Jamaica: Draconian Gun Laws and Murder Rates

By Dean WeingartenJamaican Gun Court PrisonFacility

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Jamaica is an island nation with draconian gun controls.  It has one of the highest murder rates on the planet.  It was not always so.  In 1962, before independence, Jamaica had a murder rate of 3.9 per 100,000 population, one of the lowest in the world.  It was lower than the U.S. murder rate of 4.6 per 100,000 in 1962.  The U.S. murder rate in 2012 was slightly lower than in 1962; 4.5 per 100,000.  Jamaica's murder rate in 2012 was 45.1, eleven times greater than it had been under British rule.  The firearms act was first passed in 1967.  Draconian enforcement of the act began in the middle 1970's.  David Kopel sums it up well:

In response to a sharply rising crime rate in Jamaica in the early 1970s, the government imposed complete gun prohibition. In fact, possession of a bullet meant a mandatory life sentence in prison. There was a special gun court where people would be tried in secret for gun possession offenses. And in conjunction with this tremendous crackdown on guns, they also did everything else that you can imagine Oliver North or Ross Perot doing to our Bill of Rights in your worst nightmares. They had gun sweeps, drug sweeps, militarized law enforcement, the government breaking into people's houses, with no probable cause at all, to look for illegal weapons and drugs. Every kind of oppressive measure you could want, censorship of violent television and movies, everything you could want in terms of “let's get really serious and crack down and get rid of all these silly constitutional liberties that are standing in the way of rough and tough law enforcement,” they did. What happened was the crime rate and the homicide rate dropped substantially for the first six months. They then started to rise again, got back to their old levels, and within a few years were far ahead of their old levels, and a few years later were at double and triple the levels which had inspired this kind of crackdown in the first place.

That description was written in 1995.  Since then, the murder rates have risen even more, to peak about 2009.  Jamaica murder rates have dropped a bit since then, but have remained near the top in homicide rates around the world since the late 1990's.

In spite of its obvious failure, the Jamaican government has not backed off of its draconian gun control experiment.  Currently, the Jamaican government is in the middle of a ‘Get the Guns' campaign.  It started in September of this year and has resulted in the confiscation of 130 illegal weapons and 1,500 rounds of ammunition as of a press release last Friday, the 27th of November, 2015.  That is the equivalent of a modest American gun collection.  From jamaica-gleaner.com:

The commissioner says he is pleased with the achievement as guns are used in over 80 per cent of murders committed locally.

According to Williams, in time, the recovery of the weapons will result in a reduction in major crimes.

How much time it will take is very uncertain.  The draconian laws have been in place for 40 years already.  From a story in the jamaicaobserver.com, it appears that a great many of the guns are coming from another country with extremely strict gun control, Haiti:

It involves collaboration with the Haitian law enforcement authorities due to the high inflow of illegal guns from the French-speaking island.

A commenter at the site indicates another source for the confiscated guns:

Mostly the home-made ones, and the rusty ones you stuff the nuzzle with gun powder! We need the WMDs Mr Commish!

An American who lived in Jamaica in 1961 reported that there was no problem in bringing a pistol to the island in 1960, or in possessing it at that time.

It is clear that the possession of guns is not the cause of the high murder rate in Jamaica.  It is the change of the government from one in which most of the population trusted the police and the application of the rule of law, into a government in which two sets of criminal gangs trade rule based on who can commit the most vote fraud in the latest elections.  Gun control is simply a ruse to distract the public from the real cause of the murders – a government that is allied with the criminal gangs, and a corrupt police force.

If draconian gun control laws have not reduced the homicide rate in an island nation over the last 40 years, and in fact, have likely contributed to the increase, there seems little reason to believe that they would decrease homicides in the United States, where the sources of guns are much greater, the potential for illegal manufacture much higher, and the Constitutional restraints on police enforcement of gun laws much stronger.

The current initiative to ‘Get the Guns' is reminiscent of the gun ‘buy back' events in the United States.  They are primarily for political theater, rather than any real effect on crime rates.  The number of guns needed for extremely high levels of murder are so small that they can easily be smuggled, illegally manufactured, or procured from corrupt police.

When the people trust the government and the police, murder rates drop to extremely low levels.

One significant way that a government can show that it trusts the people is to trust them with arms.   Trust is a two way street.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 19 thoughts on “Jamaica: Draconian Gun Laws and Murder Rates

    1. The information presented here is true, but it’s only half of the story, if that. The majority of guns in Jamaica are not made clandestinely in Jamaica, they are imported from America, which produces more guns than any other country by a shit ton, including Russia. Gun control doesn’t work if there’s no way to actually stop guns from getting into a territory. It’s all part of a much bigger picture where drugs flow from central and south america and the caribbean to satisfy the enormous north american demand, and guns and cash flow back down to the places where gangs basically have as much power as the governments, and sometimes the two are intertwined through corruption. It’s always about supply and demand – laws are generally like trying to dam up a river by throwing a boulder in it: it might stop the flow for a little while, but if the impetus for crime is still there (in this case due to poverty and lack of legal economic opportunity, plus slingin rock is just an easier way to make a lot of money), then the dam is eventually going to overflow and just find new paths around the boulder.

      PS – if you think that crime is just inherently tied to race for some genetic reason or something, then you’re a fool who has no understanding of either economics or history. Keep your opinion to yourself if you’re not willing to learn the whole story.

        1. Because. If you had a race to run but had to start well behind everyone else, you’d be pretty upset. And that’s what slavery did.

          1. To put it anothr way – it’s not a “black” ppl thing it’s a “poor people thing”. Same reason poor whites kill others when “economy is good”. Good economy for middle class upward doesnt equate to good economy for the poor.

            The fact someone has to explain this in 2018 shows how inherent racism is

            1. The thing is though, it’s not like the poor people are becoming poorer. As an overall trend, the upper, middle and lower class are all on an upward trend. Therefore a good economy for the middle class does equate to a good economy for the poor.

            2. Bullshit, there are opportunities for poor people we have the highest new millionaire rates ever, people have opportunities, people choose crime because too lazy to put forth effort. If you do 3 things you will not stay poor.
              1. Finish h.s. ( which is free)
              2. Dont have children before marriage.
              3. Get a job.
              These 3 things almost guarantee you wont stay poor.

          2. It’s not tied to race, it’s (mostly) tied to poverty. That’s why poor whites kill each other. How many blacks in England, Russia etc. Do White americans kill each other.

            You can’t reason with racists, but anyone who sees these “statistics” needs to understand what they truly say.

    2. Hi Mr Weingarten

      I am writing a report on gun violence in countries that have experienced gun control, to legitimise and present an argument about the lessening of gun control in my country of South Africa. Would you please be so kind as to provide me with the sources that resulted in the statistics you have given here? I am having trouble finding these things on my own.

      Kind regards and thanks
      Jonathan Wright

    3. People refuse to see the big Black elephant in the room. Jamaica has extremely high gun violence rates despite
      strict anti-gun laws because it’s made up of Blacks. Brazil, where guns are illegal, has high gun violence rates because it has more Blacks and Latin criminals. Canada, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland have low murder rates despite firearms being legal. American Whites have murder rates the same as Whites in the UK or Belgium, only difference is that American Whites are more likely to use a gun to commit murder but their murder rates are no higher. . In the USA, if you removed Black gun crime and the gun crime committed by Mexican gangs/criminals, our criminal gun violence rates would drop by 94-95%.(I’m excluding suicide which is counted in with gun violence in America). American Whites have murder rates the same as Whites in the UK or Belgium.

      1. White people use different methods to murder like poison which is very hard to detect
        White people DO A LOT OF MURDER BY POISON
        I know this because I am being gangstalked
        The gun is used as propaganda to put the people in fear mode and too behave
        It’s WAR tactics

    4. The point that the reader should take away from this article is that gun control, even the most stringent kind, does NOT prevent violence. For the record, I lived in Kingston Jamaica during 1980 and 81, and have continued to travel there regularly ever since.

    5. @Robert Henry

      I should have known that Jamaica’s sky-high murder rate is the fault of the CIA — especially operations 45 years ago.


    6. I grew up in Jamaica, during the ERA described by the author 1967 to 1978, and I maintain close ties with my extended family there. There is one undeniable fact that the author does not address. The vast majority of murders committed are political/gang murders. The guns used to commit the murders weren’t really present in 1962. Guns became readily available in the early 70s when the CIA began running guns in order to destabilize the pro Castro socialist government of then Prime Minister Michael Manley. His party the PNP then took up arms to win turf against the JLP, and these factors combined with a rising poverty rate conspired to produce a spiraling murder rate during times of elections. The emergence of the drug smuggling as a major source of foreign exchange, and the formation and organization of these gangs, by native and external forces also greatly contributed to the murder phenomenon.
      Guns have always been widely available in Jamaica to those who can afford them, criminals, police, and the well to do.

    7. Ya, I think we should hear the story of how Ross and Oliver screwed the bill of rights.
      That’s riddling me, and distracted my attention to the rest of the article.

    8. Rusty, you spoke my thoughts EXACTLY; The author must have a burr in his panties about Oliver for some reason.
      Bandit makes some good points also.

    9. Thanks for the article! Like the saying goes, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. This “Bad Guy” can also extend to include the government. Our Second Amendment is designed to do just this! Thanks again for the info. JimmyD

    10. “…everything else that you can imagine Oliver North or Ross Perot doing to our Bill of Rights in your worst nightmares.”

      I will admit to having no such nocturnal projections and am curious as to what indignities he thought either of these men would subject the Bill of Rights to.

    11. This is the type of gun control that our current DICTATORwants for this country, of course if that were to happen the crime rate would skyrocket to levels never before seen in this nations history. Of course all the crimes that are being committed are because of those hordes of guns that are running loose a chasing people all over the place “sarc”. What we need to do in this country is stomp down hard on the criminals (the gangs and those pesky mazlamz), if we were to do that the crime rate in this country will drop so would these large scale shootings. Of course that would also mean bringing back the death penalty, other countries use it and often so we should as well..

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