Liechtenstein: the most gun-violent country in the world?

Just to show how much fun it is to manipulate statistics for one’s own purpose, according to the Guardian, Liechtenstein has the highest percentage of homicides by firearm in the world.

Yes, you read that correctly, the Principality of Liechtenstein[1]. How can this be? How is tiny little Liechtenstein so violent that it topped the list? One poor soul was gunned down in the data collection period, the only homicide that was recorded. Statistics are wonderful. You present the parts you want with big graphs and then leave the rest in footnotes no one reads.

Of course, this statistic is unfair and misrepresentative. According to the U.S. State Department:

Liechtenstein has a low crime rate. You should be careful on trains, especially on overnight trains to neighboring countries. Thieves, who steal from passengers while they sleep, can enter even locked sleeping compartments. Thieves have been known to work in pairs to target train passengers; while one member of the pair creates a diversion at a train window or on a platform, the other steals items you have left briefly unattended.

So what is the point I am trying to make by all this? None in particular, just throwing out a post title for Google to index. Someone will see it in a search result and do a double-take. Liechtenstein violent? No! Really? Then they will read this little screed and curse me for wasting their time. If it causes anyone to be a statistic skeptic, then I have made my point.


[1] My apologies to H.S.H. Prince Hans-Adam II, H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois, and the citizens of his this beautiful nation. It is not my intention to besmirch the reputation of their homeland. Conversely, I want to bring positive attention to it.

Liechtenstein has a total area of 61 square miles and a population of ±36,000 people. By comparison, Decatur, Alabama, which is 64.9 square miles and a population of ±55,000, had three murders in that same year. I wasn’t able to determine how many of the three murders were committed with a firearm, but I would feel safe in assuming all of them. Having grown up in the area, I consider Decatur a fairly safe town, with a few neighborhoods to avoid. Other than the Old State Bank, there’s not a lot to see in Decatur and unlike Liechtenstein, it isn’t wedged between Switzerland and Austria in some of the most beautiful country in Europe. I’m sure there are better towns to contrast Liechtenstein to, but I am going with what I know.

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