…lots and lots of them.
A recent survey finds the obvious: Americans own a helluva lot more guns than residents of other countries. Yet the Small Arms Survey 2003, the findings of which were released at a UN confab on the topic, included some surprises, reports the AP:
The country with the second-highest gun ownership is Yemen, with between 33 and 50 firearms per 100 people, followed by Finland with 39 per 100, the new survey said.
"Contrary to the common assumption that Europeans are virtually unarmed, the 15 countries of the European Union have an estimated 84 million firearms. Of that 67 million (80 percent) are in civilian hands," the survey said. With a total population of 375 million people, this amounts to 17.4 guns for every 100 people.
[The survey] also said there probably are no more than 30 million firearms among civilians, insurgents and governments of the 44 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
"This is enough guns to perpetuate fighting in many countries and raise the danger of criminal violence in many others, but it is not enough to render the situation totally beyond hope," the survey said.
Check out Joyce Malcolm's November 2002 Reason cover story on gun control's effect in England before buying the line that the number of weapons in circulation is an indicator of violent crime (it's the distribution of weapons that's more likely to matter).
And check out this (slightly outdated) archive page of our gun coverage for more background. And don't forget that, as William Burroughs and others have observerd, an armed society is a polite society.