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.
• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, insightcrime.org. The views expressed are the author's own.
The city of Bogota has seen a significant reduction in homicides after passing a ban on carrying guns. If the two developments prove to be related, the ban could provide a model to other violence-plagued cities in the region.
On February 1, newly-elected Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro introduced a three-month ban on carrying guns in public, saying that to carry a weapon represented “not a defense mechanism, but a risk.” On April 30, Petro declared that the ban had been a success, and had contributed to a 31 percent drop in homicides when compared to the first four months of 2011. April in particular saw a particularly large drop in homicides, and with only 96 murders reported, was the most peaceful April on record in 15 years. Because of this, Petro and local army officials (the military is responsible for gun regulation in the country) announced that the ban would be extended for three more months.
If the ban continues to see success, it may prove permanent. Petro has expressed interest in this, and says that he wants to change the attitude of Colombians towards weapons, in order to “generate a culture of tolerance and love."