Violence, Guns, and Drugs: A Cross-Country Analysis
Violence rates differ dramatically across countries. A widely held view is that these differences reflect differences in gun control and/or gun availability, and certain pieces of evidence appear consistent with this hypothesis. A more detailed examination of this evidence suggests that the role of gun control/availability is not compelling. This more detailed examination, however, does not provide an alternative explanation for cross-country differences in violence. This paper suggests that differences in the enforcement of drug prohibition are an important factor in explaining differences in violence rates across countries. To determine the validity of this hypothesis, the paper examines data on homicide rates, drug prohibition enforcement, and gun control policy for a broad range of countries. The results suggest a role for drug prohibition enforcement in explaining cross-country differences in violence, and they provide an alternative explanation for some of the apparent effects of gun control/availability on violence rates. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.
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