After watching and reading about the chaos in Egypt, I wondered about their gun control regime. I mean, why would protestors considering an uprising against the government seize police armories and hurl molotov cocktails into armored vehicles if they had more effective weapons available, right? Unorganized militias which are being called up by religious authorities to protect innocent life and property would not be armed with sticks and knives if more effective arms were available.
This site had some interesting figures on Egyptian gun ownership and laws. I think they really say what needs to be said. Civilian long guns are prohibited (remember, a long gun is what rebels use to unseat the government; while handguns are good for personal protection and are easily concealable, wars aren't won with handguns). All firearms are registered with the central government. All owners are licensed by the central government. There are 1.9 million civilian firearms and over 3.1 million firearms in the hands of the security forces.
Given the licensure/registration scheme, I have a feeling that the majority of those 1.9 million civilian firearms are in the hands of state officials, ruling party members, and the ethnic majority. Of course, I'm sure that there are numerous unregistered firearms given the level of arms trafficking in the region, and it wouldn't be surprising for unsavory groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to have a stranglehold on the flow of illegal contraband items like weapons. Given that MB appears to be sending their followers out into the streets, that doesn't bode well for what would happen after the security forces fall (if they do); if MB and the criminal underground have more weapons available than pro-Democracy middle class protesters then I know who I'd put my money on in the post-shakeup power struggles.
This also means that the key variable is the willingness of the security forces to open fire and kill large numbers of protesters (or at least sufficient numbers of them to put down the uprising, instill fear in the populace, and restore order). Megan McArdle had a good article on the point.
Appears that the criminals do have guns.
"Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates. Gangs of young men with guns and large sticks smashed cars and robbed people in Cairo."
a little confused
3 hours ago