are In on British Gun Laws
by Dr. Michael S. Brown
advocates of gun control point to Great Britain as an example of a gun free
paradise where violence and crime are rare.
there may be trouble in paradise. Our
friends across the Atlantic did tighten their already strict gun laws, with the
Firearms Act of 1997, making self defense with a firearm completely impossible
for ordinary people. Obedient
British subjects generally maintained a stiff upper lip as they surrendered
their guns and their rights. How
much did crime drop as a result of this sacrifice?
It did not drop at all. In
fact, according to the local newspapers, England is being swept by a wave of
crime, including plenty of gun crimes.
London Times published a story on January 16th that sums up the situation rather
well. The headline reads,
"Killings Rise As 3 Million Illegal Guns Flood Britain".
Armed crime rose 10% in 1998 and the numbers for 1999 may be even more
dramatic. The British experiment
with gun prohibition has resulted in the same outcome as other forms of
prohibition. Since guns are banned,
every criminal wants one and it is very profitable to smuggle them in.
According to a police spokesman, weapons from Eastern Europe, some still
new in their boxes, are turning up during investigations.
Criminals now have unprecedented access to high quality guns at
Manchester Guardian, on January 14th, laments the fact that their city is being
called "Gunchester". Police
sources were quoted as saying that guns had become "almost a fashion
accessory" among young criminals on the street. Some gangs are armed with fully automatic weapons
and the generally unarmed British police say that they risk confronting
teenagers on mountain bikes brandishing machine guns.
Sunday Express sent a team of reporters out to investigate the problem and their
story of June 20, 1999 said, "In recent months there have been a
frightening number of shootings in Britain's major cities, despite new laws
banning gun ownership after the Dunblane tragedy. Our investigation established that guns are available through
means open to any criminally minded individual."
government is expected to respond by further tightening the laws on weapons of
all sorts. Additional regulations
controlling knives and air guns are said to be in the works, although this might
be likened to beating a dead horse. The
very act of armed self defense is already punishable by law.
That right has been handed over to the government in return for a promise
motor vehicles need to be more heavily regulated as well.
According to a commercial security report titled "New Wave in Retail
Crime", British bandits are using vehicles to smash storefronts in a type
of crime called "ramraiding", which would be impractical if
shopkeepers had the option of arming themselves.
The report states that, "Many retailers have actually gone out of
business because of the repeated attacks on their premises."
recent rise in crime is part of an upward trend that correlates well with the
gradual tightening of gun control over the last several decades.
The relationship between increasing gun control and rising crime is well
documented in a scholarly 1999 report by Olsen and Kopel, "All the Way Down
the Slippery Slope - Gun Prohibition in England".
traditional view of England as a low crime society has also been seriously
damaged by the 1998 study titled, "Crime and Justice in the United States
and in England and Wales", which is available from the U.S. Bureau of
Justice Statistics. This report
concludes that English crime rates in the period from 1981 to 1996 were actually
higher than in the United States due to differences in the way crimes are
negative result from gun control laws should not surprise us.
American cities have had similar counterproductive results whenever gun
control has been implemented locally and recent reports from Australia show
similar effects from their gun confiscation.
It is no
coincidence that crime typically goes up after a government passes new gun
restrictions. Several American
researchers and criminologists have explored this effect.
There is no mystery here. Disarming
law abiding citizens emboldens criminals.
people have given up their right to self defense in return for a promise of
government protection, the results have been negative.
No amount of social engineering will change this basic consequence of
human nature. Unfortunately, the
downward progression of gun control goes only one way.
British subjects will never regain the basic human right to armed self
Proponents of gun control in America have a lot
of explaining to do. Unfortunately,
with the aid of their media allies, this new information will probably be
ignored completely or brushed off with a few carefully chosen emotional sound
Dr. Michael S. Brown is an optometrist in Vancouver, WA who moderates a
large email list for discussion of gun issues in Washington State. You can reach
the rest of his archive here.
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org