By Dean Weingarten
Whenever international comparisons of homicide rates are studied, you have to be sure to consider the Swiss. Not only does Switzerland have very low homicide rates, it has one of the highest levels of gun ownership in the world. A state of affairs that many consider related. As I attempted to find out what the gun homicide rate for Switzerland was, I ran into a curious phenomena. The most commonly quoted figures for gun homicides were for both gun homicides and attempted gun homicides. In one source . . .
This led to the startling conclusion that gun homicides for a given year were greater than the total number homicides. At the site gunpolicy.org, total homicides in Switzerland for 2009 is listed as 51. And the total gun homicides is 55.
It didn’t take too much research to figure out that what most writers are seeing is the composite figure for both attempted and fatal gun homicides. As the number of attempted gun homicides outnumbers the fatal gun homicides, this has a significant impact on the number of total gun homicides people use and on the rate of firearm homicides claimed in Switzerland.
In the runup to the referendum on gun control the Swiss held early in 2011, figures were published giving the actual number of gun homicides for the previous four years for which statistics were available, 2007-09. The number of attempted homicides with firearms was given for 2009, too.
Here are the numbers:
1998 — 53 homicides with firearms for a rate of .75/100,000
2007 — 27 homicides with firearms for a rate of .35/100,000
2008 — 20 homicides with firearms for a rate of .26/100,000
2009 — 24 homicides with firearms for a rate of .31/100,000
2009 — the number of attempted homicides with firearms was 31.
These are exceptionally low rates and they’re lower than those of Australia and Canada, both of which have much more restrictive gun control schemes. They are slightly higher than France and Sweden, though the overall homicide rate (Which, after all, is the more
important number) is slightly higher in those countries, again, with much more restrictive gun control.
Here is a link to the source for the actual number of homicides with firearms. Be sure to subtract the suicides with firearms from the total number of homicides and suicides with firearms to find the actual number of criminal fatal firearm homicides. Once again, a armed society is a more polite and peaceful society.
A version of this article originally appeared at Dean’s blog, Gun Watch.