Arizona shooting: US has lots of guns, but it's not alone

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona has brought renewed attention to the US 'gun culture' and gun violence – and the prevalence of guns in the country. In fact, the US has the largest number of civilian-owned guns in the world, both in raw number and relative to its total population, according to a 2007 report by Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based project that studies small arms and armed violence. But some countries aren't too far behind the US. Below are some of the countries with the largest civilian gun ownership rates in the world.

Frank Polich/Reuters/File
A customer inspects a 9mm handgun at Rink's Gun and Sport in the Chicago, suburb of Lockport, Illinois in this June 26, 2008 file photo.

1. Iraq

Low estimate: 28 guns per person

High estimate: 50 guns

There are an estimated 9.75 million guns in Iraq, although a lack of systematic gun registration – and general chaos surrounding the US invasion and war – hints that the number could be larger. The survey cites the illegal sale of military guns to civilians as a big problem there, also throwing a wrench into accurate estimates of gun ownership.

As early as 2003, civilian gun ownership was a concern in Iraq. A Monitor reporter then based in Iraq noted the phenomenon:

The availability of weapons to ordinary Iraqis, not just militias, is also a concern. In May, Paul Bremer, the top coalition official here, decided to allow Iraqis to keep AK-47s, with the stipulation that they confine them to their home. But that provision has proven almost impossible to enforce, and gun-toting toughs are now a regular feature on the streets of most of Iraq's cities.

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