2004-05-25 12:15:04 UTC
Will we now have even more draconian measures in a perverse attempt to
wind back the gun crime rate?
PUBLICATION: Edmonton Journal
COLUMN: Lorne Gunter
BYLINE: Lorne Gunter
SOURCE: The Edmonton Journal
Britain proves gun control is wrong: Gun crime nearly doubled after
Brits surrendered their handguns
On March 13, 1996, Thomas Hamilton walked into an elementary school in
Scotland, with three pistols and shot dead 16 young children and one
teachers. In the wake of this horrific massacre of innocents, a
recommended more stringent rules for handgun ownership in Britain, but
against an outright ban.
Politicians being politicians, though, they sought to prove they were
prevent a recurrence of such a shooting (as if anyone can prevent
acting insanely) by passing a law forbidding ordinary civilians from
handguns. Handgun owners were given until February 1998 to hand in all
In all, about 162,000 handguns and 700 tonnes of ammunition were
police. Jack Straw, currently Britain's foreign secretary, but at the
home secretary, pronounced the hand-in a "tremendous success" and
would make England, Scotland and Wales very much safer.
Tuesday, the gun-crime statistics for the first five years of this
citizen disarmament were released. And what has been the result? The
of gun crime in England and Wales has nearly doubled from 13,874 in
24,070 in 2003. And the incidence of firearms murder, while thankfully
very small, has risen 65 per cent.
Politicians being politicians, they of course have not drawn the
parallel. When the statistics were released earlier this week, no
mentioned the total handgun ban. (Not even Britain's Olympic sport
permitted to own handguns for competition.)
It never even occurred to British politicians and reporters to make a
connection. Banning handguns was an important symbol in the wake of
shootings. It was the right thing to do at the time. Its intended
realized or not, well, they're secondary.
The ban was a "then" solution, the spiral in gun crime is a "now"
different matters entirely to the chattering classes.
It's not necessarily the case that the stripping of guns from
law-abiding gun owners caused the explosion in gun crime by leaving
population defenceless against armed criminals.
There is almost surely some cause and effect, though.
Another report released last year by Britain's Home Office revealed
the late 1990s, robbery has jumped dramatically, too. It rose by 28
per cent in
2002 alone and, since 1998, there has been an increase in the annual
muggings of more than 100,000. England alone has nearly 400,000
year, a rate nearly one-quarter higher per capita than that of the
It is entirely likely that some of the increase in the past five years
stemmed from an increased confidence among criminals that ordinary
almost certainly have no guns in their homes.
But it is unlikely the handgun ban accounts for all or even most of
increase. France has had a similar upward spike in robberies over the
years without banning guns. France, too, now has a violent crime rate
above the Americans', with the exception of murder.
For some reason, no one in the industrialized world murders one
Americans. However, in most other categories of violent and property
rest of us are catching up.
The likely causes of Britain's crime wave (and France's and Germany's
Netherlands' and so on) are illegal immigration, drug wars and
treatment of convicted criminals. Holland is set to deport 30,000
claimants over the coming months in part in hopes of reducing high
However, even if confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens does not
heights of violent crime, it does not follow that seizure is a neutral
The best that can be said of it is that it is totally useless. As
such, it is
Yet seizure also amounts to a forfeiture of private property by
persons who have
committed no crime (and thus have given the state no legitimate reason
their property). So its pointlessness is a deep violation of
If the seizure of private guns does not prevent crime -- and from the
example it is clear it does not -- then there is no common good that
possibly justify seizure.
And if Britain's mandatory hand-in encouraged even a few hundred
robberies and a
handful of murders by emboldening criminals, then the hand-in was a
crime by the
state against law-abiding citizens.
Similarly, the registry forced on Canadian gun owners nearly a decade
been totally useless. If taking guns away is not enough to prevent gun
how could collecting registrations on guns to fill government
databases do any
The problem is criminals with guns, period. Targeting law-abiding
whether through registration or confiscation, is looking in the wrong
a solution to gun crime.
There have been rumours out of Ottawa for months now that the Liberals
make Canada's registry less intrusive and expensive, friendlier to
Even if it is made less harsh and simpler to use, so long as it
focus on lawful owners instead of criminals, it will merely be a
sort of useless.
End of Cdn-Firearms Digest V7 #147
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