Saturday, January 29, 2005


Reality Check: Gun Ownership Rules and Gun Deaths Internationally

Ran across this article about gun deaths and gun regulatins. Something to think about. For your convenience, I have made a chart at the end of the article

A 1997 Justice Department report on murders in the U.S. shows that our country has a murder rate of seven victims per 100,000 population per year. There are a number of well-known examples of countries with more liberal gun laws and lower murder rates than the U.S. One is Finland, with a murder rate of 2.9. Israel is another example; although its population is heavily armed, Israel's murder rate is only 1.4. In Switzerland, gun ownership is a way of life. Its murder rate is 2.7.

By contrast, consider Brazil. All firearms in Brazil must be registered with the government. This registration process can take anywhere from 30 days to three months. All civilian handguns are limited in caliber to no more than 9mm. All rifles must fire handgun ammunition only. Brazilians may only buy one gun per year. At any one time, they may only have in their possession a maximum of six guns: two handguns, two rifles and two shotguns. To transport their guns, citizens must obtain a special police permit. CCW permits are available but are rarely issued.

Therefore, it should not be a revelation to anyone that Brazil has a thriving black market in guns. Virtually any type of gun is available, for a price. Incidentally, Brazil's murder rate is 19 victims per 100,000 population per year.

In Cuba, Fidel Castro controls every aspect of life with an iron hand, including gun ownership. Castro remembers well how he and his rag-tag armed Communist rebels overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista and set up a Communist dictatorship. An armed populace is threatening to a repressive government. Still, somebody in Cuba is obtaining guns and using them to murder fellow citizens. Cuba's murder rate is 7.8.

The former Soviet state of Lithuania is now an independent democratic country. But it still retains some vestiges of Stalinism. Lithuania's citizens must obtain a police permit to buy a gun. All guns are registered with the government. Somehow these restrictions are not deterring the criminal element; Lithuania has an unenviable murder rate of 11.7.

Gun control in Mexico is a fascinating case study. Mexican gun laws are simply draconian. No civilian may own a gun larger than .22 caliber, and a permit is required to buy one. All guns in Mexico are registered with the Ministry Of Defense. Guns may not be carried in public, either openly or concealed.

Mexican authorities seem to take a particular delight in arresting and imprisoning unwitting Americans who are not familiar with Mexican gun laws. Americans may not bring legal guns or ammunition into Mexico. Possession of even one bullet can get you thrown in a medieval Mexican prison. The State Department says that at any one time there are about 80 Americans imprisoned in Mexico for minor gun crimes. The State Department even went so far as to issue a special notice to U.S. gun owners, warning about harsh Mexican gun laws. Americans are allowed to hunt in Mexico, but they must first obtain a permit from the Mexican Embassy or a Mexican Consulate before taking their hunting rifles south of the border.

Mexico's murder rate is an eye-popping 17.5. Mexican authorities are fond of blaming the high murder rate on firearms smuggled across the border from the United States. Nonsense. The U.S. has many more personal guns than Mexico, yet our murder rate is far lower than Mexico's. It is Mexico's absurd gun laws that prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves against illegally armed criminals.

Guns are effectively outlawed in Russia. Private handgun ownership is totally prohibited. A permit is required to purchase a long gun. All guns are registered with authorities. When transporting a long gun, it must be disassembled. Long guns may only be used for self-defense when the gun owner is on his own property. By the way, Russia's murder rate is a staggering 30.6.

It is surprising to learn that there is gun trouble in the tropical paradises of Trinidad and Tobago. Here a permit is required to purchase a gun. All guns are registered with the police. In spite of (or perhaps because of) these restrictions, Trinidad and Tobago together have a murder rate of 11.7.

Gun Restriction Nation Gun Deaths Per 100,000

Low Finland 2.9
Low Switzerland 2.7
Medium US 7
High Brazil 19
High Cuba 7.8
High Lithuania 11.7

High Mexico 17.5
High Russia 30.6

Source: Guns and Ammo

Regulations don't guarantee safety. And if you push people who might otherwise be law abiding into the black market, you may erode their respect for the law even further, adding to social chaos. An interesting conundrum.

I think murder rates are ultimately a cultural phenomena. Access to technology (guns, hatches, wood chippers) etc., essentially has no impact on people's desires and determinations to kill one another. The possession of such a utility by the victim, on the other hand. . . .
...Americans may not bring legal guns or ammunition into Mexico. Possession of even one bullet can get you thrown in a medieval Mexican prison...

Just because they're legal in your country, doesn't mean they're legal in others. What sort of idiot would take a gun into another country anyway? Especially without checking what the laws are there.

And one thing you failed to point out in your figures; Brazil, Cuba, Lithuania etc., these are all what I call 'retarded' countries, they aren't as civilised as us.

Also, you missed out here in England. It is virtually impossible to own a gun legally, yet we have a low gun crime rate.

It doesn't matter what the law says, it depends on the culture.
Oh, and I'm actually in favour of loosening up gun laws here, because I want one.
The article doesn't mention the reasons people have a gun. I'm a Finn, I have a gun and about 2/3 of the households in Finland have one. The difference is, that if you go to apply for one and say it's for self defence, you are not going to get your licence.
You have to have proof that justifies the need for a firearm i.e. a membership of a sports club, hunting licence or a job which requires one. And if you did something funny in your past (criminal activity) you can forget about it.

Most of the weapons in Finland are used for hunting or sports and I think most of them are rifles, shotguns and so on - not pistols or revolvers, though mine is a 9mm Taurus.

So I wouldn't say Finland has liberal gun laws, it actually is pretty tight and controlled.
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