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Thread: Gun ownership said to parallel city security

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    http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/...109030020/1003



    GENEVA — Last week, professor Keith Krause, program director of the Small Arms Survey at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, discussed the findings of the Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City with The Washington Times reporter John Zarocostas. The annual report on global small-arms violence is funded by United States, European governments and the United Nations.


    Question: The survey shows a worldwide increase of civilians holding small arms. You estimate that 650 million small arms, 75 percent of the total 875 million worldwide, are owned by civilians. What's behind this?

    Answer: I think there's lots of reasons, but the main one is generally increasing wealth in some parts of the world that make people able to buy weapons and, frankly, the failure of many states to provide for the security of individuals and their communities, which leads to raising insecurity in urban zones, especially in some parts of Africa and Latin America.

    Q: Does carrying a gun convey a false sense of security?

    A: Certainly the research shows that holding a gun does not make you safer. But you can understand the reasons that will lead people to try to ensure their protection when there's no police force or when there's nothing else to provide for security of their communities or of their families and their property. But it's clear in many parts of Africa and Latin America, where guns have flooded in the communities, the community as a whole is often less secure because the overall rates of violence have gone up and the intensity of the violence has gone up in some places.

    Q: The report records staggering figures for Brazil with 45,000 murders.

    A: That figure is the murders overall. Not all are attributed to firearms. The vast majority are [due to] firearms in Brazil, and they're concentrated both geographically and within particular cities and parts of the country. That raises some difficult questions about how you tackle a problem that is not national in scope but really is concentrated in the border areas, in the favelas of the big cities and in some areas where there's drug trafficking in gangs and all sorts of other illicit commerce going on.


    Q: Why the strong correlation between the increase in the size of cities, especially mega-cities, and increased numbers of armed homicides?

    A: We wanted to highlight there's a shift happening because historically, cities were safer places than the countryside. They were better policed, they were easier to manage, and there were social controls. But with the rise of these mega-cities that have eight, ten, twenty million people, many of whom are living in shantytowns that we wouldn't recognize as cities, this is a very new dynamic and it creates zones of insecurity — no-go zones where the police don't even travel into cities — and it creates the conditions that can give rise to a lot of violence, not everywhere, but in a lot of cities.

    Q: Is there an increasing trend of certain (younger) age groups holding more guns from your studies?

    A: We don't have enough evidence to know how that may have changed over time. But what we do know is that the principal vector for violence is young men. Young men are both the perpetrators and the victims in the vast majority of cases of firearms used. And that is something that also needs to be paid attention to — where there's large numbers of young men living in situations of economic inequality and lack of opportunity, the gun and crime in general is a way out and seen the only avenue.

    Q: Are there different civilian firearm-violence patterns between developed countries in Western Europe and North America and developing countries in Africa and Latin America?

    A: Again, the trend varies by region. One thing that is clearly a problem in Latin America is high levels of interlinked gang violence and violence over control of the drug trade. It's led, in countries like Guatemala, to higher levels of armed homicide than during the civil war. In parts of Africa, the violence has not reached that level with gangs, and it's much more associated with political struggles between communities with militias and armed gangs and sometimes so-called defense militias that take the law into their own hands, and that's not the same thing as in Latin America.

    Q: The data show a big difference in the price of a machine gun like a Kalashnikov, which is relatively expensive in Western Europe, averaging $471 each, but the same gun can be bought for about $156 in Africa. Why?

    A: That is a very clear indicator of the levels of control. The prices are overall lowest in Africa and that means the arms are flowing relatively freely. They are relatively higher in Asia and quite high in Western Europe, which tells you there are good controls and these weapons do not move around freely.

    Q: What are some of the lessons for governments and communities to improve the control of small arms?

    A: One thing we do know is that purely coercive efforts have very limited utility — a crackdown and strong enforcement — unless they are accompanied with genuine security building, better policing or better street lighting in some cases, cracking down on gangs and then making it safe for people to go on about their daily lives, and you can shift the dynamic. It has happened in some cities in Latin America, such as Cali and Bogota, that were very violent. They have made great progress. And it's usually through a combination of sharp crackdowns with reform of the security and policing systems so that you do have security in communities and in cities.

    Q: Are you seeing improvements in gun-related violence in the United States?

    A: It's a very mixed picture. There's been a dramatic decline in armed homicides in such places as New York City. Probably the highest levels of armed violence in the U.S. are now occurring in medium-sized cities such as Gary, Indiana. It's a bit paradoxical that this is occurring in smaller cities of 100,000 to 500,000 people. One of the reasons is that many of these cities are struggling socioeconomically.

    Q: Your research indicates a country can have a low per-capita gun ownership, like the United Kingdom, and also increasing armed homicides. Can you elaborate?

    A: The first lesson to know is that there is no simple equation between weapons availability and weapons misuse in any country. That's true worldwide. In the case of the U.K., you have tight regulations and low levels of gun ownership. What you have is a vector — a network of some criminal gangs — and some gangs operating in the poor suburbs, and of course they are having access to weapons being smuggled in.

    Q: To what extent is there availability or leakage of small arms to civilians due to corruption by the military or police authorities?

    A: Leakage and diversion is very extensive. There are examples from all regions of the world. It's partly because the armed forces and police are badly paid, or sometimes not paid at all, so selling their weapons is often the only thing they can do to earn their salary. But it's more than that. It's the fact that many states have failed to maintain proper control over their arsenals and this has created a pool of weapons that circulate.

    Q: What's the annual international trade in small arms?

    A: Our best estimate of the legal trade is about $4 billion a year, of which about one-third or so of that is ammunition, and there is, in addition, the black-market trade.

    Q:How much is that?

    A: We previously estimated that around $1 billion a year. I think it's lower than that to be honest. But it's made up of large numbers of very small transactions.




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    http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/files...yearb2007.html

    Our flagship publication is an annual review of global small arms issues and themes. The Small Arms Survey is recognized as the principal international source of impartial and reliable information on all aspects of small arms. Its blend of information and analysis makes it an indispensable resource for policy-makers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations.
    Summaries of ten chapters and more are available in .pdf from the URL

    Either we are equal or we are not. Good people ought to be armed where they will, with wits and guns and the truth. NRA *******

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    Well, I guess it's as impartial as one can hope for a gun-related study these days...


    Doug Huffman wrote:
    Q: Are you seeing improvements in gun-related violence in the United States?

    A: It's a very mixed picture. There's been a dramatic decline in armed homicides in such places as New York City. Probably the highest levels of armed violence in the U.S. are now occurring in medium-sized cities such as Gary, Indiana. It's a bit paradoxical that this is occurring in smaller cities of 100,000 to 500,000 people. One of the reasons is that many of these cities are struggling socioeconomically.
    Couldn't this be due to the fact that there are better medical facilities in large cities? I was reading something a while ago about how Washington, D.C.'s decreasing homocide rate is due to their newest trauma unit's ability to save the lives of victims, downgrading the crimes from homocide to assault or such. Just a thought... But of course, that wouldn't fit in with the anti-gun agenda of pretty much everyone these days.

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