You could (and likely are) correct that the US military intervening would have cost (in cash and political capital) more than the number ($8500) cited by Frank Wisner, the undersecretary of defense for policy. I have no idea what all is covered by his sum, but it does not seem a stretch to me that it was not all-inclusive.
Interesting citations regarding firearm ownership. Thanks for sharing. I would not have thought of that one myself. You also made a good point about the difference between military-grade armament and small arms possession.
I think there are a few complicating dynamics:
Types of Injury
Long-run spill-over effects
There were certainly guns present and used during the Rwandan Genocide, especially by the military/militia groups. That said, the distribution and use of machetes was pervasive and brutal. Dr. Orbinski observes that the Interahamwe utilized machetes for violent acts that would have been near impossible for a gun to inflict. What would a greater prevalence of guns have done to the types of injuries inflicted?
Unfortunately, the Rwandan Genocide was not the first violent tension between the Tutsi and Hutu populations. So it seems unclear to me what effect arming the Tutsi minority would have had. This is also one difference from the African American population. In Rwanda, the Tutsi’s were traditionally the empowered population.
Access (guns or otherwise) requires infrastructure. Infrastructure takes time and coordination. Once the violence started, the bulk of it only lasted 100 days. So any promotion of ownership would have had to have happed in advance. What tensions would that have caused?
Beyond the historical tensions, there would likely be effects of increased gun ownership. How would more prevalent gun ownership affect suicide rates, domestic violence, accidental injury, school violence, etc.?
At the risk of being unproductively vague: Who would develop the markets for gun ownership? The US? The private market? Who regulates it? How does regulation affect corruption? Where is the line between self-defense and violence as preventative action?
I appreciate you keeping the conversation going. You have raised multiple points I would have missed.