Dodgy areas are a concern, but there are other factors behind gun ownership here in the U.S. besides fear of human criminals. The state where I live (Arizona) is more than twice the size of England proper and much of it is primitive land. Large dogs, especially on reservations can go feral either through neglect or simply getting lost. Several generations later and they no longer act like normal domestic dogs. They are bigger and stronger than coyotes, exhibit the pack behavior of wolves; are aggressive and have absolutely zero fear of human beings. They live by preying on livestock and scavenging.
I've related several times in the last 10 years on this forum how we (Two friends and myself) were attacked by a pack of feral dogs while on a fishing trip and it was only the fact that we were all wearing side-arms that prevented us from being injured. (Our own dogs hid behind us!) Feral dogs kill about 14 people in the U.S. each year and injure many more. It isn’t a huge number in the grand scheme of things, but that sort abstraction looses any meaning when you are the one being attacked.
People have observed on this thread that gun ownership is part of U.S. culture and that’s true enough, but cultural norms don’t develop in a vacuum. There is a utilitarian side to gun ownership that probably doesn’t have an exact equivalent everywhere else.
I agree that decreasing violence is what needs to happen. We’ve debated the subject for over a generation here with very little to show for it. We’ve hardly put a dent in drug traffic and states like mine continue to be major entry points for illegal drugs and the related crime.
I take the value of human life very seriously (It was actually the blood issue that drove me away from the Witnesses at a young age.) and therefore take gun ownership very, very seriously. I’ve devoted a huge amount of bookshelf space to the subject. It's an issue that has defied people's gut feelings and intuition. Study after study has shown that gun control is a very minor, though not entirely irrelevant, part of the solution to the violence problem, just as guns are of only very minor significance as a cause of the problem. The U.S. has more violence than other nations for reasons unrelated to its extraordinarily high gun ownership.
And I don’t say any of this as a conservative. I'm not. I lean liberal on almost everything except this one subject.