Saturday, November 22, 2008

Less Guns, More Crime

A few years ago, John Lott, whom I've had the privelege of exchanging a handful of e-mails with published a book called More Guns, Less Crime. In it, he lays out his analysis that more guns actually lead to less crime. This seems counter-intuitive, but he explains that guns are frequently employed to prevent crimes, such as a store owner scaring off a would be attacker by whipping out a .45. These crime preventions rarely get reported, so we have the mistaken belief that gun prevalence correlates to higher levels of crime. Before his writings, I was anti-gun, but also anti-gun control. Now, I have increasingly become pro-gun.

Case in point are the Somali Pirates. I was watching a news show today, where the reporter claimed that boat crews were using firehoses to fend of the Somali pirates. Let me get this straight, you are piloting a boat worth tens of millions with a cargo worth $100 million in waters known to be infested with pirates, and you don't have any guns? Maybe I'm naive, but how much would a gun turret and a few mortar tubes really cost?

Instead of putting a couple mercenaries on these boats with some high powered weaponry, we're sending warships to scour thousands of miles of open water in hopes of catching these pirates in the act. Let's do the math. As a Somali, one can barely avoid starvation in your war ravaged country by obeying international law or one can make boatloads of money, pun intended, ransoming ship cargo and risk being stopped 1 out of 50 times. Or we could have a plan where one risks a high probability of a few hundred 50 calibre bullets ripping through one's ship from a guy sitting behind an inch of steel plating. Which situation would lead a rational pirate to give up business?

Arm the Boats. More guns, less crime.

John Lott responded to my e-mail from last night with a link to a piece by the Chicago Tribune. In it they list a couple methods that ships have employed in recent years to defend themselves.
"There are some creative ways to do that. According to the International Maritime Bureau, a chemical tanker fought off pirates armed with automatic weapons by releasing foam from fire hoses into the waters around the ship. In 2005 a cruise ship used a Long Range Acoustic Device, capable of causing permanent ear damage and temporary vision loss, to fend off a pirate attack on Somalia's coast."

Update 2:
John Lott thanks me for my e-mail on his blog (at the bottom) We're totally BFF's now.

No comments: