Gun crime in the USA? Get the real picture here.

Despite the worrying reputation for gun crime, the average tourist will not encounter guns, apart from the usual law enforcement and security officers like you see in any country.

Some people assume everyone walks around with guns in America. Not true. Nor are there gang shootouts on every street corner (stop watching bad cop shows on TV).

For the most part, the people who own or carry guns legally aren't the problem. It's the criminals with illegal weapons that pose the most threat, and that's only a concern to travellers because there are so many illegal guns out there.

First a few statistics:

  • In 2016, U.S. gun manufacturers cranked out 11 million weapons. Some estimates now claim there are more guns than people in this country.

  • On average, more than 33,900 Americans die from gun violence every year (including suicide). That’s about how many people die in car accidents on our streets and highways annually.

  • According to Gun Violence Archive, there were 447 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2016 (increase of 147 on 2015) in which four or more people were wounded and/or killed (not including the shooter).

  • Forty percent of the guns sold in the U.S. are done without a background check, via online sales and gun shows.

Illegal guns

As of 2015, Americans owned about 357 million firearms, with 100 million being handguns. Each year, however, tens of thousands more illegal guns circulate around the U.S.

The states exporting the highest number of illegal guns are currently West Virginia and Mississippi. Over 15 percent of West Virginia's guns are recovered during a crime two years or sooner after the initial sale. For Mississippi, this number is 17.4 percent. The states importing the greatest numbers of illegal guns are Florida and California.

Should I be scared of a mass shooting?

In a word: No. While high-profile mass shootings have fed public fears and stoked media frenzies, the statistical likelihood of being killed in a mass shooting is ridiculously small. Winning-the-Powerball-lottery small. You-have-a-better-chance-of-being-struck-by-lightning small. According to a Princeton University source, you have a .00000143 percent chance of being killed in a mass shooting.

Still, people do get struck by lightning, so Homeland Security has published some advice on how to prepare for an active-shooter emergency:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.

  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.

In the event of an actual shooting:

  • If you’re in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.

  • Silence your cell phone.

  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so.

  • Only as a last resort should you attempt to take a shooter down.

  • When evacuating, leave your belongings behind.

  • Follow police instructions.

  • Keep your hands visible and empty.

10 Most Dangerous U.S cities

Graceland gets 600,000 visitors annually, why would you miss out on visiting the King?

Based on the violent crime rate, the FBI reported the 10 most dangerous cities in the United States in 2016 were:

  • Detroit, MI

  • St. Louis, MO
  • Memphis, TN

  • Baltimore, MD

  • Rockford, IL

  • Kansas City, MO
  • Cleveland, OH

  • Milwaukee, WI

  • Little Rock, AR

  • Oakland, CA

Of course this list should be viewed with a bit of perspective. The chances of being randomly targeted remain slim, but if you stroll into the wrong neighborhood or walk on the wrong block, your risk of getting caught in the crossfire of drug and poverty-fuelled violence may rise.

Every place has its good and bad areas. Take Oakland: It’s no. 10 on the list, but the Bay Area city is in the midst of a renaissance, with hip bars and restaurants opening on a regular basis. And are you really going to let some wonky stats keep you from going to Memphis and seeing Graceland? 

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  • Robert said

    Damnit, HOW do I order one of those signs to hang on my front door?

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