Are Tourists Really Avoiding US Due to Perception of 'Gun Violence'?

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So-called gun violence, meaning violent crimes committing using a firearm, have been in the news for ages. Since 2020, the rate of these crimes has been abnormally high, though they started declining immediately after that 2020 peak.

But the media coverage of them has never really slacked off.

Now, most of us know to ignore the media as a general thing. They sensationalize some stories, downplay others, all in an effort to advance the dominate narratives, all of which are typically anti-gun.

We're used to it.

Now, though, it seems that tourists from other countries are staying away in droves because we're just such a violent place.

What Uneaka Daniels experienced the last couple of times she was in the United States was enough to keep her away for a long time.

Bermuda-born and raised Daniels was in Atlanta in 2019 and decided to get her hair done. On her way to the salon, she stopped a man to ask for directions. Suddenly, everyone ducked. It was a drive-by.

“I could actually see the gun and see it being fired,” she told USA TODAY. “The people on the street acted…as if it didn’t happen, and I’m here trying to crouch behind a tree. I said, ‘You guys are not afraid of this,’ and he said, ‘It happens so often.’” 

Now, I'm going to jump in here and address this particular point because I've spent a fair bit of time in Atlanta over the years and I've literally never seen a drive-by. 

Further, I find it very hard to believe absolutely no one hit the deck when the shooting happened. Even if it's common, I doubt marksmanship is, which means anyone with any sense is going to look for cover.

In short, I'm calling BS on this anecdote.

Moving on to the deeper point...

A growing number of international travelers are opting out of trips to the U.S. The nation’s travel sector continues to struggle to rebound from the pandemic, with 12 million fewer visitors in 2023 than in 2019, according to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association and EuroMonitor International. The U.S. ranked 17th out of the top 18 travel markets, slotting in just above China, with one major factor being safety following visa time barriers and the strength of the U.S. dollar.

Between 2019 and 2021, the U.S. fell four places on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Safety and Security Index due to the lack of reliability of police services and fear of gun violence.

“There’s no doubt that for all travelers, safety is a concern,” Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, told USA TODAY. 

Oh, well, the World Economic Forum thinks we're too violent as well.

Maybe they'll leave us the hell alone, then.

Look, violent crime in the US isn't exactly a laughing matter. It's real and yes, it's higher here than in most other developed nations.

However, when you look at our non-gun homicide rate, you'll find it to be higher than those other nations' total homicide rate. If the issue is guns, then why are we outpacing them in murders with every other weapon imaginable?

And understand, the other nations' homicide rates include those committed with firearms, so it's an intentional apples-to-oranges comparison.

But the facts are actually kind of irrelevant here. What matters is the perception of so-called gun violence, and that remains high.


Well, take a look at the media coverage. Gun Violence Archive inflates the number of mass shootings through the most broad definition imaginable, then the media reports of hundreds of mass shootings every year, so many that there have to be multiple such shootings nearly every day.

A dear friend of mine--think "family by choice" here versus just someone I know--is originally from Portugal. She noted the difference between our media and the media elsewhere in places like Europe.

In those other nations, the media is pretty big on trying to save face for the nation. They downplay a lot of their problems because of national pride, basically. 

Ours doesn't.

Now, I prefer a media to report the harsh reality, though ours doesn't do that, either. They actually overstate the issues in our country, making it seem worse.

Yet folks in other countries don't realize this. They just see it and figure that our media is like theirs. They figure that they're actually downplaying the issue. So, when you look at what's reported and think it's downplaying the issue, it's not difficult to see people being concerned.

And the media's reporting is actually illustrated perfectly at the top of this piece.

Remember the woman from Barbados who supposedly survived a drive-by shooting and is scared of the violence in the United States.

In 2021, the homicide rate in Barbados was 11.38.

In contrast, the homicide rate in the US was only 6.81. That's high for us, to be sure, but it means we're still safer than Barbados, where this woman has absolutely no problems living.

At no point does USA Today point this fact out, nor is there any sign they actually tried to verify her story about a drive-by where no one dove for cover because it was just so common. They simply ran with the story because it was too good to fact-check.

Besides, the perception can't be all that bad. Look at how many people keep crossing the southern border every day.