British police seized 31 Czech-made automatic weapons last week after a raid in the town of Rochester, 30 miles east of London, in what’s being categorized as the largest gun bust in the county’s history. The perpetrators are accused of smuggling 22 automatic rifles and 9 machine pistols over the English Channel from France in a boat, along with magazines, ammunition, and silencers. U.K. tabloids called the record-setting haul “chilling.”
American police officers reading about the operation might have greeted the news with a yawn. In the United States, which has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, there are more than 88 guns for every 100 people, compared to 6.2 for England and Wales and 5.5 for Scotland — and much bigger seizures of illegal guns. (With a gun-related murder rate nearly quadruple that of Great Britain, the U.S. also has a lot more firearm homicides.)
The Trace reviewed 12-month’s worth of news reports on U.S. gun busts to see how the Rochester, England haul compares. As this transatlantic league table illustrates, the U.K.’s all-time biggest bust wouldn’t even break the top 10 if it had happened here.
1. 241 guns seized in Ramona, California, on August 7, 2014.
2. 195 guns seized in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, on August 8 and 9, 2014.
3. 100+ guns seized in Chicago, Illinois, on August 28, 2014.
4. 70 guns seized in Oakland, California, on October 15, 2014.
5. 50+ guns seized in Bonsall and Escondido, California, on March 6, 2015.
6. 40 guns seized in Lancaster, Ohio, on October 15, 2014.
7. 40 guns seized in Barret Township, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 2014.
8. 39 guns seized in Erie, Pennsylvania, on May 22, 2015.
9. 38 guns seized in Elkhart, Kentucky, on April 16, 2015.
10. 38 guns seized in San Francisco, California, on June 10, 2015.
11. 37 guns seized in Madison, Minnesota, on October 21, 2014.
12. 31 guns seized in Rochester, Kent, United Kingdom, on August 15, 2015.