On Thursday, President Barack Obama said the biggest frustration of his time in office was his failure to pass new restrictions on guns. Hours later, a gunman opened fire on a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater, reportedly killing three, including himself, and wounding nine others.
Obama made the comments to BBC's North America editor, Jon Sopel: "If you ask where has been me the one area where I feel that I've been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient, common-sense gun safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings."
This isn't the first time Obama has said this. He made the same comment last year during a Q&A with Tumblr's CEO. After the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine dead, Obama reiterated his frustration: "I've had to make statements like this too many times." He added, "Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun."
Obama is right that America is a huge outlier among developed countries on guns: It has way more firearms than any other developed nation, and way more gun-related homicides, as well.
Gun violence is much more common in America than in its developed peers
Gun violence happens at a significantly higher rather in the US than other advanced countries. This chart, compiled using United Nations data collected by the Guardian's Simon Rogers, shows that America leads Australia, New Zealand, and several European nations when it comes to gun-related homicides:
But why does the US have so many more gun homicides than other advanced countries? One possible explanation: Americans are much more likely to own guns than their peers around the world. And the empirical research shows places with more guns have more homicides.
Criminal justice experts widely recognize this is a result of cultural and policy decisions that have made firearms far more available in America than in most of the world — and likely caused more deaths as a result.