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A man holds a sign during a vigil outside Monterey Park City Hall, blocks from the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, on Jan. 24, 2023, in Monterey Park, Calif. (AP) A man holds a sign during a vigil outside Monterey Park City Hall, blocks from the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, on Jan. 24, 2023, in Monterey Park, Calif. (AP)

A man holds a sign during a vigil outside Monterey Park City Hall, blocks from the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, on Jan. 24, 2023, in Monterey Park, Calif. (AP)

Maria Ramirez Uribe
By Maria Ramirez Uribe January 25, 2023

Gavin Newsom is mostly right, the US gun homicide rate is 26 times higher than ‘peers’

If Your Time is short

  • The U.S. gun homicide rate is 26 times higher compared with 27 high-income countries, a data analysis from a gun advocacy group found.

  • This number can vary slightly based on what group of countries the U.S. is compared against. 

  • California is the state with the U.S.’ strongest gun safety laws, per the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. These include a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and broader restrictions over a person’s eligibility to own a gun. 

Two shootings. Three days. Eighteen people dead. California is reeling from two mass shootings: one in Monterey Park on Jan. 21 that killed 11 people, and another one in Half Moon Bay on Jan. 24 that killed seven. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., bemoaned the level of gun violence in the U.S. and blamed Republicans for opposing gun restrictions. 

"Every country struggles with mental illness. But the USA has a gun homicide rate 26 TIMES HIGHER than our peers," Newsom tweeted Jan. 23. "The difference is how the @GOP have bowed down to the gun industry. The difference is how easy it is to access to (sic) guns and high capacity magazines in our country."

We’ve heard similar claims before and wanted to check out Newsom’s statistic.

Newsom’s office directed us to a data analysis from the gun advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. The group, a project of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, compared gun homicide rates for 29 high-income countries and found the United States' rate is 26 times higher than the average of the other countries. Everytown used data from GunPolicy.org at the University of Sydney School of Public Health.

In 2019, the year used by Everytown, the U.S. had a gun homicide rate of 4.38 per 100,000 people. The next high-income country on the list was Chile, with a rate of less than 1 per 100,000. (The U.S. gun homicide rate rose to 5.9 in 2020, the Centers for Disease and Prevention reported.)

Mexico’s gun homicide rate is higher than the U.S.’, but the World Bank does not consider Mexico as high-income.

Other studies offer similar results as Everytown.

  • A 2019 study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine found the 2015 U.S. gun homicide rate was 25 times higher than other high-income countries.

  • A 2021 study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington found the U.S. gun homicide rate is 23 times higher than the entire European Union. 

The number varies based on what is considered a "high-income" country. Everytown selected countries that are considered high-income by the World Bank, are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and offer gun homicide data.

Altering the mix of countries examined doesn’t do much to change the point that the U.S. gun homicide rate is significantly higher than similarly situated peers. 

"There are many factors that explain why violence happens, why someone might be at risk of violence, and almost all of those factors are present in every other country," Ari Freilich, state policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence told PolitiFact, naming factors such as mental illness and exposure to violent movies and video games.

One difference is the availability of guns in the U.S. 

Americans owned around 393 million guns, according to a Small Arms Survey report by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. 

That’s about 1.2 guns per resident, the highest rate among 56 nations and territories surveyed. Yemen had the second highest rate at 0.53 guns per resident — less than half the U.S. rate. 

The Giffords Law Center says California is the state with the strictest gun safety laws in the U.S. These include a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and additional eligibility restrictions. California's gun death rate is the 44th lowest in the U.S. and is 37% lower than the country’s average. 

State laws intended to curb gun proliferation are sometimes undermined by federal court case decisions, laws in neighboring states and national gun safety laws.

Our ruling

Newsom tweeted "the USA has a gun homicide rate 26 times higher than our peers."

His figure checks out with 2019 data for high-income nations and gun deaths measured by Everytown for Gun Safety. This number can shift based on what countries count as the U.S.’ "peers,", but Newsom’s main point stands.

The statement is accurate but needs additional information. We rate this claim Mostly True. 

Our Sources

Tweet, Gavin Newsom, Jan. 23, 2023

Email exchange, Gavin Newsom spokesperson, Jan. 23, 2023

Phone interview, Ari Freilich, state policy director at The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Jan. 24, 2023

Phone interview, Sarah Burd-Sharps, senior director of research at Everytown, Jan. 25, 2023

Email exchange, Connie Kim, senior communications manager at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Jan. 24, 2023

Everytown For Gun Safety, The US gun homicide rate is 26 times that of other high-income countries, Nov. 1, 2022

GunPolicy.org, Armed violence and gun laws, country by country, accessed Jan. 24, 2023

GunPolicy.org, United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law, accessed Jan. 24, 2023

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Assault or Homicide, accessed Jan. 24, 2023

Preventive Medicine, Violent death rates in the US compared to those of the other high-income countries, 2015, June 2019

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, On gun violence, the United States is an outlier, May 31, 2022

PolitiFact, Gun homicides 22 times more frequent in U.S. than European Union, Dec. 2, 2022

Giffords Law Center, California Gun Laws, accessed Jan. 24, 2023

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Firearm Mortality by State, accessed Jan. 24, 2023

Giffords Law Center, Annual Gun Law Scorecard, accessed Jan. 24, 2023

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Gavin Newsom is mostly right, the US gun homicide rate is 26 times higher than ‘peers’

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