Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An object lesson in gun control

What would happen, say, if an island nation were to use its geographical isolation to have the best chance of reducing crime by banning private ownership of handguns?

Well, John Lott gives us the answer, and it's not pretty. Jamaica's murder rate has soared to 60 murders annually per 100,000 people, right up there with Chicago and Washington, DC--notably two other places which have banned private ownership of handguns. Another example of a place that's tough to get to, but has a sky high murder rate due to handgun bans: South Africa, with a murder rate of nearly 40/100k annually.

It's worth noting, by the way, that Jamaica and South Africa now have higher murder rates as a country than DC usually does as a city.

Addendum: a happy ending in Chicago as an elderly couple ignored Chicago's unconstitutional handgun ban, which allowed them to defend themselves against an armed intruder. A high profile lawyer will defend them, and it is unclear whether the attacker, now deceased, was on the board of aldermen, the city's most notorious crime ring.


pentamom said...

I'm not sure why you describe South Africa as "tough to get to" in this sense. It shares borders with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, hardly peaceful, well-regulated places. I imagine gun smuggling in southern Africa isn't really all that difficult.

So while of course I'm on board with the "gun bans don't stop crime" point, it's not at all counter-intuitive that a place like South Africa would be ridden with illegal guns. Jamaica, being an island in a generally more peaceful part of the world, is a little less obvious.

Bike Bubba said...

The trick with South Africa is that there aren't very many highways and railways to their neighbors, so arms trafficking is more or less an issue of a nice long walk through the bush. Not quite as hard to walk to SA as to Jamaica, but still quite difficult.

When you compare that with our borders, or those in Europe or Asia, it might as well be an island.

Anonymous said...

Uh, isn't SA a big arms manufacturer? And wouldn't they just use boats for arms trafficking to and from SA?

pentamom said...

Yes, I suppose that makes it more difficult, but "nice long walk through the bush" is second nature for guerrilla types, anyway. In some ways, all that dense territory without roads makes it easier -- lots and lots of places where there are no checkpoints and no one could possibly track you. Places where there are lots of roads means lots of guys with checkpoints. Certainly it's no walk in the park, but for a determined smuggler it's not all that much of an obstacle. Certainly easier than somewhere like France, which is surrounded by countries with secure borders and restrictive laws.

Bike Bubba said...

Agreed that people would use boats, or more likely planes--the trick is that even if you're used to the walk/flight/sail, it's an effort you don't need to get into, say, England. Economic incentives are decided on the margins.

And getting into France? No problem. Walk, drive, or ride a train across the border, show your passport, and unless you do something stupid, nobody notices the AK in your backpack, or box of them in your trunk.

Except for the AK/contraband part, I've done it myself. Much easier than 5-10,000 mile flights or 300 miles through the bush.