Russians have far fewer guns than Americans — and far more homicides.
There are fewer than 13 million firearms in circulation in Russia, compared with an estimated 300 million in the United States. That works out to about 9 guns per 100 people in Russia and closed to 100 guns per 100 people in America.
The most recent for Russia show that there were 21,603 killings in 2009.
According to the FBI, the United States had 13,636 homicides in 2009 with a population that is more than twice as large. More than 80 percent of those killings were gun-related.
It’s difficult to make a direct comparison of gun homicides in the two countries because Russia doesn’t break down its murder statistics.
Russian Gun Laws
Russia has tough gun laws on the books. It’s illegal for Russian citizens to own automatic and semi-automatic guns. It’s possible to apply for a handgun or shotgun license, though citizens are required to provide reasons such as hunting or target shooting.
Applicants face strict background checks, including criminal history, a full psychological evaluation and a medical exam. They must pass a test on firearm laws and safety.
Each weapon is then registered by the police during a home visit. Police take bullet patterns, test bullets and cartridges so bullets can be matched if the gun is used in a crime. A license lasts five years, after which applicants must go through the whole process again.
Initial reports that the gunman in Monday’s shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard used an AR-15 rifle may have been incorrect, CNN is reporting:
Federal law enforcement sources told CNN Tuesday that authorities have recovered three weapons from the scene of the mass shooting, including one — a shotgun — that investigators believe [shooter Aaron] Alexis brought in to the compound. The other two weapons, which sources say were handguns, may have been taken from guards at the Navy complex.
The sources, who have detailed knowledge of the investigation, cautioned that initial information that an AR-15 was used in the shootings may have been incorrect. It is believed that Alexis had rented an AR-15, but returned it before Monday morning’s shootings. Authorities are still investigating precisely how many weapons Alexis had access to and when.
The New York Daily News devoted its front page Tuesday to the supposed use of an AR-15, with the blaring headline “Same Gun Different Slay”:
The massacre pushed the AR-15 back into the gun-control debate. The weapon has been used in several other rampages that shocked the nation:
— Sandy Hook: Adam Lanza killed 26 people at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, with an AR-15 in December 2012.
— Aurora: Police say James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58 using an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns police recovered at the scene.
— Portland: Jacob Tyler Roberts stole an AR-15 and killed two people in a mall food court in December 2012.
— Santa Monica: John Zawahri allegedly pieced together an AR-15-type gun and went on a rampage that started at his father’s home and ended at Santa Monica College in June. Five people were killed.