Saturday, December 29, 2012

The British and Australian gun control experience

Joyce Lee Malcolm at the Wall Street Journal has a fine essay on the futility of gun-control even in Britain and Australia, which are cited as examples of "effective" gun control.

Excerpt:
[In England] the Firearms Act of 1998... instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison. 
The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself. 
Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who have come into the possession of a firearm, even accidentally, have been harshly treated. In 2009 a former soldier, Paul Clarke, found a bag in his garden containing a shotgun. He brought it to the police station and was immediately handcuffed and charged with possession of the gun. At his trial the judge noted: "In law there is no dispute that Mr. Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant." Mr. Clarke was sentenced to five years in prison. A public outcry eventually won his release.

Gun control simply doesn't work. It criminalizes large numbers of law-abiding non-violent citizens, and fails to prevent gun crime. There are researchers who have found that gun control actually increases gun crime, by providing criminals with disarmed victims. Our tragic experience with "gun free zones" in schools certainly bears this out.

One would think that after Prohibition (of alcohol) failed so utterly, that we would understand that Prohibition (of guns) fails as well.

The only thing that gun control does accomplish effectively is that it makes the irrationality of liberal ideology remarkably clear. 

40 comments:

  1. No. Gun control wasn't futile in Australia. It actually succeeded in reducing homicide and suicide due to firearms.

    But that wasn't the aim. The aim was to prevent a recurrence of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, which resulted in the death of 35 people at a popular family tourist attraction by a single deranged male.

    And it succeeded. There hasn't been a repeat. Whether there would have been otherwise is unknown of course. Although, Australia does tend to follow America's lead. So our deranged individuals tend to be inspired by your deranged individuals.

    The gun buy back was financed by a levy on income. I paid more than the average, due to my income. It was money well spent.

    And I feel completely safe in Australia. There are few areas I'd be unwilling to visit. There are no large predators, besides the saltwater crocodile.

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  2. "It actually succeeded in reducing homicide and suicide due to firearms."

    Did it reduce homicide and suicide in general, or did they simply select a different murder weapon?

    I'm less familiar with the Australian situation but I do know that gun control in Britain has been pretty pathetic. The criminals are outgunning the cops. Britain has a problem with organized criminal outfits and oddly enough they seem to get their hands on firepower despite the best laid plans.

    TRISH

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    1. Ms. TRISH,

      It is hard to fathom how you can justify the use of the word "pathetic" in this context. The firearm-related homicide rate in the UK is 0.04 per 100,000 people a year. For comparison, in the US the same number is 3.7. I would say that gun controls in the UK are quite efficient, relative to the US. Not pathetic.

      Hoo

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    2. There are many factors influencing gun crime. Gun control laws are just one of many.

      Two questions: why have US gun crime rates dropped so dramatically since 1990, even as gun ownership in the US has increased substantially?

      And why has gun crime in Britain increased so much despite the tightening of gun control?

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    3. Dr. Egnor,

      You are repeating a lie that the UK gun crimes have been increasing. I have pointed out to you that it is a lie. You repeat the lie again.

      What does it make you? A liar, I think.

      Hoo

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    4. @Hoo:

      No. It makes me a reader with comprehension.

      The WSJ report describes trends beginning after the strict British gun control legislation in the 1990's-- going back more than a decade.

      The government link you provide only gives trends from 2009 to 2010/11.

      There is a long-term trend to increased gun violence, with... pauses.

      Ironically, your mistake is exactly what you accuse global warming skeptics of doing-- obsessing about short intervals and ignoring long-term trends.

      Too funny.

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    5. Dr. Egnor,

      I am afraid your reading comprehension is not what it used to be. You seem to have missed the following bullet point in my link:

      Firearm offences involving any type of injury decreased by seven per cent, from 2,568 in 2009/10 to 2,399 in 2010/11. The number of injuries recorded each year as a result of firearm offences has fallen by more than half since they peaked at 5,402 in 2004/05.

      That means, in case you analytical skills are equally rusty, that gun crimes have been falling for the last seven years. They are now down more than half of the 2004/05 peak.

      Hoo

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    6. @Hoo:

      "Injuries" are not deaths, and England classifies airgun injuries as firearm injuries. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_the_United_Kingdom)

      The 1997 Firearms Act was passed following the Dunblane massacre. It effectively banned handguns. The crimes involving firearms in England and Wales in 1998/99 were 13,874. Gun crimes rose to 24,070 in 2002 after the Act, and have fluctuated since.

      Take it up with the Wall Street Journal.

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    7. Dr. Egnor,

      You can slice it however you wish, but gun crimes have been heading down in the UK for seven years. Here is one more quote from the linked report:

      In 2010/11, firearms were involved in 11,227 recorded offences in England and Wales, the seventh consecutive annual fall and a decrease of 13 per cent compared with the previous year (when 12,976 offences were recorded).

      That is lower than the numbers from 1998/99. Which makes your assertion a naked lie. Whether you concoct it yourself or parroted someone else's untruth hardly matters because you have been told that it isn't true.

      Hoo

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    8. Hoo,

      What were the stats before they banned guns? I am basing my opinion on a book I once read called Gangs by Tony Thompson. I don't have the book at hand because I returned it to the library. The author made it pretty clear that Britain has a number of organized crime syndicates of various ethnic stripes, and that they never have a hard time procuring guns. The result is an unarmed populace, and a largely unarmed police force, facing an armed criminal class.

      That's what I don't want here.

      I have no doubt that violence is less in Britain, but that's a cultural aspect. We're pretty violent here in America, but not because of our right to bear arms. Mexico is even more violent, and they have no such right.

      TRISH

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    9. Ms. TRISH,

      The detailed stats from 1969 on are available in this crime report from the UK Parliament: link. See the chart on page 5.

      The UK is much safer than the US, even though the population is not armed.

      Hoo

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    10. Hoo,

      I saw your chart. Very interesting. It appears that gun crime has been falling since about 2003. Very good.

      Britain has had strict gun control laws for much longer. You like to compare US to UK, though I don't think that's the right comparison to be making. I think the right comparison would be to compare the UK pre-gun control to the UK post-gun control.

      My understanding is that gun control really arrived in the UK in 1988, after the Hungerford massacre of 1987. I think we should be comparing British stats from before that date to British stats after that date. According to the chart you provided, every year since 1988 has had more gun crimes than 1988. They've also had two more spree killings, which is what the 1988 law was intended to prevent--the Dunblane Massacare and the Cumbria shootings. This is what I mean when I say that gun control in Britain has been pretty pathetic. The problem of British gun violence is worse now than before 1988. To me, that's pathetic, and it also confirms what I read in Tony Thompson's books, Gangs. The picture he painted was a nation in which regular citizens have no guns, most cops have no guns, and criminals have plenty because they get them through the same criminal channels that they get everything else.

      Criminals love gun control because it creates unarmed victims.

      TRISH

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    11. Yo, TRISH:

      There was a law passed in 1988 that restricted gun ownership, but the really draconian law came in 1997. Private gun ownership in Britain has been virtually illegal since '97. But if you look at the statistics, that was when gun crimes really shot up. Only 2010/2011 has had fewer incidents. All previos years since 1997 have had more gun crimes than 1997. Gun crime went UP, not down with the introduction of strict gun control laws.

      When Hoo says that gun crimes has been declining in recent years, he's right, but so what? It's declining from a spike that occurred only after the gun control laws of '88 and '97, and, more importantly, he's comparing stats from Britain post-gun control to other stats from Britain post-gun control. If he wanted to show that gun control has been a big success, he should show how the introduction of such laws had the affect of reducing such crimes.

      But he can't do that because it didn't.

      Ben

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    12. Mr. Ben,

      The UK firearm crime rate did go up first, then it went down. It is now lower than at any point in the last two decades 1991–2011. I would not call that `pathetic' as Ms. TRISH did.

      And to put things in proper perspective, the firearm murder rate in the UK is some 25 times lower than it is in the US. I wouldn't call that `pathetic.' In fact, the word is much more aptly applicable to the situation in the US.

      Hoo

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    13. Hoo,

      You have a truly unique way of looking at the table.

      Yes, gun crime in the UK is below that of the US, but it's important to note that it was below that of the US even prior to the gun control acts of 1988 and 1997.

      Let's rewind a bit. Britain was a relatively peaceful society, by American standards, with few mass shootings or gun crime, in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. Again, my assessment is relative to American standards. Then in 1988, there was the Hungerford massacre. As a kneejerk reaction, the British government tightened gun control laws, and gun crime rose. That shouldn't happen, should it? In 1996, a violent, crazy man went on a shooting spree at a school in Dunblane, Scotland. That shouldn't happen, should it? The British government responded by making guns even more difficult to own. They are now so difficult that a civilian is essentially banned from owning a private firearm. Gun crime continued to rise, according to your stats, until 2004. That shouldn't happen, should it? Also, in 2010, another crazy guy in Cumbria went on a shooting spree. That shouldn't happen, should it?

      Guns can't get much more illegal than they already are.

      Now, according to your stats, gun crimes went up after the gun control law of 1988, and again after the gun control law of 1997. Then, in 2004, they began to decline again, but from a high water mark. They are now approximately equal to the rate Britain saw in 1997, but still higher than it saw in 1998. In other words, even after draconian gun laws, Britain still has approximately the same rate of gun crime, and they still have spree killers. They also have armed gangs. What they don't have is an armed citizenry, or even armed bobbies.

      Gun control in Britain is truly "pathetic."

      Ben

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    14. Mr. Ben,

      You are mistaken. The number of crimes committed with a firearm in the UK in 2010/11 is the lowest since 1991. It is lower than it was in 1998. See Table 2 on p. 12.

      You may call the gun control in the UK `pathetic' if you wish, but a direct comparison with the US paints a stark contrast. Look at the number of crimes committed with a firearm. In England and Wales, the numbers are around 10,000. In the US, the corresponding number is about 400,000. Even if we correct for the population difference, the US rate is 7 times higher.

      That's what I call pathetic. The US, with all the guns available for defense, is much less safe than the UK, where the population (and indeed the cops) is not armed to the teeth.

      Hoo

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    15. Hoo,

      I'm looking at the table on page 5 again. Yes, gun crime is slightly lower than in 1998, but almost exactly the same as in 1997, the year Britain decided to go full throttle with gun control. Also, 2010/2011 was higher than it was in 1988.

      I see that I made a typo above. I wrote: They are now approximately equal to the rate Britain saw in 1997, but still higher than it saw in 1998. That should have been 1988, not 1998. I'm using those two years as baselines because they mark the passage of major gun control legislation.

      Gun crime in 2010/2011 is approximately equal to that which occurred in 1997, after steadily climbing for six years to unseen heights. It's now in the decline again, which is good news for sure, but can we really give the credit to gun control? Keep in mind that on the decline does not mean that gun crime is low, by British standards. Gun crime in 2010/2011 Britain is still much higher than gun crime in the 60's, 70's, or 80's, before the two major gun control statutes.

      Gun crime before gun control was lower than gun crime after gun control. That's what the chart says, the one you provided. It may be in decline now, but it's been sixteen and twenty-five years respectively since the major statutes were passed. In the meantime, gun crime spiked, so the bad numbers of today look good in comparison.

      Britain is on the downward slope of a gun crime wave that followed two major gun control initiatives, and the conclusion you draw is that it must have worked because we're on the downward slope.

      Ben

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  3. Tell me again, why does anyone need an AR-15 with 100 round magazines? Even if we went the path of eliminating gun free zones and increasing the number of people with concealed carry permits, you must admit the chances of successfully engaging a homicidal lunatic would be much greater if there where parity in firepower.

    I propose a compromise, eliminate gun-free zones and make concealed carry permits easier to get, and simultaneously stop the sale of, and institute a buy-back program for, assault rifles and large cap magazines. Seems to me that would be the best of both worlds. Any takers?

    -KW

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    1. THe wonderful thing about the Constitution, KW, is that it protects freedoms without the requirement that the citizen demonstrate "need".

      Why exactly do we "need" freedom of religion or freedom of speech? Why do some people "need" an AR 15 or high capacity magazines.

      The Constitution says: 'it's none of governments f**king business.'

      Why do we need Democrats, KW?

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    2. Dr. Egnor,

      By your logic, the second amendment to the Constitution also permits a citizen to buy a tank or a ballistic missile. You never know, it could come handy one day, what with President Obama in the office.

      Hoo

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    3. @Hoo:

      Nope. "Keep and Bear Arms" has always been interpreted as personal firearms.

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    4. @KW:

      [I propose a compromise, eliminate gun-free zones and make concealed carry permits easier to get, and simultaneously stop the sale of, and institute a buy-back program for, assault rifles and large cap magazines. Seems to me that would be the best of both worlds. Any takers?]

      What's an 'assault rifle'?

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    5. “What’s an assault rifle”

      Don’t be an idiot; you know exactly what I’m talking about. Those rifles, designed for the military and adapted for civilian use, generally gas operated, with smaller diameter or shorter rounds than where military standard thru WW2, with a 30+ round magazines, and capable of high sustained rates of fire. Mini-14, AR-15, AK-47, style guns.

      -KW

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    6. Besides, anybody that knows anything at all about shooting and combat will tell you that these assault rifles, even the military issue ones capable of full auto, are much more effective (deadly) in virtually every situation used as semi-autos. Arguing that the civilian versions somehow aren’t as dangerous because you can’t flip them to full auto is ludicrous. If they where only full auto, I would bet mass murderers would actually kill fewer people due to the added inaccuracy of full auto fire.

      Get a clue.

      -KW

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    7. @KW:

      There are probably 100 million semi-automatic rifles in the US. They differ according to appearance (really scary, less scary), caliber, color, etc. They all have a rate of fire equal to how fast you can squeeze the trigger. (that's what 'semi-automatic' means).

      "Rate of fire" isn't a terribly important characteristic of a semi-automatic weapon. It is generally used for automatic weapons, which we are not discussing.

      The capacity of magazines is a characteristic of the magazine, not the rifle.

      Any semi-automatic weapon is deadly. Pistols are probably deadlier than rifles in a mass shooting situation in a gun-free zone, in the sense that pistols are more maneuverable and easier to conceal in order to get into the gun-free zone. The highest death toll shooting in the US-- 32 killed at Va. Tech-- was done with 2 pistols.

      It is true that full automatic is often less effective than semi-automatic.

      By your reasoning, we should legalize fully automatic rifles, in hopes that mass killers will use them instead of semi-automatic.

      In gun control, every little bit helps.

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    8. @KW:

      With the term "assault weapon", the key word is "Ass..". which describes the people who demand assault weapon bans. The definition of assault weapon is "any rifle that looks scary to a liberal".

      Any semiautomatic weapon, pistol, rifle, shotgun, whatever can be used to kill large numbers of people, or defend large numbers of people.

      About the only "tactical" difference in a mass shooting situation in a gun-free zone would be the size of the magazine, although it is unlikely that schoolchildren are going to prevail against a killer with 10 round magazines any more often than they will prevail against a killer with 30 round magazines.

      And to raise your earlier point again: if semi-automatic weapons are more effective tactically than automatic weapons, why not legalize automatic weapons, and hope they are used in preference to semi-automatic ones?

      Gun control strategists never rest.

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    9. @KW:

      Let's get tough on high-capacity magazines. Should David Gregory be prosecuted?

      Delete
    10. Dr. Egnor,

      "Assault rifle" is not a liberal invention. The term is a literal translation of the German word Sturmgewehr. StG 44 is widely considered to be the first assault rifle.

      Hoo

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    11. @Hoo:

      "Assault rifle" is a military term, referring to an automatic military rifle with certain tactical characteristics. They tend of be of lighter caliber with very high rates of automatic fire (600 rpm) intended to engage enemy soldiers at a couple of hundred yards or less.

      It has nothing to do with civilian semi-automatic rifles, some of which are shaped like actual assault rifles, but lack automatic fire, etc.

      In gun free zones, any semi-automatic weapon (rifle or pistol) is capable of inflicting massive casualties, not because the weapon is an "assault rifle" but because the victims are disarmed by law, helpless, and must wait 15-20 minutes for police (good guys with guns) to arrive.

      Semi-automatic pistols are very effective for mass killings of unarmed people (Va Tech), probably more effective, for tactical reasons.

      What is deadly about mass shootings in gun free zones is that the victims are disarmed, not the accoutrements of the weapon.

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    12. Leftists love that line: "Why does anybody need (fill in the blank?)"

      I don't know, why does anybody need anal beads? Maybe we should have a limit on the number of porn flicks a person can own. Nobody needs more than ten, so let's place an artificial limit there.

      Leftists decide what everyone "needs" then has the government confiscate the rest. That's not how freedom works, KW.

      TRISH

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    13. Trish, you need some anal beads.

      -KW

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    14. Witty comeback, KW. By witty, I mean nonsensical.

      She has a point. I don't want to live in a country in which the government decides what I "need" then takes the rest. Your problem is that you hate guns. If it were something that you liked, you'd be up in arms at the suggestion that the government could take everything in excess of what you "need."

      Again, it's one set of rules for you and another for everybody else.

      Joey

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    15. Don't say "up in arms", Joey. He hates that word.

      Although I think he might come out shooting if anyone tried to deprive him of his constitutional right to assbeads.

      TRISH

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  4. Those of the Catholic persuasion will find this article of interest: Gun control: Church firmly, quietly opposes firearms for civilians (Catholic News Service).

    Hoo

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    1. @Hoo:

      The Church has two kinds of teaching-- binding moral teaching (sanctity of life, etc) and prudential teaching.

      Prudential issues are issues in which good Catholics can differ. Gun control is one of them. Abortion is not one of them.

      I respectfully differ with the good Bishops on the prudential issue of private gun ownership. I do support reasonable aspects of gun control-- registration of handguns, banning automatic weapons, etc-- but I respect the Second Amendment, and also I affirm a personal human right to self-defense.

      Keep reading those Catholic sites, though. A lot of wisdom is there to be found.

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    2. Hoo thinks Catholic doctrine takes precedence over the US Constitution. Hoo is a scary theocrat. Hoo hates America.

      TRISH

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  5. "Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who have come into the possession of a firearm, even accidentally, have been harshly treated. In 2009 a former soldier, Paul Clarke, found a bag in his garden containing a shotgun. He brought it to the police station and was immediately handcuffed and charged with possession of the gun. At his trial the judge noted: "In law there is no dispute that Mr. Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant.""

    I knew about this case ... which added, in an earlier thread, to the irony (*) of the leftist-and-atheistic fool going on about how strict gun-control laws are all about enforcing the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of it (**), and therefore David Gregory shouldn't be prosecuted for violating D.C.'s strict gun laws.

    (*) The irony started with him -- an atheist -- trying to use Christ's own words to justify his hypocrisy.

    (**) Of course, the "spirit" of the laws "liberals" like is: this law wasn't intended to apply to "liberals".

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    1. llion,

      According to the Daily Mail report on the Paul Clarke case, he waited 4 days before handing the shotgun (which was actually a sawn-off one) to the Surrey Police. And he had a history of run-ins with members of the police force, which is possibly the reason he was charged - for reasons of personal animus.

      The judge noted that he could have been sentenced to 5 years gaol - but imposed a one year suspended sentence and a one night curfew, the night following the sentencing.

      He shouldn't have been prosecuted, but he wasn't sentenced to 5 years gaol. That appears to be factually incorrect - going on what the Daily Mail reported.

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  6. Hoo, Your not related to Piers Morgan are you? he likes to make stupid comparrions in regard to the U.S and U.K. He also likes to think the government provide this safe little bubble with overly harsh laws that affect millions of law abiding citizens......and have little to no affect on hardline criminal gangs. And I am sorry to say this, really I am, that gun crime involving banned fire arms HAS been rising since the totl ban was inforced, It also is poignant that if some-one wants to commit a lethal act......there are countless items that will never be banned that will do far more serious damage, murder and acts of pure terror than guns. Take the idiots who use cars as weapons and methods of crime, at least gun law can be managed, background checks, periodic checks, licences, clubs etc etc.......The dvla dont do them, tesco's knife sales do not do them, are these silly enough comparisons for you? probably? its a shame its true though hey?

    who!

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