Tuesday, November 08, 2005

An armed society is a polite society

Brazil has a murder rate four times that of the United States. The Brazilian government apparently thought banning guns was the solution to rampant violent crime.

66% of the population, though, disagreed.

Why? As the vast majority of Brazilians recognized bans would only curtail ownership by law-abiding citizens it would do nothing to cut down on violent crime. The authors of this article show actually the opposite is true: The imposition of gun bans INCREASES the crime rate.

Consider the case of Washington, D.C. In the five years before Washington's ban in 1976, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000. In the five years after the ban went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. In fact, while murder rates have fluctuated after 1976, only once have they fallen below what they were that year. Robberies and overall violent-crime rates followed the same trend: Robberies fell from 1,514 to 1,003 per 100,000 leasing up to 1976, and then rose by over 63 percent, up to 1,635. These drops and subsequent increases were much larger than any changes in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. For example, the District's murder rate fell 3.5 to 3 times further than in the neighboring states and rose back 3.8 times greater.

Chicago, which has banned handguns since 1982, also saw violence rise. Chicago's murder rate fell from 27 to 22 per 100,000 in the five years before the law, and then rose slightly to 23. The change is even more dramatic when compared to five neighboring Illinois counties. While robbery data in Chicago isn't available for the years immediately after the ban, since 1985 (the first year for which the FBI has data) robbery rates soared.

The experience in the U.K., an island nation whose borders are much easier to monitor, should also give gun controllers pause. The British government banned handguns in 1997 but recently reported that gun crime in England and Wales nearly doubled in the four years from 1998-99 to 2002-03.

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