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Gun Control: It’s the Software, Stupid, Not the Hardware

After Newtown, the case for gun control seems irresistible. Except that facts, worldwide, do not validate it.

by
Michel Gurfinkiel

Bio

December 20, 2012 - 7:53 am
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The homicide rate in the United States is even lower when firearm-only intentional homicides are taken into account: 3.2 per 100,000.

What about the countries that follow the United States on the weapons-owning index?

The second country, Serbia, reports 58.2 guns for 100 residents; Serbia’s homicide rate is very low: 1.2. The third country, Yemen, where the guns to residents ratio is 54.8 per 100, the homicide rate is 4.2, same as in the U.S. The fourth country, Switzerland, has 45.7 guns per 100 residents, and a very low 0.7 homicide rate.

One may infer from such data that homicide, including massacres, is not a matter of hardware but rather of software: weapons are not conducive to violence; what makes them dangerous is a violence-oriented culture.

A way to double check this assumption is to look into regional statistics where they are available.

Clearly, there are differences in America from state to state, both in terms of gun control and of homicide. There is not much correlation, however, between gun control, gun availability, and homicide. But there is a correlation between a low homicide rate and a vibrant community life. Utah and New Hampshire are the two least homicidal states in the United States, with, respectively, 1.3 and 0.8 homicides per 100,000 residents. So far, none of them is tilting toward gun control. But both of them are based, in their respective way, on strong community values.

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Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-thank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.
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