So it seems to be that, since the string of deadly mass-shootings over the last year in the USA (Sandy Hook, Aurora, etc.) the whole pro-guns versus no-guns debate has been a pretty hot button issue – or maybe it’s just because I’m spending insane amounts of my life revising US politics at the moment. I’m not all that sure anymore…
Anyway, as far as I can see the debate, the most developed and almost convincing argument from the Pro-Gun arena is that they can enable an individual to protect themselves, and their rights and liberties, from an over-powerful or tyrannical government.
Generally, the people making this argument refer back to the American Revolutionary War, which may well have been a war won simply because the Americans had more guns, and were more skilled at using them, than the British. However, that was around 230 years ago, and I think that it’s more helpful to look at more modern examples when considering how, in a modern world, guns should be treated.
So I figured – let’s take a look at the most recent examples of revolutions that can be found in the Arab Spring (all info from this bit can be found here!) First I thought of Tunisia, whose people had overthrown Ben Ali pretty quickly: turns out that there is 0.01 civilian-owned guns per 100 people, and the police alone (that’s not including the armed forces) have 20 times as many guns as all the civilians combined.
These kind of figures stay relatively the same throughout the Arab Spring countries – Egyptians have 3.5 guns per 100 people, and the entire armed forces have twice the amount of total civilian guns; in Syria there are 3.9 guns per 100 people; and in Libya the figure is higher at 15.5 guns per 100 people.
And yes, I did the obligatory North Korea check – apparently it’s 0.6 guns per 100 people there. Making them (as according to the Pro-Gunners) of the world, far more likely to have a successful revolution that Tunisia. Hmmmm…..
But here is where it gets interesting (as if I wasn’t thrilling you all already!) Bahrain has a figure 0f 24.8 guns per 100 people. Which, if you’ve been paying attention, is a whole lot more than any of the other Arab Spring countries. On top of that the total number of civilian guns there is 180,000 – whereas the total for the defense and policing forces is 19,600. That makes the government outnumbered almost eighteen guns to two.
So, this all begs the question to the pro-gun lobby – why weren’t the people of Bahrain successful in their revolution? And how did the people of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya manage to topple their respective governments with such little fire power behind them?