Monday, November 30, 2015

Island Nation with Draconian Gun Laws and Murder Rates to Match: Jamaica

Jamaican Gun Court Prison

Jamaica is an island nation with draconian gun controls.  It has one of the highest murder rates on the planet.  It was not always so.  In 1962, before independence, Jamaica had a murder rate of 3.9 per 100,000 population, one of the lowest in the world.  It was lower than the U.S. murder rate of 4.6 per 100,000 in 1962.  The U.S. murder rate in 2012 was slightly lower than in 1962; 4.5 per 100,000.  Jamaica's murder rate in 2012 was 45.1, eleven times greater than it had been under British rule.  The firearms act was first passed in 1967.  Draconian enforcement of the act began in the middle 1970's.  David Kopel sums it up well:
In response to a sharply rising crime rate in Jamaica in the early 1970s, the government imposed complete gun prohibition. In fact, possession of a bullet meant a mandatory life sentence in prison. There was a special gun court where people would be tried in secret for gun possession offenses. And in conjunction with this tremendous crackdown on guns, they also did everything else that you can imagine Oliver North or Ross Perot doing to our Bill of Rights in your worst nightmares. They had gun sweeps, drug sweeps, militarized law enforcement, the government breaking into people's houses, with no probable cause at all, to look for illegal weapons and drugs. Every kind of oppressive measure you could want, censorship of violent television and movies, everything you could want in terms of "let's get really serious and crack down and get rid of all these silly constitutional liberties that are standing in the way of rough and tough law enforcement," they did. What happened was the crime rate and the homicide rate dropped substantially for the first six months. They then started to rise again, got back to their old levels, and within a few years were far ahead of their old levels, and a few years later were at double and triple the levels which had inspired this kind of crackdown in the first place.
That description was written in 1995.  Since then, the murder rates have risen even more, to peak about 2009.  Jamaica murder rates have dropped a bit since then, but have remained near the top in homicide rates around the world since the late 1990's.

In spite of its obvious failure, the Jamaican government has not backed off of its draconian gun control experiment.  Currently, the Jamaican government is in the middle of a 'Get the Guns' campaign.  It started in September of this year and has resulted in the confiscation of 130 illegal weapons and 1,500 rounds of ammunition as of a press release last Friday, the 27th of November, 2015.  That is the equivalent of a modest American gun collection.  From
The commissioner says he is pleased with the achievement as guns are used in over 80 per cent of murders committed locally.

According to Williams, in time, the recovery of the weapons will result in a reduction in major crimes.
How much time it will take is very uncertain.  The draconian laws have been in place for 40 years already.  From a story in the, it appears that a great many of the guns are coming from another country with extremely strict gun control, Haiti:
It involves collaboration with the Haitian law enforcement authorities due to the high inflow of illegal guns from the French-speaking island.
A commenter at the site indicates another source for the confiscated guns:
Mostly the home-made ones, and the rusty ones you stuff the nuzzle with gun powder! We need the WMDs Mr Commish!
An American who lived in Jamaica in 1961 reported that there was no problem in bringing a pistol to the island in 1960, or in possessing it at that time.

It is clear that the possession of guns is not the cause of the high murder rate in Jamaica.  It is the change of the government from one in which most of the population trusted the police and the application of the rule of law, into a government in which two sets of criminal gangs trade rule based on who can commit the most vote fraud in the latest elections.  Gun control is simply a ruse to distract the public from the real cause of the murders - a government that is allied with the criminal gangs, and a corrupt police force.

If draconian gun control laws have not reduced the homicide rate in an island nation over the last 40 years, and in fact, have likely contributed to the increase, there seems little reason to believe that they would decrease homicides in the United States, where the sources of guns are much greater, the potential for illegal manufacture much higher, and the Constitutional restraints on police enforcement of gun laws much stronger.

The current initiative to 'Get the Guns' is reminiscent of the gun 'buy back' events in the United States.  They are primarily for political theater, rather than any real effect on crime rates.  The number of guns needed for extremely high levels of murder are so small that they can easily be smuggled, illegally manufactured, or procured from corrupt police.

When the people trust the government and the police, murder rates drop to extremely low levels.

One significant way that a government can show that it trusts the people is to trust them with arms.   Trust is a two way street.

 ©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
Link to Gun Watch

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