Firearms: Safety or Risk?

armasIt is a fact that one of the major causes of violence in Venezuela is related with the use and circulation of firearms and ammunition. For this reason, G4S Venezuela presents in this number, an issue that has caused controversy in other countries, and in Venezuela, has attracted interest from the people and public opinion on the idea of ​​producing a disarmament law to help reduce the rate of crimes caused by guns.

According to the view of some specialists, the hypothesis of having a firearm as a mechanism of protection is totally wrong because the gun acts in two ways when facing risk: first, as a desired object itself; for example: carrying a gun may be attractive to initiate a criminal assault or an attempted robbery of the gun. Second, there is a general theory that in the presence of firearms, there is a higher probability to produce violent behavior in the opposing party.

But other experts insist that the more guns there are in the hands of honest citizens of a community, it makes them safer and also, the weapons would be a powerful tool for self-defense against criminals.

In a study conducted by the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) in 2009, entitled “Disarming Violence”, it showed that in El Salvador (a country with one of the highest rates of homicides with firearms), the weapons were seen by a large segment of the population as the right tool for defense. Just over 40% of the population stated their wish to have firearms for defense and protection purposes.

However, this study concluded that the danger of using a weapon to try to confront an armed robbery is very high. According to the investigation, people who tried to use a firearm to defend themselves from an assault or armed robbery were killed in a ratio of 48 times higher than those who did not attempt it. In 65% of the cases, the victim was injured or killed when weapons were used for self-defense.

The proliferation of firearms within the population along with its treatment and control, are a constant threat at an international level. It is estimated that 75% of the weapons in the world, are out of the hands of the state. This fact directly impacts the rule of law, challenges public peace and creates instability and uncertainty in the population.

The uncontrolled arms trade and illegal possession in the hands of citizens, not only has to do with the groups that are responsible for their illegal trade, but also, in some cases, there´s also unlawful trespassing between the authorities (police and military) and the population. In fact, the diversion of arms from private and public sectors is one of the most important options that criminals and other groups have to arm themselves.

In Latin America, the numbers of homicides by firearms make the region one of the most dangerous and where more people die from firearms without being associated with armed conflicts. Out of the thirteen cities with higher rates of homicides of this kind in the world, ten of them are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which epitomizes the existence of a high flow of arms and a lack of an effective control.

Venezuela has about 4 million illegal firearms in the hands of the civilian population of the country and the deaths caused by firearms, accounted for 85% of homicides in 2011, totaling more than 16,000.

Due to this situation, the Presidential Commission for the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Disarmament has been created. This group has the mission of designing and implementing a comprehensive public policy for the processes of execution, control, regulation and disarmament that guarantees the buildup of a peace culture and the recovery of spaces for peaceful coexistence.

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