One issue in the US is the widespread ownership of firearms. There are far more guns out there than people. Even if they were to ban all guns now (which would cause SERIOUS riots), there would be plenty around. The firearm issue is a cultural one more than one of numbers though.
Finland and Switzerland both have a large number of gun owners, but I can assure you Mexico and Thailand have higher firearm-related assault and murder rates. There are a lot of people in the US who think it is perfectly OK to shoot someone for their property or because they dissed you, which is why I chose guns that were suitable for defensive purposes. I actually genuinely enjoy shooting and I love the design of firearms, so sleeping with a shotgun was not particularly unusual for me. I used to sleep with bb guns when I was a kid.
There are just some people who genuinely like weapons. I've never hurt anyone with any of my toys.
I do think firearm laws are a good idea, but I think people should be allowed to own them after psychological screening and safety tests, not by forking out shitloads of cash. We should be allowed to own them if we want to and are suitable owners, not because we 'need' them. In that sense, yes, America is the land of the free, because the government trusts its people to own weapons, whereas other countries do not.
Firearm related crime is increasing in the UK. Handguns cannot be purchased there legally, yet the numbers being found on the streets are skyrocketing. I think we're going to see this trend occur worldwide. Guns are fairly primitive in design and anyone with a little know-how and desire can craft a very effective and accurate weapon with relatively basic tools, especially with modern technology being what it is.
Yes, HK is safe, but shit happens here. I know three women who have been physically assaulted here: two on the MTR and one in a lift in Kowloon. In all three cases, the police couldn't do anything. It's nice to be able to hold yourself down when shit hits the fan. My dad's been tied up and robbed at knife point twice. I like to know I have a fighting chance (if need be) and that I won't cower and be killed as easily the majority of sheeple (sheep-like people) out there.
Additionally, Gilles, if you look at US crime stats, the states where firearm ownership is highest often have the lowest crime rates. Big cities in America have the highest, and they also have the toughest gun laws. DC is a prime example. It's certain facets of modern urban culture to blame, not the availability of firearms.