How Many People Would Be Dead If Egypt Had Guns Like America?

Egypt, while full of rocks to heave, has very few guns. Imagine how many people would have been killed by now if Egyptians had guns like Americans.

Human rights groups are estimating the death toll in Egypt to be at around 300 after the protests there turned bloody on Wednesday morning. Anti-government demonstrators and their pro-Mubarak counterparts have been clashing throughout the nation, beating each other with rocks and sticks, and in some cases burning one another with firebombs. It’s a horribly bloody scene, and we have to wonder: How much worse would it have been if this had happened in America?

Guns are currently legal in Egypt. But obtaining a gun through legal means is difficult, complicated by a process requiring multiple background checks and fees. Besides that, the simple price of guns—hundreds of dollars on the low end—makes it an impractical purchase for most Egyptians, almost half of whom live on two dollars a day. Also, if this amateur petition is to be believed, for the poor to acquire gun licenses—even if they can afford a gun—is difficult if not impossible.

The end result is that Egypt isn’t very armed. There are now 1.9 million privately owned guns in Egypt, which amounts to just 3.5 for every 100 citizens.

Compare that to America. In the United States, there are about 89 guns per every 100 citizens, or 270 million private firearms in total. If Americans took to the streets in the numbers Egyptians have—an estimated five million in a nation of 80 million—that would find about 19 million people violently clashing with one another in cities around the country. That would also mean, if the averages hold true, that about 17 million guns would be at those protests, and that’s not even considering the firepower carried by the military and police forces.

Granted, it is unlikely, for a variety of reasons, that Americans would come to blows in public squares the way people are doing in Cairo and Alexandria. But one has to think that the death toll there would be markedly higher if those people were armed to the teeth like Americans.

photo (cc) via Flickr user Paul Keller