I’m mostly interested in this because of some of the common talking points of the gun control debate.
Usually it is along the lines of this:
Pro Gun Control Side: Country X is much safer than the United States. Country X also has stricter gun laws than the United States. Therefore, stricter gun laws would make us safer.
Anti Gun Control Side: State Y (often Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont) is one of the safest states in the country. State Y has very liberal gun control laws. State Z is much more dangerous than State Y. State Z has more strict gun control laws than State Y. Therefore, more liberal gun laws would make us safer.
Ignoring the fact that there are many more variables to the problem of violent crime than whether a state has liberal or restrictive gun laws, I’m curious how the safest states in the United States actually compare to the safest countries outside the United States, because it never seems to occur to either side to ask that question.
Murder rate is often used as proxy for ‘crime risk’ so reasonable to quote but it isn’t the whole story. It’s just that murders besides being obviously the most serious are relatively more like likely to be reported (reported rape rates are heavily influenced by what proportion of such crimes are reported, potentially only a small % of them) and not as subject to differences in definition.
But measures of total crime often find the US rate lower than that in many other rich countries. An example is this link, but it’s a pretty common finding.
Anyway actual crime safety for a person isn’t only or even mainly a function of the general geographical area in which they live. It’s heavily influenced by where exactly they live and who they are and how they live. Whereas, gun control pro/con in the US is basically (on a rational basis, IMO) about a possible collective good by further restricting guns v a personal choice to manage one’s own risk of being a crime victim as one chooses. It’s not necessarily accepted that people’s rights to adjust to their own situation should be more thoroughly circumscribed if it can reduce (just) the murder rate some 0.1’s per 100k, and it’s clearly unrealistic IMO to think the effect could be way bigger than that in US conditions. The murder rate in the US from 1990’s to now has about halved, but with no real and pervasive difference in gun control (tighter in some places, looser in others, and the statistics have to be brutally tortured to confess any clear relationship between those two things).
And if you want to just look at homicide by firearms, this list by country can be compared to one of the columns in that first link above. Vermont is listed as 0.3 gun homicides per 100,000 population, which is lower than Italy (0.35) or Belgium (0.33), but much higher than many other countries (Germany = 0.07, UK = 0.06)
But it’s not very statistically meaningful. Vermont’s gun homicide rate for 2010 is 0.3 per 100,000, but that’s just 2 deaths / 626,000 people. I can’t find gun homicide numbers for other years, but this plot shows total homicide rate in 2008 was twice as high as 2010. If the same percentage was by guns, it would be 4 deaths, or 0.6 / 100,000.