Travel Alert Issued: 500 Americans Will Be Killed by Guns This Week in the USA. For Safety’s Sake, Leave the Country Now!

Domestic safety alert: 500 Americans will be killed by guns this week in the USA. For safety, we advise taking loved ones to a safer continent such as Europe. (This is true. Five hundred Americans were killed by guns last week in the USA. An average of 500 Americans were killed every week in the last year. Officials are perplexed why no one seems to care in the USA. Perhaps being killed by a Muslim with a gun is more painful or evil.) And furthermore, 200 Americans will be killed by drunk drivers in the USA next week (12,000 died in alcohol-related accidents in the USA last year…a typical year).

The US government has stepped up the drone attacks inside Pakistan in the last month, killing many good and bad people. Our intelligence community has intercepted chatter that terrorists are planning to unleash some kind of retaliation against “soft targets” in Europe. So, the USA has issued a “Travel Alert,” warning citizens to be “vigilant” in Europe. A “Travel Warning,” which is much more serious, is not under consideration. The alert says little beyond the world is a dangerous place. And I knew that already. It advises people to stay away from unattended packages and to scram if they see violence…always common sense, even without a government alert.

When asked, the government officials who issued the warning stressed, “We are not saying to defer travel plans to Europe. Absolutely not.”

Here at Europe Through the Back Door, this is our busiest season for tours. We have thousands of travelers in Europe this fall. My son is there in Barcelona as I type. I’d be there tomorrow if I didn’t have work to do here in the statistically much more dangerous USA.

Of course in my office we are paying close attention to the news and don’t want to belittle the threat. But, as always, we urge our travelers to keep things in perspective. Each year 12 million Americans travel to Europe and 12 million return home safely. I can’t remember the last time an American tourist in Europe was hurt by a terrorist. On the other hand, every year another 30,000 die in the USA ‘ victims of gun violence (this is eight times the per-capita gun-caused deaths in Europe).

Assuming you believe in statistics ‘ regardless of what the news headlines say ‘ we have one strong piece of advice that could very well save lives: If you care about your loved ones, you’ll take them to Europe as soon as possible. It’s just much safer over there.

If there was a terrorist attack in Europe tomorrow and Americans died, I’d say exactly the same thing. I refuse to let fear and fear-mongering media mess up my perspective. And, as a patriotic American citizen, I know the best thing I can do to keep my country strong and safe is to travel a lot, engage in the world, and return home with the good news: Life is good, and fear is for people who don’t get out much.


67 Replies to “Travel Alert Issued: 500 Americans Will Be Killed by Guns This Week in the USA. For Safety’s Sake, Leave the Country Now!”

  1. Thank you Rick for pointing out that homeland security is relative. If only CNN and the other media outlets would put these “alerts” in perspective.

  2. And your point is? I have some questions for you, Rick. 1. Do Europeans have a Constitutionally enshrined right to bear arms in order to protect them from tyranny? I bet many of them wished they had this right in the 1940s when the Nazis and/or Communists took over. 2. How many of these Americans who were killed were involved in the drug trade? 3. How many crimes were prevented by armed citizens in America? 4. What role does our diverse citizenry play in gun violence? Compare the crime rates in America to similar population groups in Europe and what do you find? 5. What about the epidemic of stabbings in Britain? How does this mesh with your Europe is safer theory?

  3. And what is you point Bill? I`m talking about over-reacting to a vague terror threat when we have plenty of actual threats on our beloved home turf. I never said we shouldn`t have a gun under every pillow. I`m suggesting that life is full of danger but keep a grip.

  4. Well, I thought Rick`s blog was excellent and right on target, a little tongue-in-cheek and calming.

  5. A quick internet search reveals that Britain`s violent crime rate is now worse than that of the United States: “Britain`s violent crime record is worse than any other country in the European union, it has been revealed. Official crime figures show the UK also has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa – widely considered one of the world`s most dangerous countries.” Read more: Do you even do any research before spouting this leftist claptrap, Rick?

  6. Guns don`t kill people. The 500 hundred people who died last week were killed WITH guns, not BY guns. That doesn`t mean I think that armor-piercing bullets, guns made of non-metallic materials (so as to make them harder to detect) or assault rifles are hunky-dory for just anyone to own, nor do I think that it is ok for people to be able to purchase a gun without a background check. However, I do believe in being more precise with language. Further, you noted that 200 people were killed by drunk-drivers, but you didn`t say the alcohol killed the people who died, you said the drivers killed them. Consistency, please!

  7. Rick: I agree that people should not be worried about travel to Europe. I am just saying that Europe is not a panacea when it comes to violent crime and America is not as dangerous as is assumed. I do apologize for the tone of my previous response. Your conservative fan, Bill

  8. @Rick who is @Bill: it`s best to ignore people like Bill. You will never change their mind. The only thing you can do is continue to educate yourself about the realities of the world and ignore the nut-cases who think that the “right to bear arms” makes us safer.

  9. Since WW2, U.S. leaders have had a tendency to be complacent about warnings from intelligence sources and later express chagrin, remorse and surprise: Pearl Harbor; Battle of the Bulge; Yalu River; Tet Offensive; Oklahoma City bombing; first World Trade Center bombing, U.S. Embassy in Kenya; USS Cole; and 9/11. And Spain was also under prepared for Madrid`s bombings on March 11, 2004 despite prior warnings to police. Many are oblivious to surroundings when traveling. Ratchet up your common sense a notch.

  10. Rick, thank you for providing us with a great perspective on this current situation. We cannot live in fear. I for one will not be detered in my plans to travel to Europe. Having travelled extensively across Europe, it is far safer than the U.S. London is especially safe and I never once felt afraid for my safety, other than maybe an occasional pick-pocket. I`ve actually been planning a trip to Paris recently and won`t let vague threats deter me from living my life. We cannot live our life in fear, otherwise we lose, by giving up our freedoms.

  11. Rick, you and I are poles apart politically, but I could not agree more that this media-hyped “Travel Alert” is more nanny state drivel, like telling us that fast food is not usually healthy, or that we should talk to our kids on a regular basis. Thank you US Dept of the Obvious. All this overkill to tell people to exercise common sense when they travel? What is the purpose? Could you tell us how this effects your business? Do you get significant cancellations? I would think that your clientele would be a little smarter than that. Hope your company doesn`t suffer because of this stupidity.

  12. This is a balancing act. The US wants to do its job of alerting its citizens while not curtailing travel and negatively affecting tourism which could in turn hurt travel and, coincidentally, our allies. It`s a no-win situation. Is there ever going to be a time when we have truthful, courageous, outspoken leaders in government and business? In your dreams. Follow the money.

  13. Thanks for the heads-up Rick. That`s why I keep my gun locked up – in case the little jerk gets any ideas. On a related note, This week, millions of cars will drive themselves around, Hammers will pound nails without any human intervention, and computers will write thousands of blog entries all by themselves. I couldn`t agree more about the relative safety of overseas travel, and maybe I`m quibbling, I just wish you would blame the person, not the tool.

  14. Agree that common sense should always dictate when traveling, but if the State Dept. would not give out these warnings and something did happen, people would scream about not being made aware. While I agree with you, Rick, in that fear should not dictate how one lives their life, I do feel strongly that your naive attitude towards radical Islam`s negative influence in Europe is not only a disservice to your clientele but downright dangerous. Pretending it doesn`t exist won`t make it harmless.

  15. You might consider the fact that Rick has a financial interest in disavowing any threat in Europe. In case you haven`t noticed much of his business involves European tourism.

  16. Rick: Bravo! Well-stated, every word Bill: Your post is the one that makes no sense. You ask at the end “How does this mesh with your Europe is safer theory?” He just explained in great detail how, Bill, but you apparently aren`t intelligent enough to read English. To repeat: 30,000 a year die from guns in America eight times the *per capita* rate in Europe. (You probably don`t know what “per capita” means, Bill, so before you start arguing that Europe is smaller, look up the phrase to avoid making a fool of yourself again.) What part of this are you arguing with? You`re disagreeing with Rick…but not stating specifically what you`re disagreeing with. And many Europeans at the dawn on World War II *did* have guns when the Nazis invaded. Apparently you`ve never read a book about that period. Guns in the hands of untrained individuals were no match for the well-trained and organized Nazis. Rick talked about this in his Poland video, for just one example. Why don`t you take the time to learn before you post?

  17. > You might consider the fact that Rick has a financial interest > in disavowing any threat in Europe. In case you haven`t > noticed much of his business involves European tourism. Actually all of his business involves European tourism. He does no other kind. But what are you saying by your veiled implication? That Rick is making up the statistics he posts? If so, show us where. Show us which statistics are not true (for example, 30,000 people a year are *not*t killed in the US by guns) and what the true ones are, and cite your sources. Or do you mean there`s a logical flaw in his argument? If so please show us this flaw. If neither of the above, show us what you do mean. Because you might consider the fact that you may have a financial interest in the fear-monguring industries. [INVALID]See, I can make up vague innuendoes too! It`s easy.

  18. I agree with Rick in part, but the U.S. isn`t alarmingly dangerous either. If Rick`s stats are expanded annually, that translates to a 0.8% chance of dying from a gunshot wound in any given year. My guess is that if you are not in a tough inner city neighborhood, that chance is significantly less. I`ll take my chances in the U.S. or Europe.

  19. Hi Rick, We recently booked your 15 day France tour for next May. When this issue surfaced I told my wife it wouldn`t be long before ETBD posted their point of view. Your comments are exactly what I expected after following you for the last seven years, but I am a bit surprised by your lack of sensitivity to those who are truly concerned for their safety. You mention that your office is monitoring the situation and you don`t want to belittle the treat, but it seems that is exactly what you are doing by posting these comments. Don`t misunderstand me, I agree with your point of view, but I think it`s important to acknowledge people`s concerns over this.

  20. Rick, I am curious where you are getting your data for the number of deaths caused by firearms each year. I looked at the latest FBI data for murders committed with a firearm and their data says a total of 9,146 for 2009. While this does not include accidental deaths or suicides, I believe that this is a much more accurate number to go by. This would indicate 164 murders a week are committed with firearms. This is still a pretty high number but is a better indication of violent crime stats than your data. With your inflated number aren`t you doing the same thing that the US government is doing with their travel advisory?

  21. great post Rick … i just posted the link on my facebook page for my friends to see…. the same line of reasoning of im afraid to fly to europe when the car ride to the airport was far more dangerous for govt action oin security …TSA made my 7 month old little girl take her shoes off last week at the security check point ..i wish i was joking

  22. I will not waste time and space dealing with each statement John makes but will give some examples. First, you can`t prove a negative. The assertion that 30,000 are killed by guns is up to the person making the assertion prove it. Next, those following Rick understand his entry into Iran which is not Europe and his recent series on South America. These have economic implications and value. Points made and proved.

  23. I can so prove a negative. I am not an ostrich. I believe I can prove that. And Rick does not lead tours to Iran, and there are no tours from the US that go to Iran, and even if there were Rick does not conduct them or profit from them. Could you show me how Rick is profiting from South American tourism? Points made and really proved this time.

  24. Your blog comments are reminiscent of the childish and inane section on your website that was entitled “Ugly American Sightings”. Your history of taking the low road and bashing your native country in order to attract clients is repugnant and pointless. Perhaps taking a mature approach and focusing on creating truly unique travel experiences would be a better use of your time- then we living here in Europe could look forward to seeing the lemmings who buy into your product in new locations.

  25. Excellent blog Rick; and I want to personally thank you for helping my vacation to Paris, london (King`s Sutton), Budapest and Prague go as smooth as possible. I just flew back Sunday after 16 days in Europe, but of course I saw and read the reports. It all kind of felt like a big, “well duh!” Independent travelers aren`t naive…at least this one isn`t. Frankly, all the travelers I was previleged to meet on my journey were far too caught up with soaking up special cultural experiences to give pause to paranoia. I`m glad my sister and mother are relieved to see me back Stateside, but apparently they were watching way too much Anderson Cooper. The terrorists wish to disrupt the way we live; I refuse to let them win. And there`s danger everywhere; indeed, I could stay here, never travel and die a violent death of which I never warrented. That`s really Rick`s gist of the blog, nothing more. (Honestly, the blog title would make The Onion editors proud.)

  26. Totally agree with you, Kevin. I`ve followed these blogs long enough to know that the Steves` idea of tolerance of others does not include themselves bashing their own country, especially if they can make a profit doing so. As for reading Jackie`s blogs of her S. American adventures with her brother, let`s just say that for all their bragging of travel experiences, they seem to have taken some questionable risks, which is up to them to do so, but it highlights some immaturity and naivete on their part [INVALID] which doesn`t bode well as far as parents concerns for the security and safety of their kids if they should travel on Andy`s Weekend Student Adventures tours.

  27. This is a question for Rick or one of his staff members[INVALID]-do you know how many people read this blog on an average day? I`m just curious. (PS: Welcome back to blogging, Rick. I can`t wait for your new TV season to begin.)

  28. Jackie`s blogs from South America never stirred up this kind of response. It`s really good to have you back, Rick. Some of our responders need to step back, cool off, calm down, and try to see the humor in what Rick posted. Lighten up, folks! My verifying word is “outrageous”[INVALID]good one.

  29. Rick I knew you would come through and write an article about this to show the reality. Every year in the past decade that we have traveled out of the country we have had something (in fact my husband said that maybe we were suppose to be on a trip right now because of this alert). We have had H1N1, Volcano`s, The airline grounding our plane, no more liquids. But you know we have never had a problem. Once we get there our trips have been flawless and so enjoyable. I would never cancel a trip because of the Media, you can almost take it down a few notches by what the news says.

  30. Bill: ” 1. Do Europeans have a Constitutionally enshrined right to bear arms in order to protect them from tyranny?” Laws (and constitutions) differ from country to country, but in Switzerland it is compulsory to keep an assault rifle (only for males of Swiss nationality. Foreigners may not).

  31. “Laws (and constitutions) differ from country to country, but in Switzerland it is compulsory to keep an assault rifle (only for males of Swiss nationality. Foreigners may not).” which would seem to show that it`s not the firearms that are the problem, but something else. that is the real debate.

  32. Actually, it`s the recent sharp rise in the Euro-dollar exchange rate that`s killing Americans. I hope it calms down before my Spring 2011 trip to Europe!

  33. My wife and I leave for France and Spain tomorrow. When friends have expressed concern, I have pointed out to them that by far the most dangerous part of our trip will be the drives to and from the airport (a major city about 80 miles away). If we survive that, we will be fine. Those who argue otherwise are simply ignoring the facts.

  34. My wife and I just came from a 3 week trip to Europe on Oct. the 2nd. and read about the “Travel Alert”. She told me we were lucky in our timing, I told her otherwise, if the alert would have been issued a month earlier we would have had far fewer crowds.

  35. Since John has ignored the two post request I will add my own third. O.K. John prove you are not an Ostrich. Rick has more ways to profit than by leading tours. I am sure his Iran film has generated profits and I can guess he profits from his arrangement with PBS. South America is obviously an investment in the future. The 500 deaths from guns in the U.S. is misleading. Since more than half are from suicide I don`t believe that poses a danger. Statistics can be misrepresented to prove almost anything you wish.

  36. An old quote, but a good one. “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is interesting; what they conceal is vital.”

  37. > Since John has ignored the two post requests What two post requests? > John prove you are not an Ostrich Oh, okay, if you`re going to take that (ridiculous0 road then you can`t prove a POSITIVE either. Prove you`re a human being. > Rick has more ways to profit than by leading tours. Never said he didn`t, but since you`re the one demanding proofs without giving any yourself, prove he is profiting. And that`s not a negative, so you should be able to do it. > I am sure his Iran film has generated profits Why are you “sure”? You`re “sure” about a lot of things but again offer no proofs yourself. How would his Iran film generate profits for ETBD? > South America is obviously an investment in the future. Ah, more statements of “fact” without any evidence or proof. > The 500 deaths from guns in the U.S. is misleading. Since > more than half are from suicide Cite please? And please cite how many such deaths are in the European statistics so we can do a fair comparison. Thanks! > Statistics can be misrepresented to prove almost anything > you wish. I won`t argue that, since you prove it beautifully. That`s my last post on the subject. The good folks who monitor these boards have better things to do than read this thread. Bye-bye.

  38. It can`t be easy to run a travel business in 2010 (or anytime). Of course the customer is always number one but I worry most about the guides as well as the people behind the scenes who have jobs dependent upon political stability around the world and economic prosperity in the US.

  39. John: Let me respond to your display of unjustified arrogance: 1. I never mentioned per capita gun deaths. I said that Britain has a violent crime rate which exceeds that of America. My point there was that the US is not as dangerous and Europe not as safe as Rick`s comments seemed to imply. Please work on your reading comprehension before replying to my posts. 2. As for my knowledge of the history of the early 20th century, I actually have a BA in history and have read many books on the subject. In case you did not know, the modus operandi for tyrants in the making is to disarm the citizenry to prevent violent dissent and challenges to their rule. Hitler`s Germany for example banned ownership of firearms by Jews in 1938 as part of the early stages of the Holocaust. Seven million Jews would later perish in the Holocaust. Similarly, the Soviet regime passed a succession of laws from 1918 to 1925 banning firearms. Twenty million Soviet citizens were later killed by Stalin in the purges and famines brought on by him. I could go on and on. This is all historical fact and is not even debatable. So, before you criticize the historical knowledge of others, I would suggest that you first educate yourself. Try reading something other than Rick Steves or Mother Jones.

  40. Well, not to start a p****** contest, but I have a Masters in history (as well as two other degrees not really relevant here) and I know everything you said. None of which I was debating, but nice job moving the goalposts. Still waiting on all those “proofs” of yours.

  41. bill sez – “I actually have a BA in history.” ……. From Limbaugh University or Coulter College?

  42. Rick, In your past blogs you resist any condemndation of radical Islam and do not believe it has any negative effects on European culture and society today, but rather contributes positively. While I do not believe in giving in to terrorists threats by not traveling, I sense that your pooh-poohing of the travel security warnings is in part a reflection of your belief that you don`t see a threat from radical Islam. Don`t you feel any sense of obligation to your customer base to recognize the reality of the harmful effects that radical Islam has on every society, especially that of Western Europe where most of your followers travel to? Instead of criticizing American culture, why do you not criticize those who by their profession of their faith believe in the killing of innocent lives as a way of honoring their god? Lastly, do you not believe in the disastrous consequences of applying Sharia Law to western society?

  43. Where did Rick resist any condemndation of radical Islam? And state that he believes it does not have any negative effects on European culture and society, but rather contributes positively? You are not claiming all Islam is radical and evil are you? Sharia law, in my opinion, wold not work in USA, but we must be careful that we do not confuse actual Sharia Law with what some claim as Sharia Law. If one does not like, or support, Sharia Law one must be careful about what coffee shop one patronizes.

  44. John: What “proofs” did you want again? Erin Garner: Not exactly. The BA is from a well known national university. I then went on the earn a professional degree as history, while very interesting, is not typically financially rewarding. How about you?

  45. Oscar, Maybe you missed the whole blog discussion about Muslims living in Europe. In that discussion Rick downplayed travelers concerns about how Europe HAS CHANGED because of the influx of Muslims not assimilating. Like a Pollyanna, if one wishes to not see the obvious, then of course everything is fine and there is no reason to feel a security threat even when the radicals themselves brag about what they want and will do. Lastly, your waffling on exactly what Sharia Law is astounds me. That the leader of the Church of England feels Sharia Law is something that Britain should consider is yet another example of how the rot comes from within. I hope one day you do not wake up and have to live under such laws nor wonder what happened to your freedom.

  46. Janet, is anyone who does not want to assimilate a radical? Are the Amish radicals because they have not fully assimilated? What is the minimum accepatable level of assimilation, and who determines it? Where am I waffling? All I wrote was we must be careful noi to confuse actual Sharia Law with what some claim as Sharia Law? From reading your two comments, I must conclude you view all change as bad since you wrote about negative effects in one comment and later wrote Europe has changed. I do not dispute Europe has changed, but I see do not have where Rick has writen that radical Islam has only had positive effects. You are aware aren`t you that a coffee shop chain in the USA subscribes to Sharia Law? It does so because a large amount of its stock is ownes by Muslims.

  47. The problem with these stats is they can paint the wrong picture about the US in general. The reality is most Americans living and staying in normal parts of towns are in no more danger than someone living in London. The only difference is in many American cities there are one or more small areas were crime is just crazy, these areas may only be a few square blocks yet the crime rates in these areas will be insanely high when you add in this small area. These crime rates are then loaded into the stats machine along with the low crime rates for the rest of the city and suddenly you have a new murder capital. Sometimes stats come out in the US that cut out all the `trouble spots` and just show ordinary America, these stats show that the crime rates in large chunks of the US is not that much higher than in Western Europe. Add the trouble spots and the murder rates goes up to 10 times the rate.

  48. I just read all the comments from the last two blogs and I think a lot of people are getting way off track from the really important issue, which is travel in your life. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer and for the next year and a half, I took the ferry over to Edmonds on a lot of occasions to attend the travel classes at ETBD- they were a life-affirming counterpoint to the fear of death that a cancer diagnosis brings. Knowing there was a good chance that my next followup might reveal a spread of my cancer, I decided that if that was the case, I wanted to go to Europe before I knew for sure. My sister and I took two of your fabulous tours: 7 days in Paris and the 10 day Venice, Florence, Rome. (I discovered there were other cancer survivors on both of these trips.) I returned home and found out shortly after that my cancer had not spread. We were signed up for the 7 days in London tour the following year, but had to cancel at the last minute due to family illness that persisted until recently. Since my husband died 5 weeks ago, I have spent most of my saturday mornings taking the ferry again to Edmonds to the ETBD classes for the stimulating, life-affirming experiences they offer. These are helping me to cope with my devastating loss. I leave for England next week for a couple of weeks to visit friends and hope to work in a quick hop to Paris for the Monet exhibit. When I come back, it will be just in time for another round of russian roulette with the cancer followup. When I heard about the travel alert, my first thought was, “well, if someone is going to blow up my plane, I hope it is on the home from Europe, rather than on the way over.” All life is filled with risk. How sad it would be to live it without adding experience and adventure.

  49. Love the article. And, if you read Bill`s comments, then here`s another good reason to head to Europe: TO GET AWAY FROM CLOSED_MINDED PEOPLE LIKE BILL!

  50. Loved the post. Another random statistic… Since 1970 roughly 3000 people have died from Mideast in origin terrorist attacks. That is roughly 1.44 people per week on average. In America 13 people die per week riding their bikes and 84 people die just walking down the street every week. So, if you want to be really safe you should lock yourself in your home and never leave. You better not get sick though…. 576 people died each week on average from the flu and flu related illness.

  51. My husband and I are planning are first trip across the pond…we are planning to go to Paris, Koln, Amsterdam, and London…now we hear about the travel alerts…very worrisome, but Rick`s blog helped…anybody else want to give us comfort? this is our trip of a lifetime and I`m nervous now…we are TOTALLY relying on public transportation and want to go to all the tourist-y things…the only thing we are not doing is staying in fancy hotels, so apparently that is a safer option…we need guidance!

  52. JEN, read the comments on the HelpLine regarding the “travel alerts”, as those may help you to put the warnings in perspective. I wouldn`t have the least hesitation in travelling to Europe at the present time (but of course always wise to be vigilant). Amsterdam isn`t covered by the alerts, so there shouldn`t be any concerns in going there (aside from the usual petty crime). As this is your “first trip across the pond”, be sure to pre-read “Europe Through The Back Door”.

  53. Mark: Close minded = does not agree with Mark. As for you, your mind is apparently so open that your brains fell out.

  54. Islam is a serious threat to western civilization. Islam is taking over Europe. France and the UK are the biggest muslim ass kissers around. It`s too late for Europe. Europe is no longer Europe.

  55. Hey Rick – I`m curious about that stat. Are you sure? The FBI stats seem to have the total number of murders for last year at 13,636 (, which is 252/week all up (that`s still absolutely insane. What the, America??). Have the stats really doubled for 2010, or is there a hiccup somewhere? Oh yeah, and stick to Western Europe, though ;-) (

  56. As an international educator I enjoyed this article but I am also using a bit of perspective when reflecting on it. Rick`s livelihood and passions lie in travel and seeing the world. He seems to be speaking from his heart about important reasons to not be afraid of travel while simultaneously defending his business which is entirely centered around the travel industry. I will support Rick`s business any day, go abroad!

  57. I live in a major US City. I KNOW I am safer in Europe then here. Sad, but true! Too much gun crime in my town! I am very unlikely to be “carjacked” at gunpoint in Europe as my best friend was a few weeks ago!

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