The National Rifle Association and other gun rights organizations like to point to Israel and Switzerland as countries that because of their gun ownership have reduced crime. Unfortunately, the United States surpasses them in both gun ownership and gun murders leaving a gaping hole in their reasoning of an armed civilian population to reduce crime.
Mandatory military service
Gun enthusiasts are quick to point out that both Israel and Switzerland have compulsory military training for almost all young men. The U.S. went to an all volunteer armed services in 1973. Conscription into the military, gun activists cite, breeds familiarity and respect for firearms and helps to reduce gun violence. Of course, this doesn’t account for the record number of suicides the U.S. Armed Forces have seen in 2012.
It’s not over-crowding
It would seem only natural that Israel and Switzerland might have higher murder and gun violence rates based on their population statistics. Compared to the United States, they are trying to pack a whole lot of people in a tiny space. Estimates for 2012 show Israel with a population of 7.9 million people or 925 persons per square mile, while Switzerland records 8 million people at 477 persons per square mile. By contrast, the United States averages 87 persons per square mile with over 315 million people.
Does socialism lead to fewer murders?
The lack of gun violence in Israel and Switzerland probably has more to do with culture and government than gun ownership. Both Israel and Switzerland are tolerant of the variety of native languages that are spoken by their citizens. In the United States we mostly hear about denying immigrants the ability to speak in their native tongue. From U.S. government perspective, both Israel and Switzerland are both fairly socialistic. Israel and Switzerland each have universal healthcare and robust social safety nets that are actively trying to be cut in the United States.
Second amendment red herring
Oddly enough, neither Israel nor Switzerland has enshrined gun ownership rights into their government foundations. Israel doesn’t have a constitution but series of Basic Laws. Switzerland, in addition to having one of the first European constitutions, just completely updated it in 1999. No where in one the newest most modern constitutions in the world are gun rights mentioned. Both these countries sport lower gun deaths even with a lack of fundamental human right to gun ownership.
State of war has no bearing on civilian murders
Israel has been in a state war with its neighbors for decades and has battled terrorism on their soil for just as long. Even with the constant threat of terrorist attacks, Israel has one of the lowest gun ownership statistics among the three countries. Switzerland, on the other hand, has not been in a war since 1815 and is exceedingly proud of its longstanding position of neutrality in most armed conflicts and wars. The state of war within a country seems to have little influence gun murders in these countries as well.
Where does the paranoia for gun ownership come from?
The United States, by contrast, has virtually no terrorist threat compared to Israel and friendly neighbors, yet we have ten times the gun ownership of Israel and almost twice that of Switzerland. And for all our fire power and protection, we still have three to four times as many murders as those other countries. The final analysis refutes any correlation between gun ownership and reduced murder rates. All the evidence points to increased gun ownership increases the likelihood of increased murders. Those folks promoting gun rights need to recognize that neither Israel nor Switzerland are case studies that shows reduce murder through private gun ownership.
From PubMed citation
Gun utopias? Firearm access and ownership in Israel and Switzerland.
Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
The 2011 attempted assassination of a US representative renewed the national gun control debate. Gun advocates claim mass-casualty events are mitigated and deterred with three policies: (a) permissive gun laws, (b) widespread gun ownership, (c) and encouragement of armed civilians who can intercept shooters. They cite Switzerland and Israel as exemplars. We evaluate these claims with analysis of International Crime Victimization Survey (ICVS) data and translation of laws and original source material. Swiss and Israeli laws limit firearm ownership and require permit renewal one to four times annually. ICVS analysis finds the United States has more firearms per capita and per household than either country. Switzerland and Israel curtail off-duty soldiers’ firearm access to prevent firearm deaths. Suicide among soldiers decreased by 40 per cent after the Israeli army’s 2006 reforms. Compared with the United States, Switzerland and Israel have lower gun ownership and stricter gun laws, and their policies discourage personal gun ownership.
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