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Latin America first in homicides

If you were to guess the region of the world with the most firearms murders, you might think first of the Middle East or Africa. But you'd be wrong.

According to a story in the Madrid newspaper El País, Latin America has more homicides, 42 percent of the global total, than any other part of the planet. And the reason, according to Carola Concaro, an investigator at the Institute of Comparative Studies of Social and Criminal Sciences of Argentina:  small firearms.

"Small firearms act as a contagious virus that easily crosses the political and economic frontiers, causing damage particularly in poor and conflicted areas," according to Concaro.

In Argentina, the story goes on to say, firearms are the second leading cause of death, and in the capital of Buenos Aires they have surpassed all other causes.

In Brazil, 36,000 people were killed by firearms in 2006. The United States, by comparison, with a population 50 percent larger than Brazil's, registers about 30,000 annual deaths by firearms.

According to the story, one key factor in Latin America's high rates of gun violence is the ease with which firearms can be obtained on the black market.

Posted by Reed Johnson in Mexico City

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