Friday, November 13, 2009

Flawed Premise

I came across this story in perusing Reuters News this morning.
Venezuela destroys 30,000 guns

CARACAS (Reuters) - Battling with one of the world's highest murder rates, Venezuela on Wednesday crushed more than 30,000 guns seized from the streets during police raids this year.

Policemen used blow-torches to chop up some of shotguns and pistols. They compacted weapons including home-made pistols into a 5 ton block, said Interior Minister Tarek Al Aisammi.

"Here we have weapons captured in operations during 2009," he said on state television. "This act forms part of the disarmament policies that we have been promoting."

With 13,000 murders in 2007, the last time figures were published, violent crime consistently registers as Venezuelans' main concern in opinion polls.

Gun laws are lax in the South American oil exporter. The government estimates there are 6 million firearms circulating among the population of about 28 million. Venezuela's murder rate is about 8 times that of the United States.

Crime has risen under President Hugo Chavez, who has focused on poverty reduction to tackle violence in poor city neighborhoods.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel)
Reporter Jack Daniel has evidently bought wholesale into the liberal thoughts on gun control, or he's been hitting the Jack Daniels. The crime problem in Venezuela isn't due to the number of guns, or the gun laws, but to the corrupt Chavez government. "Lax" gun laws in many parts of the United States have no exacerbating effect on crime, and may actually reduce it. It's hard to prove reduction in crime is related to firearms policy, so I won't claim it, but it's clear that relatively unrestricted purchase and shall-issue CCW laws don't increase crime.

This isn't even a news story. Police departments worldwide regularly destroy firearms and drugs they seize. Trying to link Venezuela's crime rate to the presence of guns in the country or to their gun laws is a flawed premise. If gun laws are so relaxed, then it's hard to explain why there are home-made weapons to destroy. "They compacted weapons including home-made pistols..." Criminals would simply buy their firearms legally--but they don't.

This paragraph is especially flawed:
Gun laws are lax in the South American oil exporter. The government estimates there are 6 million firearms circulating among the population of about 28 million. Venezuela's murder rate is about 8 times that of the United States.
Anti-gun advocates say there are about 280 million privately-owned guns in the United States among a population of approximately 300 million. That means there are .26 guns per person in private hands in Venezuela, and about .93 guns per person in the U.S. So, with 3.5 times the number of guns per person in private hands in the United States, we have one-eighth the murder rate of Venezuela.

If crime rate is directly related to the number of guns in private hands, then it's clear the Venezuelan government should be handing out firearms to lawful citizens, not destroying them.


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