Society: Luxembourg has the lowest rate of civilian gun ownership among neighbouring countries, but the 41st highest ratio worldwide, Swiss researchers have reported.
With gun violence in the news--following the mass shooting deaths of 26 people, including 20 six- and seven-year-olds in Connecticut--many in the US are reflecting on the high number of firearms in the country. But what about Luxembourg?
In 2008, the US experienced 2.98 firearm homicides per 100,000, while the Grand Duchy experienced 0.41, according to GunPolicy.org, a website run by the University of Sydney and which is funded, among others, by the Dutch and Swiss foreign ministries.
Gun ownership rankings
Despite appearing, in a Swiss academic study, among the top quarter of gun possessing nations, Luxembourg residents hold nearly six-times fewer arms per capita than Americans.
In the most recently available figures, the Grand Duchy had an average of 15.3 civilian firearms per 100 people, according to the 2007 Small Arms Survey published by the Graduate Institute of International and Developmental Studies in Geneva, which covered 178 countries.
That placed Luxembourg just behind 40th ranked Libya (15.5 firearms per 100 people) and 39th placed Thailand (15.6), and just ahead of 42nd ranked Australia and Mexico (15.0 each).
By comparison, France placed 12th (with 31.2 guns per 100 residents), Germany tied with Iceland at number 15 (30.3), and Belgium ranked 34th worldwide (17.2).
“Civilian is used here to refer to actual possession, not legality,” the study’s authors noted.
High rates of firearm ownership
The top three countries worldwide were the US (88.8), Yemen (54.8) and Switzerland (45.7).
Other Anglophone and Scandinavian nations also scored highly on gun ownership. Canada had the 13th highest rate (30.8), New Zealand was 22nd (22.6), Northern Ireland was 25th (21.9), Ireland tied with Albania at 70th (8.6), England and Wales were 88th (6.2) and Scotland was 93rd (5.5).
Finland was 4th globally (45.3), Sweden was 10th (31.6), Norway 11th (31.3) while Denmark was still in the upper-third at number 54 (12.0).
That means Danes have more guns than 57th ranked Pakistanis (11.6), 66th placed Somalis (9.1) and 77th placed Nicaraguans (7.7).
Afghanistan, Taiwan and Zimbabwe tied at 106th (4.4), while the Netherlands tied with Syria at 112 (3.9).
At the bottom of the global scale were Singapore at number 169 (0.5), Ethiopia, Ghana and Solomon Islands, which tied at 174th place (0.4), East Timor at 177th (0.3), and Tunisia, which was 178th (0.1).
GDP could be a factor in ownership rates. “Available data suggests positive correlation, albeit not necessarily causation, between wealth and gun ownership,” the institute said in a separate 2011 report.
In addition to searching official registration records, the institute examined local expert estimates, household surveys and “proxy indicators” such as “the proportion of suicides committed with firearms”.
However, the researchers warned that their figures were not entirely reliable. “Poor record-keeping and the near absence of reporting requirements for detailed information complicate assessments of global stockpiles of small arms and light weapons” and that the estimates “should be used with caution.”
Photo is of Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd’s statue in New York, which was donated to the UN by Luxembourg in 1988.