Saturday, January 05, 2013


I'm sure the gun absolutists will either ignore or try to pick apart Elisabeth Rosenthal's New York Times story on guns in Latin America, but if she's right, she's making an interesting point about the gunners' preferred solution for the violence problem in the U.S.:
I recently visited some Latin American countries that mesh with the N.R.A.'s vision of the promised land, where guards with guns grace every office lobby, storefront, A.T.M., restaurant and gas station. It has not made those countries safer or saner.

Despite the ubiquitous presence of "good guys" with guns, countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia and Venezuela have some of the highest homicide rates in the world....

In 2011, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras led the world in homicides, with 91.6 per 100,000 people. But rates were also alarmingly high in El Salvador (69.1), Jamaica (40.9), Colombia (31.4) and Guatemala (38.5). Venezuela's was 45.1 in 2010 but is expected to be close to to 80 this year. The United States' rate is about 5.

THOUGH many of these countries have restrictions on gun ownership, enforcement is lax. According to research by Flasco, the Guatemalan Social Science Academy, illegal guns far outnumber legal weapons in Central America.

All that has spawned a thriving security industry -- the good guys with guns that grace every street corner -- though experts say it is often unclear if their presence is making crime better or worse. In many countries, the armed guards have only six weeks of training.
A quote from the story:
"A society that is relying on guys with guns to stop violence is a sign of a society where institutions have broken down," said Rebecca Peters, former director of the International Action Network on Small Arms. "It's shocking to hear anyone in the United States considering a solution that would make it seem more like Colombia."
Or maybe it isn't so shocking. The gun lobby is part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. The NRA has long been in bed with the pro-plutocrat lobbyists of ALEC. I'm not sure there's a conscious strategy at work here, but is it really surprising that plutocracy advocates want to hollow out America's middle class and create a class structure more like those in Latin America (where U.S. corporations have traditionally found cheap, willing workers), while their pro-gun allies want us seeing one another as (literally) mortal enemies, while we lose focus on what the plutocrats are doing to us economically?

Is it unreasonable to see these as two aspects of the Third World-ization of America?


Victor said...

You're completely reading this situation wrong.

What no one wants to talk about, is that the gun problems in Latin America stem from the ipso facto fact that they speak Latin, and not American.

If they spoke "Gool Ol' Homeland" American, those countries would be just as safe as we armed Americans are in our ever up-arming America!

How do you translate and conjugate, "Don't shoot me! I'm good guy!!!", into Latin?

I'll give you XXX seconds.

M. Bouffant said...

Other third-world aspects of a gun in every school. It's a win-win situation for the feudalists.

Examinator said...

As I understand it you are 'on the money'...
I would posit that evidence from O/S suggests two things.
First the murder rate has more to do with extreme in equity and particularly the extreme poverty/deprivation of the poor.
I find balled stats (those lacking contexts) as 'the murder rate' so generalised as to be ripe for abuse/ deliberate misinterpretation to suit a private agenda (NRA).
e.g. If one bothers to examine the Australian figures (they have enforced firearm CONTROL laws)one finds that their murder rate is lower it isn't extraordinarily so (relatively speaking).
BUT what is conveniently ignored by the NRA is proportion of 'Firearm related deaths' (note the wording) are included in the murder rate.This is simply because of the way stats are collected. For the more nuanced in the audience this includes accidental deaths and suicides.
Secondly the larger amounts of actual Fire arm murders in Aust. are Criminal on Criminal. Very few bystander etc. And it's been nearly 20 years since there was a mass shooting of innocents e.g. Hook Creek et al.And even before that such mass murders were Like hen's teeth (rare! 3 since the 1960's and only one where the number of victims exceeded 8).
It is not unreasonable to suggest that in all the countries you mentioned the major driving force behind the firearm deaths/ murders are poverty/ deprivation of opportunities to rise above it by 'reasonable' means. This can be demonstrated by plotting the areas where most base level crime is worse(the low rent areas).
Interesting it has been noted when public housing is dispersed, integrated into middle class areas the children statistically tend to do better than in ghettoised poverty...the answer is the availability of opportunity (local prejudices aside).

Examinator said...

This is a terrific topic in that it has the seeds of a real meaningful discussion that might result in something worth while.
Clearly there is much more I could add to the pot but I fear it may be too effort draining to read/ absorb. For the 'titillation squad' or the 'armchair political regurgitator'

Steve M. said...

All good points. It's interesting that in gun-controlled New York City, the suicide rate is quite low: one-fourth the national average, in fact.

marieburns said...

I would add fundamentalist religion to the mix: no matter how low we go, "God never gives us more than we can handle," and if our "freedoms" mean thousands of innocents get slaughtered by gun-toting shoppers & untrained "guards," well, it's just that much sooner the victims will be "angels in heaven."

Make reality intolerable for most Americans, but promise things will be great "on the other side." Now, there's a lovely twist on American optimism.

The Constant Weader at

Ten Bears said...

Setting aside the crude yet not necessarily inaccurate visuals "Third World" is a daily reality on The Rez.

Examinator said...

The key deliberate tactic of the right (sic)(NRA) is to confuse the goals (SPIN TACTIC).
i.e. Fire arm control isn't about stopping murders period.
hence their quoting similar murder rates etc.
The reality is That fire arm control is about reducing unnecessary deaths and particularly in the case of all but one horrendous anomaly in those countries with this sort of control....The MASSIVE REDUCTION OF MASS INNOCENTS SHOOTING.
As I've said before which is more tolerable 'son goes nuts and stabs his Mom' or What IS Hook Creek?
If we want to eliminate or reduce crime shootings then we need to reel in the capitalist notion that what the people want they can have...regardless of the consequences.
Likewise we need to look at the better wealth distribution,less extremes, more equity not necessarily equality (There is a BIG difference).
Have a look at the TV how many shows show 'justified (sic) brutal killings?
What's Christian in that?
God (s) only know what this is justifying in the minds of the less rational members of our society.
I observe that it's not just the violence but it's ever increasing SIMPLISTIC FIXATION on it as an acceptable solution.
I never cease being bemused by the firearm nuts that rant about killing intruders ....without any inkling of the consequences to them and their family.
Again the gods know how many people I've counselled after such shootings. I can tell you authoratively the effect on the other family members after a shooting (death or not)is Horrendous.
Consider for example how many (trained and conditioned) VETS have issues neuroses, break downs, PTSD and suicides.
BTW what is rarely discussed is the the police who have similar issues and similar results. SWAT squad members have high burnout rates.
Frankly many Firearm nutters if put in the position would probably freeze, fire wildly but more likely have a life time of issues.
If this wasn't true why do they imagine the above forces have minimum standards including psych tests.?
Simply put business doesn't care their job is to sell more and make more profit!