Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Latin America Has Fewer Guns, But More Crime | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 24, 2018

The news in Latin America this year has brought two reminders that Latin America’s stringent gun controls have not stemmed the growing homicide problem in many parts of the region.

The first is that homicides reached new highs in Mexico this year , reaching record levels not seen since the country began keeping records twenty years ago.

Secondly, violent crime became a significant issue in this year’s presidential race, with president-elect Jair Bolsonaro running on a platform of fighting crime, pledging to “use the army” if need be.

In both cases, crime continues to soar in spite of the fact that that both Brazil and Mexico are anything but what we might call “laissez-faire” when it comes to gun ownership. Indeed, both employ stringent gun control regimes — as do most of Latin America’s states.

These fact have long presented a problem for advocates of gun control, of course, since their arguments often rely on the idea that reducing gun ownership will bring lower crime rates.

In this years’ update to the Small Arms Survey, published by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, we find that civilian gun prevalence — legal and illegal — is not especially widespread in Latin America, even by European standards.


Source: Small Arms Survey.

For example, according to the Survey’s estimates, there are only 12.9 civilian guns per 100 people in Mexico. Brazil’s total is even smaller, at 8.3 per 100 people.

Compare these numbers to any number of other countries with significantly lower homicide rates, whether Canada, Austria, Switzerland, or even Germany. (We need not even bring the US into it, which, of course, has a much, much higher gun prevalence, with relatively low homicide rates by global standards.) No Latin American country, with the exception of relatively-low-crime Uruguay, matches these totals in terms of gun prevalance.


Source: Small Arms Survey, World Bank.

Looking at these numbers, we simply don’t see a cause and effect relationship between gun prevalence and a lack of homicide. Clearly, there are other factors at work, and homicides can’t actually be explained in convenient claims of “fewer guns, less crime.”


Source: World Bank.

This reality in Latin America, however, is steadfastly ignored…

Be seeing you



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