Friday, 17 January 2014

Gun Controls

I was saddened to see this article in the Telegraph earlier. A four-year-old girl in Detroit managed to get hold of her grandfather's gun and accidentally shot dead her cousin. A terrible tragedy. However, the end of the article bothered me, citing that America's liberal gun laws mean that more people get killed by guns each year.

Well, of course they do. Here in the UK, we have very strict gun controls, and as a result, not many people get shot. But do less people get killed? Do strict gun controls actually result in a lower murder rate?

A link here to a list of countries by murder rate, i.e. number of murders relative to population size. It quite clearly indicates that Africa, South East Asia and South America generally have very high murder rates relative to the rest of the world. Now, if gun ownership is to blame for high murder rates, then we would expect those same areas to have very high rates of gun ownership, yes?

Except they don't. Africa, South East Asia and South America generally have low rates of gun ownership. Conversely, the countries with the highest levels of gun ownership tend to have lower murder rates overall. Including the United States.

So, is there a factor which does correlate with high murder rates? Yes. GDP per capita. Overwhelmingly, the poorest countries in the world are in Africa, South East Asia and South America. These countries have the highest murder rates, despite having low rates of gun ownership.

In other words, guns don't kill people. People kill people. Murder is a psychological, sociological and economic issue, and has very little to do with the availability of weapons.