Amnesty, Accidentally:

AI's new report on the arms trade is available now. You can tell that this is going to be an unbiased and careful study by the title, "Shattered Lives." (Warning! This is a 3.2 meg .pdf file. If your computer can't handle that, you can get the report in small pieces from the Amnesty website.)

Nevertheless, buried in this report was some excellent news:

There are approximately 639 million small arms in the world today, produced by more than 1,135 companies in at least 98 countries. Eight million new weapons are produced every year. Nearly 60 per cent of small arms are in civilian hands.
"Small Arms" for AI's purpose is any kind of weapon that you can use yourself. The next category up is "light arms," which is that category of weapons the military calls "Crew-served," because you need a crew to operate them. AI reserves "heavy weapons" for tanks and such.

Sixty percent of these weapons are in civilan hands, they say--that will be about 383 million weapons. Now, I believe that the US accounts for most of those--about 223 million, according to the US Dept. of Justice (US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Guns Used in Crime, 7/95, from ATF data. I rush to add that the report is titled "Guns Used In Crime," but 223 million is only the estimated total number of guns in America).

The US is demonstrably more stable than the regions to which Amnesty devotes its attention. There are no large bands of roving brigands in the US, excepting of course in those areas (South Central LA, parts of downtown Washington D.C., etc.) in which we have strict gun control. So, AI's report shows that the secret to stability apparently includes guns in civilian hands, does it not? 'A rifle and revolver in every house' should be our motto, and see how quickly that puts paid to brigands in Africa and Ba'athists in Iraq.

Up the militia!

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