Dying to Travel
By cdmichel | Published November 18, 2013
"Beautiful Honduras! See our sights. Enjoy our local cuisines. Experience some of the strongest gun control laws, and the highest homicide rates, in the world! Come for the beaches. Stay for the bullets."
Not the best Honduras (or California) tourism brochure.
The mantra of gun control advocates is that gun availability leads to more violence in general, and more gun violence in particular. It is one of those causality logic errors that sound good to the uninitiated, but irrational to people versed in reality. Even the equating of gun availability to gun violence is demonstrably false. Within American borders and across the planet, the guns = violence sound byte should fail.
Not all nations report their crime rates, nor segregate gun homicides from other homicides. So it is no trivial matter to find and chart useful comparative data. Often data is not available for exactly the same year, though at worst the spread between the reporting nations is just a few years. Nonetheless, you can look at violence against people (for which guns offer deterrence and prevention) and see where in the wide world one should not travel. And when you do, it shows that coming to America, with all its guns, is a good idea. In fact, it's downright boring here in terms of violence ... aside from our television programming and inner city gang territories.
Revisiting Honduras, we can safely say many things; including that Honduran gun control laws are a model that the Brady Campaign wants for America to adopt. But this was not always the case. Before 1985, guns in Honduras were treated as property, in the same way cars and chickens were, only even less regulated. But like in our own backward thinking states (e.g., California), firearm regulation began with seed restrictions on carrying guns in public, and then grew like weeds. Honduran firearm laws instituted after 1985 include such Brady Campaign favorites as:
And yet, despite all the Honduras laws limiting the availability of gun, the homicide rate has soared there, mainly driven by gang violence similar to that in American's inner cities. So too has Honduras' firearm homicide rate. Now the highest in the world, their firearm homicides are a full 18 times the rate of America, and 12 times more than the world-wide average (yes, that means American firearm homicide rates are well below global averages).
In fact, among countries that report their firearm homicides, not only is America far down the curve, but the U.S. achieves its admirably low firearm homicide rate while having the largest private supply of firearms anywhere. More interestingly, if you look at the firearm homicide rate as a factor of firearm availability (divide gun homicide rates by per capita gun ownership) the United States is in the same cluster of countries as Singapore, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Estonia, Ukraine, Italy and other place where you never hear much about gun violence (our gun violence rate is not as favorable as Serbia, but anyone who has had Serbian goulash will attest that Serbs have better things to do than shoot guns).
But let's get back to our fatal travelogue. As anyone with common sense knows, guns are used to prevent violent crimes. They have social utility. They serve as a violence deterrent. Gun control advocates tend to ignore or supress this reality, because expressly or implicitly acknowledging any societal value to owning guns makes you less likely to surrender yours. Agreeing that guns detuer violent criminals, it follows that lower gun ownership might lead to more violent assaults. If homicides are a "Good Enough" proxy for overall violence (and "violence" has many legal definitions and reporting standards around the world, whereas dead bodies are rather consistant) then lower levels of gun ownership would encourage more violence. And indeed, this appears to be the case.
So start saving for your exotic summer vacation now. Pack your bags and your body armor before departing for Honduras (64.8 firearm homicide rate) ... or Jamacia (39.4) ... or Brazil (18.1).
Better yet, have a stay-cation next year and tour the U.S.A. (3.6). To stay on the safest side, stick to the red states.