian gun arsenal, with an estimated 46 million firearms outside law enforcement and the military, though this represented just four guns per 100 people there. China, ranked third with 40 million privately held guns, had 3 firearms per 100 people.

Germany, France, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil and Russia were next in the ranking of country’s overall civilian gun arsenals.

On a per-capita basis, Yemen had the second most heavily armed citizenry behind the United States, with 61 guns per 100 people, followed by Finland with 56, Switzerland with 46, Iraq with 39 and Serbia with 38.

France, Canada, Sweden, Austria and Germany were next, each with about 30 guns per 100 people, while many poorer countries often associated with violence ranked much lower. Nigeria, for instance, had just one gun per 100 people.

“Firearms are very unevenly distributed around the world. The image we have of certain regions such as Africa or Latin America being awash with weapons — these images are certainly misleading,” Small Arms Survey director Keith Krause said.

“Weapons ownership may be correlated with rising levels of wealth, and that means we need to think about future demand in parts of the world where economic growth is giving people larger disposable income,” he told a Geneva news conference.

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bhupinder singh

reader, mainly and an occasional blogger

4 thoughts on “The World’s Most Armed Country”

  1. interesting indeed
    and what does this all (social) arms usage reflects in the societies? most notably the indian and the american?
    and did they calculate the number of illegal arms in india? i guess, the ratio would have been very different then!

  2. There is a skewed perspective in the usage of this monolithic word ‘Firearms’. Several if not most of the firearms owned by civilians are hunting rifles. For instance in Upper Michigan and several areas in the US, deer hunting is almost a culture/ tradition / ritual that people indulge during the hunting season and a lot of folks there might own guns. They take a lot of pride in hunting one deer, preparing the meat , etc and hunting supplies is almost an industry. That doesn’t make these civilians ‘armed’ in the political sense of the term!!

    – So if we reclassify this term firearm what would the statistics be?
    – Again I would like to see some more statistics on which country has more illegal firearms than legally owned and accounted for?

  3. Amazing thing is that places that one would normally associate with freely floating weapons- Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Colombia/ other Latin American countries are absent in the list of high per capita count. Either something is grossly wrong with the method of the survey or there is a big gap between perception and reality. I am inclined towards the latter.

    In case of India at least, the count would certainly be far higher if the illegal arms are counted as well. As for the American case, it is as much because of lax gun control laws as people taking ‘pride’ in hunting, certainly a practice not exactly encouraged in most countries- ‘civilised’ or not.

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