Sounds logical, doesn’t? And it’s true. Violent crime may not be all caused by guns, but the fact that the U.S. boasts both the highest gun ownership rate in the world but it doesn't have the lowest violent crime rates in the world should be enough to end the idea that more guns are the solution.
Weak institutions are a cause of violence, not a lack of guns, just as violent crime mostly is a result of other factors (although, my argument is that they make matters much worse) if Mexico’s own history says anything about this. Half of our presidents in the 20th century were generals, several of them were assassinated, mostly before, during and after the Mexican Revolution, and thousands if not millions of Mexican citizens died as well after lawlessness ruled the country. Mexicans realized that the implementation of strong institutions, regulations and social security was so important and effective at reducing violent crime, that the most powerful political party and force that ruled Mexico for decades was a the Institutional Revolution Party (that this same power lead to a “perfect dictatorship” is another story).
Of course, Mexico suffers from a myriad of problems rooted in our history and economic system, but one of those problems, I can assure my American readers, isn’t the lack of guns. We have crazy people in Mexico (and by golly, we do) but rarely do they have the means to murder people in the style of Sandy Hook or Aurora. The firearms organized crime has, come mostly from outside the country, and a large amount of those from smuggling guns bought in the U.S., others from corruption within the military (that purchased them from U.S. manufacturers). A lack of institutional and social strength leads to violence, not more or less guns.
What guns have lead to, are more deaths (suicides are especially much more likely to succeed in states with higher gun-ownership than states without, as guns are much more effective at killing).
On the issue that they prevent tyranny, I can only point to the fact that while citizens may be armed with rifles and semi-automatics, tyrannical governments will have tanks and bazookas, and dictators usually succeed in amassing great power well before removing the particular obstacle of an armed citizenry (by then, they already would have achieved political and economic power). They don’t outgun democratic principals, they out-demagogue them, and criminals will usually always outgun law-abiding citizens as well. I’m not saying having a firearm for defense is not an option, it my well be and I’m a realist, but we shouldn’t start to have entire arsenals in our closets either.
Besides, who wants to live in a country ruled by fear and not by trust? Mexico suffers because nobody trusts their neighbors, and everybody fears them. My American friends should not be hoping for a day when even teachers and priest have to carry a gun to work.
I recommend Steven Pinker’s FAQ section on his webpage about a history of violence and how institutions and democracy helps prevent violence, not just guns. http://stevenpinker.com/pages/
Jose Luis Sanchez Macias is a Communications major from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California university. He has been part of the iDigital Creative Studio team in the city of Tijuana, as a Marketing Analyst and writing for some productions, as well as a collaborator on the first public television channel in the city, tvTijuana, highlighting his hosting duties in the CocinArte cooking show on the same channel, and general production assistant.
Currently, he works as a Writing and Editing Collaborator and Translator for the Bilingual Business Development Magazine, Business Conexión in Tijuana.