If gun control worked, Jamaica would be a true tropical paradise. The island nation has incredibly restrictive gun control laws, with fewer than 45,000 legally owned firearms among the nation’s 3-million residents, but the nation’s homicide rate is one of the worst in the world; 47 homicides per 100,000 people in 2018, compared to the U.S. homicide rate of 5 per 100,000. Of course, to hear anti-gun activists explain it, the reason for Jamaica’s violence is simple: it’s the lack of gun control laws in the United States that’s leading to violent crime in Jamaica. As the New York Times opined last year:
The Jamaican authorities, who estimate that 200 guns are smuggled into the country from the United States every month, routinely ask American officials to examine some of the weapons they seize in raids, during traffic stops or at the ports.
Of the nearly 1,500 weapons the A.T.F. checked from 2016 through 2018, 71 percent came from the United States.
The figures are similar in Mexico, which has been lobbying the United States for more than a decade to stop the illegal guns flowing south. By some estimates, more than 200,000 guns are trafficked into Mexico each year, many to feed the vast criminal networks fighting over the multibillion-dollar drug trade to the United States.
But here in Jamaica, the killings are rarely driven by such enormous profits. The drug trade has fallen from its heyday, organized crime has been fractured and most of the historic kingpins have been killed or imprisoned.
Instead, the guns in Jamaica are often used in petty feuds, neighborhood beefs and turf wars that go back decades, to when political parties authored the majority of the country’s violence.
The answer, according to the New York Times, is for the United States to adopt the same gun control laws that have been ineffective in reducing violent crime in Jamaica. Only by cracking down on legal gun ownership in the United States will we be able to crack down on shootings in places like Kingston or Portland.