Is Bogota's gun ban responsible for a drop in homicides?
If a new gun ban in Colombia's capital is linked to a drop in the murder rate, it could potentially serve as a model for the rest of Latin America, writes guest blogger Geoffrey Ramsey.
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Another factor which likely played into the reduction in violence were the June 2011 changes made to Bogota’s liquor laws under the previous acting mayor, Clara Lopez Obregon. The new code made it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages in liquor stores, grocery stores, and corner shops after 11 p.m., and banned the public consumption of alcohol after that time. The move is believed to have cut down on violent confrontations, as around 90 percent of reported conflicts registered in 2010 involved some degree of alcohol use.Skip to next paragraph
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In addition to these other explanations, it is simply too early to call the gun ban a success. A 31 percent drop over four months, after all, is hardly conclusive evidence that the policy has made an impact on violence in Bogota. Homicide rates are also falling in Colombia’s other major cities of Medellin and Cali, suggesting that this may be a nationwide trend, possibly related to the country’s long-term decline in unemployment.
Because Petro himself is a former guerrilla who laid down his weapons to participate in conventional politics, the gun ban is an attractive narrative, but there is simply not enough hard evidence to back his assertion that it has made an impact on violence. Indeed, attempts to concretely link the availability of weapons with homicide rates elsewhere in Latin America have proved to be problematic, meaning that at the very least a degree of skepticism is necessary before hailing Bogota’s gun ban as a policy model for reining in security in the region.
--- Geoffrey Ramsey is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region. Find all of his research here.
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