Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact: U.S. has more gun deaths than other large countries

The statement

"When we look at the number of murders in the United States (in) 2009, we had 9,500 people murdered. When we look around the world, we see … large countries, the U.K., Germany, Japan, had 200 or less killed in a year."

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Jan. 11, on MSNBC

The ruling

After the attack by a gunman in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 14 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., some politicians and pundits brought up the issue of whether stricter gun control was needed.

One of the lawmakers advocating tighter gun laws was Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who is preparing legislation to ban high-capacity gun clips such as the ones used in the Tucson attack.

In an MSNBC interview, he said: "But the fact of the matter is, when we look at the number of murders in the United States, 2009, we had 9,500 people murdered. When we look around the world, we see large companies — large countries, the U.K., Germany, Japan had 200 or less killed in a year."

We wondered whether his statistics were correct. (Lautenberg said "murders," but the context of the interview makes it clear he meant murders by guns.)

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for 2009 list 10,224 homicides that involved a gun. So by this count, Lautenberg's number was a little low.

Mamoru Suzuki of Japan's National Research Institute of Police Science e-mailed us that there were seven gun murders in Japan during 2009.

For the United Kingdom and Germany, we had to extrapolate, taking firearm murder rates per 1,000 people, then, using population statistics, calculate the number of firearm murders. The data, from a United Nations survey of crime trends, cover 1998 to 2000, the most recent available for firearms deaths.

We found that the United Kingdom had 63 firearm murders, and Germany had 381. Experts we consulted said the figures sounded about right.

So, Japan and the United Kingdom were well within Lautenberg's stated threshold of 200 murders per year. Germany's total exceeded that threshold, but it still represented less than 4 percent of the number of killings in the United States in 2009.

Lautenberg's number of killings didn't take into account population, which can be a significant factor. But the differences are so great that it doesn't change the comparison very much.

Lautenberg, while a little low in his estimate of firearm homicides in the United States, was accurate about Japan and the United Kingdom. And Germany's number was over 200, but still lower than the United States. So we rate his claim Mostly True.

Edited for print. For more, go to

PolitiFact: U.S. has more gun deaths than other large countries 01/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 9:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. HomeTeam 100: Players 1-10


    When he's not holding things down on the O-line, Nicholas Petit-Frere is holding his own in the classroom with a 3.7 grade-point average. (Andres Leiva, Times)
  2. HomeTeam 100: Football's a slam dunk for Nicholas Petit-Frere


    Berkeley Prep senior Nicholas Petit-Frere is one of the nation's most coveted offensive tackle recruits in the class of 2018. (Andres Leiva, Times)
  3. White House wants 'thorough investigation into fired IT staffer who worked for Wasserman Schultz


    The White House press secretary called for a "thorough investigation" into a fired information technology staffer who worked for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.
  4. Bucs have reached that crossroads



    Welcome to the proving ground.

    Bucs training camp begins today.

    Hard Knocks and flop sweat.

    Work and more work.

    The Bucs are competing against recent history.

    That history is going on 10 seasons.

  5. Father charged after baby dies in 109-degree Largo trailer


    LARGO — The father of an 8-month-old boy faces charges after the child died Thursday due to extreme heat in a mobile home bedroom.

    William Francis Hendrickson, 25, faces charges in the death of a child in Largo. He was arrested on July 28, 2017. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]