November 8, 2011

Guest blog: Poverty equals crime

Honduran house

The following is a guest response to "Crime is out of Control in Honduras":

I took the time to read your thoughts on the ongoing violence in Honduras and I can add that the only way things are going to get better in Honduras is by getting as many people out of poverty as possible.

This rampant poverty, lack of education and lack opportunities drives some young people to become delinquents and gang members. They grow up to become thieves and killers. They grow up to believe the only way to get ahead is by going against the system and taking advantage of those who can be taken advantage of. They feel above the law because many of them are members of the law themselves, members of the government themselves, or they work for a corrupt government official or corrupt law enforcement official.

And if they don't work for anyone but themselves, they chose to be criminals because they know they can get away with it as police forces are incapable of pursuing every law breaker out there. Unless the government focuses its resources on purging the system and washing out the scum and worthless, the government will continue to be in the crapper, and in turn, everyone else in the country.

I was watching CNN en Español sometime before the events at the San Pedro Sula airport, and they were talking about the constant and prevalent violence in Honduras. The CNN anchorwoman opened her news story by saying "In Honduras, where every adult citizen is entitled to own up to five firearms, crime and violence continues to dominate". Her opening statement was to point out that Honduras was a society allowed to be armed as to imply that the fact that citizens have the legal right to own weapons, that it may be a contributor to the violence.

In reality, legal ownership of firearms is not the real contributor to crime or violence since many of these crimes and killings are committed with weapons of illicit origin or illegal to be in the hands of civilians.

Committing acts of violence is already a crime and killing is already a crime so clearly passing laws that penalize this or that won't make any difference in a society and culture where killing is the norm. People don't commit murder because there's a law that allows them to own a gun (we know the weapons used in crimes are of the illicit nature to begin with) nor do they commit murder because it isn't illegal (it is illegal, we all know that), they kill because they have been raised in a culture where it's okay to do whatever you have to do to get by and because they know the chances of being caught and punished for their crimes are slim.

The government can pass all the laws they want or even take away the right to bear arms entirely since they could as gun ownership is not a constitutional right in Honduras, but it would still not reduce crime. There are already thousands of illegal guns in the hands of criminals and as long as the laws are not enforced and police forces are not properly equipped with the funding, the manpower, a descent salary, the equipment and the tools to do their jobs, thugs will continue to rule the streets.

— The author lives in the United States, lived in Honduras for several years before, has traveled back and forth to Honduras since 1994, and is familiar with Honduran culture and its people. He graciously consented to the publishing of his response to "Crime is out of control in Honduras". Your comments are welcome.
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