…where the formerly Great Britain used to be.
After the school shooting in Finland, the BBC came out with a multi-part piece on guns, gun violence, and gun control in England and Europe. Interestingly enough, they started with a timeline of British gun control laws that began with this rather startling admission:
The contrast between UK legislation on gun ownership – among the strictest in the world, and that in the United States – among the most relaxed, might appear stark.
But in fact both countries’ firearms laws can be traced back to the same source.
The right to bear arms was guaranteed in the 1689 Bill of Rights, in which the new King William of Orange enshrined a series of rights for his subjects – Catholics were famously excluded.
This was enshrined in common law during the early years of the US, and later informed the second amendment of the US constitution, which explains why the right to bear arms remains so strong a factor in America.
Why didn’t it remain strong in the UK?
Meanwhile back in Britain – where hostile natives and rogue bears – were less of an issue, few people took up the right to carry arms.
If you don’t exercise a right, it atrophies.
Compare the BBC’s timeline with one I did in 2001 that got picked up by Enter Stage Right, entitled A Sterling Example. Mine, I think, gives the reader a bit more perspective.
The BBC series continues with an exploration of Who supplies the guns on our streets? In this piece the writer utters that-which-shall-not-be-admitted-aloud:
Britain has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, and has done a great deal to choke off the supply – but as long as there is a demand for guns there will always be someone willing to find a way to provide them, at a price.
Economics 101 from Father Guido Sarducci’s Five-Minute University: “Supply and-a Demand – that’s it!”
But hope springs eternal!
MEPs are currently discussing amendments to a European directive which police hope could make a big difference in the fight against gun crime.
The new, updated rules, which replies Directive 477 will introduce a number of extra controls on the sale of guns.
Gisela Kallenbach, the German Green MEP responsible for pushing through the directive, said: “You can never 100% stop people illegally obtaining guns no matter what legislation you have, but with the legislation you can at least make it as difficult as possible.”
But it won’t make it effectively difficult. All you can do is affect the price.
The directive will mean individuals wanting to buy blank-firing and imitation guns will have to prove their identity to the retailer or manufacturer, who will be under a duty to register that sale in the same way as the sale of a new or used car.
Buyers would have to provide a passport or identification card.
“If you can manage it with cars then why not with guns?” said Ms Kallenbach.
Because guns are small, easily concealable, easily stolen, increasingly valuable the harder you squeeze the market, and the distribution channels are already established?
Later in the piece:
Revenue & Customs are at the forefront of efforts to stop guns getting into the country.
A spokesman said there was no doubt guns were smuggled in on ferries, but they had achieved several notable intelligence-led successes.
In July two men were jailed for a total of 24 years for trying to smuggle in two Czech assault rifles, which had been broken down into components.
The guns, along with 460 rounds of ammunition, were found during the search of a car at Dover docks.
The Customs spokesman said: “We can’t stop every single passenger and we work on where the risks are. The figures suggest the number of guns being smuggled is at a fairly low level compared with drugs.”
But drugs are consumables. Guns are durable goods. And you know you can’t stop drugs from coming in.
A third piece discusses How guns get into the hands of crooks. Another rather startling admission is printed therein:
In the spring of 2005 Manchester gangster Desmond “Dessy” Noonan was interviewed for a television documentary and bragged about having “more guns than the police”.
A few days later he was shot dead on a street in south Manchester.
Noonan’s brother Dominic was arrested in May of that year in possession of a blank-firing gun that had been imported from Germany and then converted into a deadly weapon. He was later jailed.
But the gun was one of a batch of hundreds imported from Germany by a gang who had employed an engineer to convert them.
The sales manager at Cuno Melcher’s factory near Cologne still sounds mystified by the logic of the gang who tricked her into selling them hundreds of guns, which they would later convert into lethal weapons.
“It would have been easier to buy real weapons, from Eastern Europe, which you can get for 50 euros. Why did they buy gas weapons and convert them?” asked Julia Nicolai.
Supply and-a Demand.
I read the rest of the piece. Personally, I think they’re vastly overestimating the value of those converted guns. Why do I say that? Well in the piece entitled Who carries guns and why? the BBC reports:
In the 1980s and 1990s the number of armed robberies fell away as more and more criminals moved into the drugs trade.
Despite the 1997 ban on handguns – introduced after the Dunblane massacre – the crooks increasingly favoured pistols and revolvers, which were easier to hide and more “fashionable”.
What does seem to have changed in the past decade is the average age of both offenders and victims, which has come down considerably.
The average age of the victims in those 10 murders in the spring of 1997 was 29 and the youngest was aged 19.
Ten years on, if you look at the gun deaths that took place in June and July 2007 the average age of the five victims had fallen to 25 and that falls to 20 if 47-year-old boxer James Oyebola is excluded.
Detective Chief Superintendent Helen Ball, who heads up Operation Trident, recently told BBC Radio Five Live: “We have noticed for a couple of years now that the ages of people involved in gun crime is reducing and it’s something that we have been deeply concerned about and until we are able to tackle that trend I am not sure that we will be able to be confident in solving this problem.”
She said the proportion of victims who were teenagers had risen from 19% to 31% in the last four years.
So some very young offenders are scraping up that kind of cash for guns? Possible, but I think the reality is that guns are in actuality much cheaper than the BBC is reporting – which goes right back to Supply and-a Demand. The better the supply, the lower the price. As recently as August The Telegraph was reporting that handguns were going for as little as £50. Who’s right? Which hypothesis more closely matches the evidence?
Another fascinating tidbit. At the bottom of that piece was this bit of rather old but interesting data:
Note the date – 2000-2002. That makes the ratio between the UK and the US right at 2.25 to one. A far cry from where it was in the 1950’s, no?
By most rational measures, the UK doesn’t really have much of a firearm problem. They do, however, have a violent crime problem. And they have a firearm paranoia problem, as evidenced by this story illustrating the inability to differentiate between “violent and predatory” and “violent but protective”:
A MAYOR sparked a row by asking soldiers to lay down their guns before marching in this Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade.
Chepstow town councillor Hilary Beach says the 1 Rifles Army regiment, based at nearby Beachley Barracks, should not carry their weapons during the ceremony because of the rising tide of gun crime across the country.
Veterans’ groups criticised her comments as “ridiculous”.
As well they should. But she’s the Mayor, and thought it was a good idea.
And here’s the inevitable result of that mindset when carried into the halls of power:
Two Cheshire teenagers who terrorised a vulnerable man before beating him to death and throwing his body in a river, have had their life sentences cut.
Craig Dodd, aged 17, will now serve a minimum of three-and-a-half years in prison and Ryan Palin, 15, three years.
The pair were dubbed as “feral” when they were jailed for life for the manslaughter of Raymond Atherton, 40, in Warrington.
They beat and urinated on Mr Atherton before dumping him in the River Mersey.
Despite the severity of their crime, Lord Justice Rix overturned the life terms and replaced them with sentences of detention for public protection, giving each a minimum tariff to serve before parole can be considered.
Lord Justice Rix decided the sentencing judge at Warrington Crown Court had not been right to impose life sentences for the killing.
He said: “We think it was an error of principle to say that a discretionary sentence of detention for life should be imposed.”
But here’s the kicker:
The court heard Palin, of Grasmere Avenue, Orford, and Dodd, of Lisguard Close, Runcorn spent months systematically abusing the victim, who had severe learning difficulties, in a process they nicknamed ‘terroring’.
They regularly broke into his council flat on St Katherine’s Way, Howley, where they wrote graffiti on the walls, burnt his hair and daubed his face with paint.
On the night of his death in May 2006, the boys were seen by neighbours beating him with planks of wood until he bled.
(My emphasis.) I guess his neighbors should have honked their horns and jumped up and down.
This is what disarmament has done to the formerly Great Britain. This is the result of a society unable to differentiate between “violent and predatory” and “violent but protective.” This is what happens when the State denies its citizens the right to defend themselves, and abrogates its duty to protect them. This is what happens when a society journeys down the path of compelled helplessness.
And what was the mantra of the (not nearly a) Million Mom March?
England can do it. Australia can do it. So Can WE!
Not on my watch. Not ever.