U.S. Gun Violence Seen as Major Problem Around the World
This article is part of a series on Global Perceptions of the United States, leveraging surveys from 17 countries on six continents to understand how American society, culture and politics are perceived around the world.
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As Americans suffer the aftershock of another mass shooting, Morning Consult survey data from 17 countries finds overwhelming majorities of adults in highly developed nations see gun violence and overall crime as problems in the United States, and while views aren’t as dim in the developing world, they still lean negative.
How the World Sees U.S. Gun Violence, Crime and Policing
U.S. Gun violence is seen worse in rich countries
- At least 7 in 10 adults in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom say gun violence in the United States is “poor” or “terrible” while nearly as many people in Japan said the same, underlining a trend from this series in which wealthier, highly developed countries tend to hold more negative attitudes toward the United States on social issues.
- Strong negative views of gun violence seem to be fueling ill perceptions of crime in the United States as well, particularly in the developed world. At least 65% of adults in every G-7 country surveyed expressed negative views of crime in the United States.
- That’s in contrast to the populaces of many developing countries, which tend to hold more strongly negative views of gun violence in the United States than of crime. For example, Ghanaians, South Africans and Kenyans are at least 14 percentage points more likely to say crime in the United States is “fair,” “excellent,” or “good” compared with gun violence.
- Adults around the world tend to hold better views of policing in the United States, with majorities in 13 countries saying it is “fair” or better. Perceptions of police in the United States are more positive in developing countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Indonesia.
Economic and cultural peers are most likely to have negative views of the U.S.
Gun violence is much more prevalent in the United States than in other developed countries. The mass shooting on Monday at Michigan State University was the 67th thus far in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That discrepancy is also evident in global sentiment, with wealthier countries tending to hold the most negative views of gun violence in the United States, though sentiment is also negative in many developing countries.
The split between highly developed countries and the rest of the world on attitudes toward crime in the United States is more pronounced. While people in highly developed countries tend to hold strongly negative views of crime in the United States, more adults than not in Chile, Indonesia, Peru, Colombia and Brazil have positive perceptions on that issue.
A different dynamic plays out when it comes to policing in the United States, with views much more likely to skew negative in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom than anywhere else, perhaps due to higher U.S. media and news consumption. Roughly 2 in 5 adults in the three Anglosphere countries have negative perceptions of U.S. policing, higher shares than in other developed countries such as Germany, France and Japan. Meanwhile, people in many developing countries are more likely to have positive perceptions of policing in the United States than negative ones.
The Morning Consult surveys were conducted Oct. 14-18, Oct. 26-29, Nov. 16-21 and Dec. 15-30, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,000 adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Matthew Kendrick is a data reporter at Morning Consult covering geopolitics and foreign affairs. @matt__kendrick