Saturday, December 29, 2012

As the debate goes on

Back from the Christmas break and turning my attention to guns and violence, which is entirely appropriate. Christmas, as we know from police reports and more pertinently from detective stories is the time for crime and violence. Were I to indulge in more than just verbal violence I would vent my anger (as I do my verbal spleen so often) on ASLEF and TfL who managed to make Boxing Day in London a hideous nightmare.  But enough of my problems.

On Boxing Day the Wall Street Journal had an article (which is not behind any pay wall) by Joyce Lee Malcolm about the British and and Australian experience with strict gun control and its general uselessness. As it happens I recall the dishonest campaign that followed Dunblane and the failed attempts by well-organized shooting clubs as well as knowledgeable members of the House of Lords to stem the hysteria.

I have temporarily forgotten about the Cumbrian massacre of 2010 but, living in West London, I am all too well aware about armed gangs and the high level of armed crime, which gets little coverage in the national media as it is not as spectacular in news terms as a massacre particularly of children.

The Australian experience was unknown to me but seems to agree with ours in this country. As Professor Malcolm says:
What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven't made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don't provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.
If our society is more violent in the twenty-first century than it was in the late nineteenth when guns were readily available and most home owners kept some kind of a "shooter" then the reasons must be something else, not the presence of guns.


  1. Worth noting though that gun technology has come on leaps and bounds since the 19th century, particularly automatic machine guns, so that massacres are much much easier to facilitate in a short space of time.

    Not disagreeing with the thrust of your piece, just pointing out that the likes of an AK-47 was not available to those in the 19th century.

  2. Very little crime is committed by long guns in any case. The highest murder rates this
    side of the pond are where the gun laws are strictest such as DC and Chicago.

  3. Check out the gun crime in Switzerland given that all adults (I believe) have to do national service and have to keep the issued guns safe in their homes. Probably Switzerland has the highest proportion of automatic weapons per household but very low gun crime. Perhaps the answer lies in car style licensing have anyone stable go to proper training and be proficient in using their concealed carry for the protection of themselves and those less proficient?

  4. Gun laws in the UK may not prevent massacres but it is worth pointing out that Britain is not the country where almost 500 people are killed by being shot every single week.

    That country is America. And that statistic is a massacre - every single week.

    1. According to wiki there are around 6000 gunshot related deaths in the USA during 2010, over 50% of which were suicides.

      The issue is emotive enough without being selective with numbers/cause.

      Over 32,000 were killed on USA roads that same year. Perhaps they are looking at the wrong thing to 'ban'??

    2. John M - please don't repeat that alarmist drivel elsewhere. If Obama is right to be against guns on the basis that society and people would be safer without them, then why does his daughters' expensive private school emply 11 of them and why is his Washington pad dripping with armed personnel?