Gun Control, Yemen-Style

Tik Root | The Atlantic

SANA'A, YEMEN -- With shops lining the main road and hard bargaining merchants abounding, Jihana appears to be your average Yemeni market. But instead of shopping for food or clothes, customers peruse a vast assortment of glocks, pistols, AK47s, M16s, anti-aircraft artillery, bazookas, and nearly any other weapon short of an actual tank. 

"In Yemen, no matter if you're rich or poor, you must have guns. Even if it's just one piece," insists Abdul Wahab al-Ammari, a tribal sheikh from Yemen's Ibb province who resides in Sana'a, citing self-protection as the primary driver of gun ownership. "I have maybe 14 high powered weapons, and 3 handguns [at home]."

Americans, spurred by the tragic shootings in Newton, Aurora, and elsewhere, clearly aren't alone in their need to discuss gun control. Yemen, the second most heavily-armed country in the world per capita after the U.S., has a completely unique set of challenges as it wrestles with the question of what, if anything, can be done to address the demand of average citizens to bear arms.