Guns don’t lower murder in Israel, Switzerland compared to U.S.

us_israel_swiss_bullets_flagsThe National Rifle Association and other gun rights organizations like to point to Israel and Switzerland as countries that because of their gun ownership have reduced crime. Unfortunately, the United States surpasses them in both gun ownership and gun murders leaving a gaping hole in their reasoning of an armed civilian population to reduce crime.

Mandatory military service

Gun enthusiasts are quick to point out that both Israel and Switzerland have compulsory military training for almost all young men. The U.S. went to an all volunteer armed services in 1973. Conscription into the military, gun activists cite, breeds familiarity and respect for firearms and helps to reduce gun violence. Of course, this doesn’t account for the record number of suicides the U.S. Armed Forces have seen in 2012.

The rate of murders, any type, per 100,000 people in the U.S., Israel and Switzerland.

The rate of murders, any type, per 100,000 people in the U.S., Israel and Switzerland.

It’s not over-crowding

It would seem only natural that Israel and Switzerland might have higher murder and gun violence rates based on their population statistics. Compared to the United States, they are trying to pack a whole lot of people in a tiny space. Estimates for 2012 show Israel with a population of 7.9 million people or 925 persons per square mile, while Switzerland records 8 million people at 477 persons per square mile. By contrast, the United States averages 87 persons per square mile with over 315 million people.

Number of gun related murders in U.S., Israel, and Switzerland per 100,000 people.

Number of gun related murders in U.S., Israel, and Switzerland per 100,000 people.

Does socialism lead to fewer murders?

The lack of gun violence in Israel and Switzerland probably has more to do with culture and government than gun ownership. Both Israel and Switzerland are tolerant of the variety of native languages that are spoken by their citizens. In the United States we mostly hear about denying immigrants the ability to speak in their native tongue. From U.S. government perspective, both Israel and Switzerland are both fairly socialistic. Israel and Switzerland each have universal healthcare and robust social safety nets that are actively trying to be cut in the United States.

Second amendment red herring

Oddly enough, neither Israel nor Switzerland has enshrined gun ownership rights into their government foundations. Israel doesn’t have a constitution but series of Basic Laws. Switzerland, in addition to having one of the first European constitutions, just completely updated it in 1999. No where in one the newest most modern constitutions in the world are gun rights mentioned. Both these countries sport lower gun deaths even with a lack of fundamental human right to gun ownership.

State of war has no bearing on civilian murders

Israel has been in a state war with its neighbors for decades and has battled terrorism on their soil for just as long. Even with the constant threat of terrorist attacks, Israel has one of the lowest gun ownership statistics among the three countries. Switzerland, on the other hand, has not been in a war since 1815 and is exceedingly proud of its longstanding position of neutrality in most armed conflicts and wars. The state of war within a country seems to have little influence gun murders in these countries as well.

Number of of gun owning citizens per 100 residents in U.S., Switzerland, and Israel.

Number of of gun owning citizens per 100 residents in U.S., Switzerland, and Israel.

Where does the paranoia for gun ownership come from?

The United States, by contrast, has virtually no terrorist threat compared to Israel and friendly neighbors, yet we have ten times the gun ownership of Israel and almost twice that of Switzerland. And for all our fire power and protection, we still have three to four times as many murders as those other countries. The final analysis refutes any correlation between gun ownership and reduced murder rates. All the evidence points to increased gun ownership increases the likelihood of increased murders. Those folks promoting gun rights need to recognize that neither Israel nor Switzerland are case studies that shows reduce murder through private gun ownership.

From PubMed citation

Gun utopias? Firearm access and ownership in Israel and Switzerland.

Rosenbaum JE.

Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


The 2011 attempted assassination of a US representative renewed the national gun control debate. Gun advocates claim mass-casualty events are mitigated and deterred with three policies: (a) permissive gun laws, (b) widespread gun ownership, (c) and encouragement of armed civilians who can intercept shooters. They cite Switzerland and Israel as exemplars. We evaluate these claims with analysis of International Crime Victimization Survey (ICVS) data and translation of laws and original source material. Swiss and Israeli laws limit firearm ownership and require permit renewal one to four times annually. ICVS analysis finds the United States has more firearms per capita and per household than either country. Switzerland and Israel curtail off-duty soldiers’ firearm access to prevent firearm deaths. Suicide among soldiers decreased by 40 per cent after the Israeli army’s 2006 reforms. Compared with the United States, Switzerland and Israel have lower gun ownership and stricter gun laws, and their policies discourage personal gun ownership.

White House Petition to tax guns and ammo for mental healthcare services petition to tax guns and ammo to support mental healthcare services

Facebook page supporting state and federal tax on guns and ammo

Total number of privately owned guns in the U.S., Switzerland, and Israel.

Total number of privately owned guns in the U.S., Switzerland, and Israel.




  • Frank Casanova

    I’ve come to the same conclusion. We Americans are a vicious bunch. Just look at our National Pasttime… and I don’t refer to Baseball. It’s blood & guts NFL Football. Those are the Gladiators and we are Rome. Our biggest threat is ourselves (as Pogo once said). Living in America, I feel I have a need to own a gun…to protect myself from crazy insane violent Americans. That was the lesson of Katrina. In the blink of an eye, we can be back in the 12th century with roving gangs…some of whom used to be the police.

    • Kevin Knauss

      What I find fascinating is the near hysteria that guns are a panacea to crime and that somehow gun ownership is an ordained right by God. Folks have been brain washed to believe that any prudent gun control is a nefarious step toward a total ban and confiscation. It is this twisted logic that compels me to write about the topic.

      I have no problem with people owning guns and I don’t want to see them banned or confiscated. However, gun ownership is a hobby and sport. Assault rifles need to be in the hands of trained individuals, not the closet of my neighbor.

      • Frank Casanova

        All true Kevin… Unlimited “Access” to guns is another thing (seemingly the NRA position). If you own a hammer… you want to use it and hit something… and everything begins to look like a nail. It become easier and easier to use the tool in situations not calling for the tool. Certainly, military style assault weapons have no place in the hands of civilians. These are not “hunting” guns. Where do we draw the line? Why can’t I have my Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher as my personal protection weapon of choice? The NRA has become a gun manufacturer’s lobby machine and therefore has absolutely no credibility. Again, it goes back to our “wild west” culture…and that will take a long time to change. Keep digging fresh graves.

  • The Truth Hurts

    How many blacks live in Switzerland? 95% of homicide victims in Chicago in the first half of last year were black(201) or hispacic(44).. 11 victims were white out of the first 259 murders…. It is safe to say that the perps in these cases fit the descriptions of their victims.. You are right, guns dont lower homicide rates. Less blacks and hispanics do…

    • Kevin Knauss

      It is not skin color that leads one to gun violence, but lack economic wealth. We can pick a variety of high crime spots, from past to present, which show gun violence associated with money and lack of jobs. Blacks die everyday in Chicago and we have never had the groundswell of support as we do today after 20 white children were killed.

      But the loner white guy that shoots up a movie theater or school has some similarities to the young black gang member in that they both feel oppressed. Perhaps for different reasons, but these guys who pull the trigger feel like they have nothing to lose and it is pay back time.