Tyler Cowen notes that roughly 42% of all the guns in the world are owned by Americans. And America accounts for about 42% of global military spending. He then says something extremely interesting and provocative:
I see those two numbers, and their rough similarity, as the most neglected fact in current debates about gun control.
I see many people who want to lower or perhaps raise those numbers, but I don’t see enough people analyzing the two as an integrated whole.
I don’t myself so often ask “should Americans have fewer guns?”, as that begs the question of how one might ever get there, which indeed has proven daunting by all accounts. But I do often ask myself “should America be a less martial country in in its ideological orientation?”
That is, owning guns and policing the world (and occasionally invading it) are symptoms of something deeper. His diagnosis is a militaristic culture. I’m not sure that’s true, but I would be interested to read more.
If true, it begs the question of how martial cultures develop or change. Germany and Japan changed immensely, having followed the classic path of “decisive military defeat of your genocidal and megalomaniacal leaders.” Perhaps there is another way for the rest of us.
Update: Dan Drezner has a great reply. Read it.