Guns and Homicides
20th, March 2013
Cases of homicide exist in various countries. However, the prevalence of these cases in different countries varies. While some countries register high cases of homicide, in others, these cases are minimal. The governments of these different countries show concern over homicide cases. Therefore, most governments have looked for ways of ensuring that homicide rate in their countries is as low as possible. In order to ensure this, different strategies are adopted which will keep homicide cases in check. As a fact, most governments have linked homicide with guns and gun ownership in their countries. Therefore, to reduce homicide cases in their countries, some governments have considered banning gun ownership. Therefore, this shows that these governments believe that homicide is normally committed using guns only. The issue of guns and homicide has raised concerns in the previous years, and is still debated, especially when the USA recently undertook a move to ban gun ownership in the country. Nonetheless, considering the statistics from different countries about their gun ownership status and levels of homicide, it is clear that fewer guns in society does not mean fewer homicides.
Homicide and murder are two different elements. Although both involve killing, their difference rests in the motivation behind the killing. While in murder, a person kills due to malicious motives, in homicide, the killer kills for no reason. There have been many incidences this year and in the past years, where people engage in mass shootings in schools, in movie theatres, and in places of worship. This is considered homicide, since the killer has no malicious motive when he or she shoots at the people and kills them. In the USA, such incidences are ones that motivated the government to consider proclaiming a gun ownership ban in the country, in order to prevent such incidences from occurring in the future (Beeghley, 2003).
Generally, lawmakers have started getting interested in controlling amount of guns in the population after the incident at Newtons, believing that, the fewer the guns, the safer the population. However, it is important to understand the correlation between gun ownership and reduced homicide. This can be answered using various statistics showing the safety situation in different world countries, with regard to gun ownership. Homicide can be committed using a gun, or any other weapon capable of killing. However, it is easier to commit homicide using a gun. Therefore, if the number of guns in the population is reduced, this would either result in increased or reduced cases of homicide in the population (Squires, 2012).
When many people in a country are allowed to own guns, these have the opportunity to practice self-defense. Therefore, in such a country, there will be fewer cases of robberies, murder, and assaults, since the people can defend themselves, using their guns. As mentioned earlier, homicides are committed either using firearms or using other different weapons. Therefore, if a country regulates the number of guns in the population, this will eventually serve to reduce the cases of homicides, which are committed using guns. On the other hand, this will increase homicide committed using other weapons, apart from guns. What remains is that countries where there are more guns in the population might be safer and experience less violence due to different reasons. Similarly, countries with fewer guns in the population might also experience high rates of homicide, and other killings, because citizens cannot defend themselves in such cases (Squires, 2012).
Two criminologists, Don Kates and Mauser Gary conducted an intensive study about the gun laws in America and Europe and their rates of violence. Their findings generally showed that in countries where there is gun control, thus, low guns in the population, experienced high rates of homicide and other murder cases, while in countries with no gun control, thus more guns in society, the homicide and murder rates were lower. These two researchers studied nine European countries, which have low guns in the population due to government regulation of gun ownership. In these countries, gun ownership stood at 5,000 or less guns per 100,000 people. Results showed that these nine European countries have very high homicide and murder rates, equivalent to the homicide rates of that are three times higher than those of nine other different countries, which have the highest number of guns in the population, which stood at 15.000 guns in every 100,000 number of people (‘The American Civil Rights Union,’ n.d).
The results of their study also showed that Norway had highest number of guns in its population in all Western Europe regions yet registered the lowest rate of homicide and murder. This contrasted with Holland, which is also in Western Europe. In Holland, there was the minimal number of guns in society. However, this country registered the highest rate of homicides and murder. Similarly, in Russia, the number of murder and homicide were four times those of the USA and twenty times higher than Norway. This is despite the fact that in Russia, private ownership of guns was banned. Therefore, the homicides and murders in Russian are mostly non-firearms. Therefore, the researchers concluded that fewer guns in the population leads to high rates of homicide and murder, while many guns in the population results in reduced cases of homicide and murder (‘The American Civil Rights Union,’ n.d).
The Guardian presents further statistics on number of guns in the population versus the rates of homicide and crime. The guardian presents a spreadsheet, where there is data on the number of guns in every 100 people, as well as the rate of homicides by firearms, in different countries. From the results, it is clear that the country with the highest number of guns in the population is the USA, with approximately 88 guns per 100 people. However, this country does not register the highest rates of homicide. Instead, higher rates of homicide are found in Jamaica and Honduras. This proves that many guns in the population do not lead to increased homicides (‘The Guardian,’ n.d).
Conclusively, fewer guns in the population do not automatically lead to lower rates of homicide. The different statistics have shown that in most countries with fewer guns in the population, their rates of homicide were higher compared to countries with higher numbers of guns in the population. Therefore, in dealing with increased rates of homicide, it might not be very sensible for a government to consider a ban on firearms, as the statistics have shown. After all, guns do not kill, but the people. Therefore, the problem lies in the people, and their psychology, and not in guns. Therefore, homicide rates might be lowered in a country if the government ensures that its people are in the right psychological status.
The American Civil Rights Union. (n.d). Harvard Study: Gun Control Is Counterproductive.
Retrieved from http://theacru.org/acru/harvard_study_gun_control_is_counterproductive/
The Guardian. (n.d). Gun homicides and gun ownership listed by country. Retrieved from
Beeghley, L. (2003). Homicide: A Sociological Explanation. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Squires, P. (2012). Gun Culture or Gun Control?: Firearms and Violence: Safety and Society.
New York: Routledge.
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