While trying to educate myself by digging up statistics on violent crime, rather than just relying on opinion (mine and others') I discovered a startling fact: You're about half again more likely to be the victim of a violent crime in the UK than in the US. Doesn't that run counter to what most people think? Maybe it’s just me, but I somehow end up in lots of conversations where someone from the UK is smugly telling me how sad it is that I have to live in fear because of the prevalence of guns here in the US. And now it turns out that's not a very compelling stance. I mean, sure you're 63 times as likely to become a firearm casualty in the US (according to a source with undisclosed data), but overall, you're just less likely to be attacked. The culture or people or situation is more violent in the UK (well, England and Wales, actually -- The British Crime Survey is exclusive of Scotland and Ireland) than in the US.
According to the 2000 British Crime Survey, in 1999 there were 3,246,000 violent crimes. This comes to about .062 victimizations per capita. The most recent analog I could find for the US was from 1996. Document NCJ 167881 from the US Department of Justice stated that the complimentary statistic for the entire US is .042 per capita.
Now, I know that they're not from the same year, but tracking the previous years numbers suggests that it doesn't seem to change much. Those same reports suggest that violent crime in the UK is on the rise while in the US it is on the decline. But some more recent trend numbers show that the UK stats are now declining also (while their firearm homicides increase).
According to the CDC, 1998 saw 30,708 firearm-related deaths in the entire US. 17,605 of these were suicides. I'll allow that the 12,228 assaults and the 875 accidents that remain could be called a gun problem, so out of the roughly 275 million people in the US, .00476 percent were shot and killed. (Wow, that’s a small number!) And while I couldn’t find quote-worthy stats for the UK, I think we all accept that it is much lower in the UK.
Interestingly, mugging and burglary by unarmed people in the UK is much more likely to result in serious injury or death. (Maybe in the US we're more willing to let a criminal go with our watch and wallet because we expect him to be armed..?)