Why do American Presidents get so many assassination attempts compared to other world leaders?

It does? News to me.

At present, out of the world’s nearly 200 constitutions, three still include a right to bear arms: Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States; of these three, only the last does not include explicit restrictive conditions.

While true, I can’t recall an assassination attempt by gun of a US President on foreign soil. There were the aforementioned grenade attempt on Bush, bomb attempts on Hoover and Bush the elder in Chile and Kuwait, and a knife attempt on Obama in Turkey.

Have there been any assassination attempts on US Presidents by guns not in the US?

ETA: Never mind. I see this point has been addressed thoroughly while I was considering

While the right to bear arms exists in many countries, the USA ranks first in the world in number of firearms per capita, followed by Serbia, Yemen, Switzerland, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Uruguay, Sweden, Norway. It is not the right to bear arms, but the fact of people bearing arms, that affects the employment of those arms.

Another factor is press freedom, which means a supposed threat to the president is much more likely to be brought to public attention in the USA, than in countries with a more guarded governance. For all we know, there are daily threats to the life of the president of some countries.

And, there is more than one way to kill a president. So far, only gunfire has been known to have been used to kill a US president. We also know that the historical accuracy of supposed assassination attempts of US presidents is abysmally lacking, and probably even more so in nearly every other country, so what comparative data is reliable?

My error. I realized as I was writing the post that I miscounted and changed the twenty-six to twenty-seven. But I forgot to change the other figure. It should be twenty-three out of twenty-seven.

Moderator Action

This seems more like a matter of opinion or debate than a factual question. Let’s give GD a shot. If there ends up not being enough debate on the topic, the mods there can kick it to IMHO.

Moving thread from GQ to GD.


Are you talking a leader of Russia, as opposed to the Soviet Union (i.e., semantics for purposes of this conversation)? Because, the leaders of the Soviet Union certainly were very well-known, nationally and internationally, and undoubtedly had extensive security.

IMO he’s quibbling that the real power in the SU was invested in somebody whose title wasn’t “President”.

There was a guy whose title was “President”. And although he was a bigwig compared to ordinary schlubs, he was well down in the rankings of the most powerful dudes in the SU. “President” was the job that went to second-raters who were innocuous enough to keep around without fear they’d become a serious rival to the real power center(s).

Consequently SU Presidents were neither at great risk of assassination, nor did they have obvious heavy security details protecting them.

The significance of this quibble is lost on me. But I *think *that’s what **psychonaut **is talking about.

Looking at it, seems to be a mix of worthies who retired a nice comfortable sinecure and occasionally the actual Soviet leader.

Sure … guns have their part … but let’s not forget Free Press …

If some wack-job wants his name in all the papers … is he going to take a swipe at the Swami el Grande of San Escobar … or a shot at the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES OF fucking AMERICA ???

I think a lot of it is because the US rolls Head of State and Head of Government into one role, while other countries split that two ways.

For example, the Head of State in the UK is Queen Elizabeth, while the head of government is Theresa May. So assassinating either one is not necessarily crippling- if you whack Liz, May & co. still go about their business running the country even if the titular ruler has been killed. If you whack Theresa, then Queen Elizabeth is still the queen and nominal ruler of the nation, and Parliament elects a new PM from within their own ranks.

The President rolls both roles into one position- he’s both the Head of State and the Chief Executive at the same time, AND is both roles to the most militarily and economically powerful nation in teh world, as well as a nation with extensive media coverage and what-not elsewhere in the world.

So it makes a lot bigger statement to try and whack the President than it does to whack a head of state or head of government in a nation that splits the duties, and this goes even more for less powerful nations.

I’m talking about both. Russia was one of the fifteen countries making up the Soviet Union. Each of these countries had a head of government and a head of state that were distinct from the head of government and head of state of the Soviet Union. Generally speaking, none of the heads of state/government of the fifteen countries were particularly well-known in their time.

But even many of the heads of state/government of the Soviet Union itself were fairly obscure. Stalin, for example, did not hold any official government position for much of his rule. The de jure heads of state/government during this time were people like Alexey Rykov and Nikolay Shvernik, who most people today (as indeed back then) had never heard of.

Humble secretary is enough for me. I exist only to [del]off[/del] serve other people.

That’s right.

Not really. There was no President of the Soviet Union or President of Russia until shortly before the USSR dissolved. Prior to that, there were heads of state, but they weren’t called “presidents”.

Well, that’s a bit too much of a blanket claim; things worked differently at different times. For much of the Brezhnev era, for instance, the USSR practised collective leadership, with the heads of state and of government exercising enough real power that Brezhnev (who himself held no important government office, but was only leader of the party) couldn’t act unilaterally. Nonetheless it was probably Brezhnev, being the public face of the USSR, who got the tightest security. (And there was indeed an assassination attempt against him in 1969.)

Well, to begin with, there are errors in this initial analysis of the “problem.”

It does NOT require “weeks of planning and coordination between different law enforcement agencies for the POTUS to attend something like a college football game.” It’s actually only a relative few situations, primarily the ones with a lot of advanced notice of the details of the President’s itinerary, where all that extra security planning is done.

So far as I am aware, no one has conducted a thorough non-partisan, non-political investigation into the reasons for assassination attempts in all the nations of the world. Most of the time when the subject of even a single assassination comes up, it rapidly gets sidetracked, as every individual or group with an interest in blaming their “enemies” for the concern, leap to make the discussion all about their various pet issues.

My own guess, based on my estimation that human beings are generally the same everywhere, is that there are a lot of factors involved with this, if there is indeed any validity to the allegation at all. Some of it it the accessibility of weapons; part of it is the amount of information available to would-be assassins, as to the location and vulnerability of their target; part of it might be that the United States is not a country which was built on a single national group, but instead was and is a constantly changing smorgasbord of unrelated cultures, competing for a sense of identity and of belonging at the same time; and so on.

Realize too, that there are periods of time where this or that nation goes through a number of assassination attempts, and then becomes relatively peaceful again. Leading up to the Russian Revolution in 1917, every Czar was attacked repeatedly as a matter of course.

Someone already mentioned the effect of communications, and the relative freedom of it here and there. That could factor in, in a number of ways. More nut cases have the opportunity to become convinced that killing the President will fix their problems; more careless blatherers will idiotically and irresponsibly call for the nut cases to act violently (we call that “radicalization,” when we DON’T like the blatherers); and freedom of travel, means an easier time for the nut cases to come to be in a place where they can act out their mental illness.

Did you do any per population evaluation in this. Sweden has had one Prime Minister assassinated, and Norway had a guy try to blow up the entire government. And that’s without the shiny lure of a combined head of state/head of government elected in person by the people which few European countries have.

If a crazy (or not so crazy) is unhappy with the acts of a European government he’s more likely to go after the specific person responsible, since only a few of them have the kind of power-structure where the head of government is so clearly responsible for everything done by underlings.

I certainly recall the attempts on Ford and Reagan, but do not recall attempts on either Bush, Clinton or Obama. Please fill me in.

I know a couple of guys jumped the fence at the White House and I’m discounting those. I also recall at Saddam wanted to kill Bush 41 and that was a major reason Bush 43 wanted to kill him, but I don’t recall any close calls.

To get to the OP question, the sheer availability of guns probably at least makes for more temptations.

They are outlined in the link. In short, George W Bush was the target of a grenade attack that failed due to luck and incompetence but could have worked, Ronald Gene Barbour plotted to kill Clinton while he was jogging but Clinton was away at the time and didn’t show up on the expected route (Barbour still went to prison for it). Another attempt on Clinton was a very real bridge bomb in the Philippines that the Secret Service averted by rerouting the motorcade due to a tip. Obama was targeted in Turkey and a letter laced with Ricin that were also averted.

Read the link for more. There are an amazing number of publicized attempts, probably even more unpublished ones and some very serious attempts that are largely forgotten today. Truman survived an attack by Puerto Rican nationalists in 1950 but one of his security guards was killed and two more were wounded. Gerald Ford survived two extremely close calls in 17 days (by women no less) when one gun misfired and the second missed because a bystander grabbed the would-be assassin’s hand at the last instant causing the bullet to slightly injure a nearby taxi driver.

The Secret Service doesn’t like to publicize assassination attempts much because it exposes weaknesses but some are so public that they have to provide some details.

He could become famous and go down in history… like, you know, what’s his name… the guy that shot a President… it wasn’t Lincoln or Kennedy, it was one of the other ones… Jeez, I used to know this stuff in school…

Now we can’t all be a historical superstar like John Wilkes Booth or Lee Harvey Oswald. It seems to help to have three decent names just for starters.

I don’t see Oliver Stone lining up to make a movie about Leon Czolgosz of McKinley assassination fame any time soon. Seriously? Leon something? Good luck to any school kids trying to spell that one on a quiz. If he wanted to make the big-time, he should have switched to a stage name.

how about, the US president is more accessible and approachable than some other countries leaders?