Lies, damned lies and hey, you know the rest.

Rarely has history seen a company commit suicide in such a public way as Smith & Wesson appears to be doing.

First, a quick bit of history – S&W is the largest (or was) handgun manufacturer in the US, holding about 20% of the market.  Various lawyers came up with an idea to sue gun companies and hold them liable for gun-related deaths and injuries around the US, basically turning tort law on its head.  The idea is that if you whack your thumb with a hammer while nailing up a picture, you can hold the company who made the hammer liable for the injury to your thumb.  There’s a bit more to it than that (some are suing on the basis of “negligent” marketing practices), but that’s the long and short of it.

The lawyers, and the cities who they have managed to get to sign on to this claptrap, figure that they don’t actually have to get gun companies to be held liable, the costs of defending all the suits will force them to settle.  Unfortunately the lawyers will be in for a rude surprise as the gun companies do not have any money with which to settle (unlike the tobacco companies, the last victims of this nonsense), so most gun companies have decided it’s better to risk going bankrupt than give in to extortion.

But not S&W – they have signed an agreement with the largest entity suing, the US Housing and Urban Development Dept., and most cities suing have agreed to drop their suits as well.  Sounds great, until you read the agreement – all wholesalers and dealers who sell S&W products will have to agree to a wide variety of things, such as no longer selling large capacity magazines, requiring specific safety training for customers, limiting the number of sales to customers and so on.  The net effect is that no wholesaler or dealer is going to be crazy enough to sign up to this nonsense, because to do so will put them out of business very rapidly.

The level of revulsion among gun dealers in the US has got three states fired up enough to target wholesalers and other manufacturers on anti-trust grounds – which surely is the height of hypocrisy as it is the cities themselves who are colluding to restrain business.

In desperation to save their silly agreement, about 60 cities and counties have agreed to give S&W “preferential” treatment in contracts for police guns.  This is illegal, unless the cities can establish that S&W sells something that they need that no-one else sells, because bidding has to be open and competitive.

And S&W knows that, because in the most supreme irony of all, it was S&W who sued the US Government in the mid-80s alleging bias in the military bidding for a new service pistol.  S&W’s suit established various principles on tendering for Government contracts.

Turnabout is fair play, it appears!

My personal (highly cynical) view is that S&W is simply trying to save some money on lawyer’s bills, because their current business contracts run until the end of this year – by which time Bill Clinton will have 20 days left in office and S&W can safely tear up this agreement.

Handgun ban a failure

Recently there has been a flurry of critical press stories concerning long-barrelled revolvers in GB (which are legal due to their length).  The most idiotic of all was the story that appeared in the Times, which in the same breath as condemning the import of a few hundred Ruger Super Redhawks with 18-inch barrels pointed to a police source that estimated that 10,000 handguns had been illegally imported since the ban.  A thousand or so long-barrelled revolvers in the hands of licensed target shooters hardly seems a great worry by comparison!

A most interesting question asked in Parliament elicited some useful information that for the first time breaks down firearm-related homcides by whether the firearm was legally owned or not.  Unfortunately they only cover the period up to the end of 1998.

Although there is a slight trend downward in firearm-related offences across the board (excluding airguns), what is fascinating is that handgun-related offences dwarf offences in which a shotgun was used, despite the fact that handguns are banned whereas shotguns are legal.

Colin Greenwood, well-known for his research into armed crime, postulates that armed robbery is the real measure of armed crime.  However this is one area in which I disagree, because with homicide and serious assaults, you can be fairly sure that the firearm used is real.  With armed robberies it might just be a sawn-off cucumber in a coat pocket.  However, the injury statistics on their own show quite clearly that the use of a handgun to cause injury is far higher than with a shotgun.

The injury figures presented in the above stats (follow the link) do include blunt trauma (i.e. pistol whippings), but it’s fair to say a higher proportion of them involve real firearms than armed robberies.

Clearly, despite the prohibition of handguns, they remain the gun of choice of serious criminals.

A further interesting set of statistics is presented here, these indicate that there are currently 163,000 firearm certificates and 690,000 shotgun certificates on issue in Great Britain – a dismal total, when compared to the numbers from ten years ago.  (In 1989, there were 183,000 firearm certificates and 952,000 shotgun certificates on issue in GB).

And on the subject of statistics…

A war of words has erupted between two countries at opposite ends of the Earth, or rather between the NRA of America and the Australian Government.

At issue are some statistics presented in an NRA video about gun bans around the world not being as effective as some would like to believe (you can watch the video at NRA Live).

The Australians say the statistics in the video are false, which is rather amusing seeing as they were sourced from the Australian Government website.  What we have here is a classic case of political novices going up against perhaps the most formidable political lobby on the face of the planet.  By opening their mouths, the Australian Government have given the NRA huge amounts of free publicity and invited the NRA and Australian pro-gunners to ram the Australian Attorney General’s foot down his throat.  I’ll wager he won’t try that again.

Don’t you wish we had a gun lobby this effective?

Trigger locks?  Ha!

There is currently a legislative effort in the US to require all handguns to be sold with trigger locks.

Anyone who holds a firearm or shotgun certificate will know how restrictive our storage requirements are by comparison.  BASC among others have helped draw up new guidance for the police, and you can see it by clicking here.  “Comprehensive” is an understatement.

The notes accompanying this guidance make it clear to the police that they should be sensible and keep their more silly opinions to themselves.  About time too.

So my next project will be to build myself a gun room…

And remember, the reason why anti-gunners use such short sound bites to attack gun owners is so that anti-gunners can understand them. 

Assassins and rampaging gunmen prove folly of gun laws

Like people the world over, I watched the shootings at Columbine High School with horror – more soul searching is caused each time one of these tragic events happens.  It is not a wonder that there is usually a kneejerk reaction, a call for more gun laws.

That more gun laws would not have stopped the killings in Colorado is of course plain on its face.  To begin with, they weren’t just armed with guns – they had bombs as well, that were homemade.

In addition, they cut a swathe through the statute book, breaking so many existing laws that it is hard to count them all up.  But of course, that doesn’t stop the call for yet more laws.

Britain of course had more gun laws than almost anywhere in the US prior to the shootings in Dunblane, but that did not stop them from happening.  More laws will not stop it from happening again.  But enough about schools.

Madmen and assassins

Two days after the shootings at Columbine High School, criminals on the run in Rochdale, Manchester opened fire with an AK-47, wounding six, and garnering themselves 20 counts of attempted murder.  This is despite a ban on machineguns in this country since 1936.

On the weekend it happened again, a man walked into a pub in Manchester and opened fire, injuring three.

And then on the Monday, BBC TV presenter Jill Dando was shot dead on her doorstep with a handgun.

Those of us who were hoping that was it were disappointed when a man went on a rampage in Feltham, London a few days later, armed with an AK-47 and a pistol, spraying police cars with automatic weapons fire and eventually escaping to a housing estate where he broke into a house and took three people hostage.

And it goes on.

Of course, the Government denies that this shows that the handgun ban was an abject failure, because they point out to us that it was only intended to prevent the misuse of legally possessed handguns.  But that was not the way it was portrayed at the time, and thanks to modern technology that can be easily proven by clicking here.  Clearly there are a lot of handguns still “on the streets of Britain”.

Bear in mind that on average before the ban, there were two murders a year with legally possessed handguns, and that includes service weapons issued to the police and the armed forces.

If past performance is anything to go by, the Government will only admit that the handgun ban is a failure after another nutcase goes berserk with a legally possessed gun and shoots dead a large number of people.  Then they will tell us that the handgun ban didn’t go far enough, and they didn’t ban rifles and shotguns as well because of the strength of the “gun lobby” and because they wanted to “play fair”.

It’s a never ending spiral of lies on lies, with the Government flogging a horse that is not only dead but long since decomposed.  We have already seen Home Office minister Paul Boateng attempting to explain away incidents like those in Rochdale on lax controls in other countries, like the Japanese have.  The difference is that the Government doesn’t seem able to explain why our armed crime rate is not significantly different from many of our European neighbours with much less restrictive laws.  For most of the past ten years, our armed robbery rate has paralleled that in Switzerland (which has the least restrictive gun laws in Europe), with the main difference being that ours was rising, whereas their rate was stable.  Finally, the Met realised that armed robbery could only be tackled by enforcing the law rather than simply writing endless volumes of it.

It is worth noting that the major city with the lowest armed crime rate in Europe is Brugges, in Belgium.  Belgium of course has the least restrictive gun laws in the EU.

So what is the solution?  Well, the solution to armed crime is not going to be more laws, it’s going to have to be a pro-active approach to tackling it, and we have prepared a position paper outlining two ways to do it.

But gun owners in Great Britain must never stop protesting loudly at their scapegoating, because it was wrong, and predictably, it didn’t work.

“Let us remember that ‘if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.’  It is a very serious consideration… that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.” – Samuel Adams, 1771. 

For God’s sake, let us defend ourselves!

Recently the US Dept. of Justice came out with a study comparing crime in England & Wales with crime in the United States, and to the surprise of the uninitiated the results were pretty alarming – violent crime in most categories occurs more frequently in England & Wales than it does in the US.  The only categories where the US outdoes E&W is in homicide and rape – but the gap is closing and E&W is not that far behind when it comes to rape.

The first thing that came to my mind was anger – Britons have been subjected in the last 15 years or so to laws which can only be described as the tactics of a police state.   The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 was probably the watershed, followed by other galling laws such as the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988.  All of these laws had elements which attacked the civil liberties of the people in the hope that by restricting our freedoms crime would be prevented – wrong!

So now we are living in an Orwellian police state, surrounded by CCTV, upon which I suppose we can be recorded when a mugger decides to rob us.

The problem with laws is that criminals are entirely unimpressed by them.  I have yet to hear of a case in which waving a piece of paper in front of a criminal deterred him from committing a criminal act.  Laws only work when backed up by the police and prison resources to enforce them, and it is that aspect which has been sadly lacking, especially the prisons part.

Certainly, crime can be reduced when police resources are focused upon it – the efforts of the Metropolitan police in 1994 led to a reduction in recorded armed robberies from nearly 6,000 in 1993 to only 4,104 a year later – but police resources can only go so far and can only focus in so many places at any one time.  The crime statistics also show that at the same time as armed robbery is declining, offences of attempted murder and assault with firearms are going up.

It is all particularly sad because the police are surrounded by all the resources that one could ever need for stopping crime – it’s called the public, but woe betide the copper who suggests allowing private individuals to take an active part in crime fighting.   Why?  Because it’s effectively illegal!  Guns are illegal, stun guns are illegal, CS spray is illegal, hell, even dogs are illegal!

What are we to make of the comments which emanate from time to time from the police and their masters, the Home Office?  In 1993, I received a letter from Home Office minister Robin Ferrers in which he states: “…it is the responsibility of the police to protect the individual in society.”  Indeed, so next time I get attacked I will take the police to court for failing to protect me, I cannot wait to see the look on the face of the judge!

The Northern Ireland Office of course has a completely different approach, because of the terrorists running about with Kalashnikovs.  In Northern Ireland, there are about 9,500 firearm certificates on issue for handguns for personal protection.  In addition, the MoD issues another 2,000 or so to it’s personnel for their protection.

But can someone please tell me why someone who lives in Northern Ireland is allowed to own a gun for self-defence, but a person who lives in Great Britain is not?  After all, I am sure there are plenty of scientists who have been fire-bombed by the Animal Liberation Front who would love to be able to have a gun!  Salman Rushdie is even on record as saying he would like to have one.

But according to the Home Office no-one in Great Britain may have one. Although I am not 100% sure, it would appear that not everyone in high places agrees with the Home Office, because I hear stories repeatedly that the Home Secretary has given prohibited weapons authority to current and former members of the Met anti-terrorist squad to keep handguns for self-defence (via the Met Police Authority which he heads).   Indeed, there is even a gunshop in London which caters to ambassadors and their staff who are able to hide behind diplomatic immunity if they get caught packing a gun in public.

Our supposed “gun lobby”

What is perhaps more galling than the comments of the bureaucratic nitwits in Whitewall is the limp-wristed approach our supposed “gun lobby” takes to the issue of self-defence.  None of the national organisations is willing to go on record stating that people should be able to have guns for self-defence, even in limited circumstances.   No organisation that I am aware of represents the 9,500 certificate holders in Northern Ireland in this regard either.

Instead we have talking heads who wax on about how a firearm may be designed to kill people, but it is really only used to shoot bits of paper nowadays.  Rubbish.   Guns are designed to kill, and until our supposed shooting lobby representatives take that bit of information fully on board instead of trying to talk around it, we will never make any progress towards getting the various gun bans in this country overturned in any meaningful way.

What makes it all the more laughable is that the National Rifle Association is a registered charity because of it’s contribution to the “defence of the realm”, by teaching the military how to shoot more accurately, which by inference means how to destroy the enemy more effectively.  Yet walking around the club houses on Bisley Camp introducing the concept of using a gun to shoot in self-defence into a conversation is likely to get you some peculiar looks.

Now, do we actually need guns for self-defence?  Well, I personally don’t and you may not either, but take a drive into Hockley one of the days through Handsworth, and tell me that the jewellers who work there who are prayed upon by armed robbers don’t need them.  Or ask someone who works at a security company in London transporting cash or valuables whether he doesn’t need one.

Guns are without question the best deterrent to criminal attack, every criminological study on the subject points that out, so for God’s sake why won’t the Government allow us to use them?

The Keystone cops

That of course is the $64,000 question, and one could write a book on the subject.   The answer lies in Govt. distrust of the people, and also of the ingrained mood of the civil service, and probably also the myth that we will “turn into the United States” and other such claptrap which has built up due to the rubbish we see in the media nowadays.  I wish we would turn into the United States, where fighting crime is taken seriously and violent crime levels are falling.  One only hopes that criminological studies into European gun controls to be released this year will finally explode the myth that gun-related crime rates are lower because of our massively bureaucratic gun control laws.  (Just for the record, armed robbery increased by 900% from 1969 to 1994 in E&W and firearm-related homicide nearly tripled over the same period, while legal gun ownership fell by about a quarter).

But perhaps the best example of the Government’s entrenched mind-numbing stupidity on this issue can be seen in the way that guns are used and kept by the police.

Most experienced shooters who have practised with armed police are astonished by their lack of skill.  There are some who are good shots because they practice on their own time, but most are pretty mediocre.

There are about 7,200 Approved Firearms Officers (AFOs) in GB.  Training normally consists of two weeks on the handgun, and one week on the carbine (invariably the H&K MP5SF).  This is topped up by firing off a hundred rounds (often less) or so every quarter.

Now, how long did it take you to learn to shoot well?  Now, I suppose it is possible that someone who knows how to shoot could stay reasonably safe and competent with 400 rounds of practice in a year, but 400 rounds a year after only three weeks of training?  The only word to use is “Yikes!”

The police in Washington DC have a training regime not that dissimilar, and have recently been raked over the coals by the Washington Post because of the staggering numbers of accidental shootings that have occurred.

Because of the nature of the armed police in this country (i.e. they are called to the scene after a report of an armed criminal and usually arrive too late to be of any use), shootings by the police are pretty rare.  But when they do occur, there have been some major corkers.  One of the first that was memorable was the shooting of a mental patient who was armed with a broken air pistol.  He was stupid enough to point it at a police officer, who shot him, but the officer was behind cover and some distance away.   The threat to the officer was slim and predictably the public outcry was loud.   As a result, the police force in question spent a very large sum of money on a new training centre, and have had less gaffs since.

Up in Yorkshire if I recall correctly, a pensioner was shot dead by the police as he waved his walking stick at them from his bedroom window – the police mistook it for a rifle.

In London, armed police were called to the scene after two motorists saw a man through a window on the first floor of a pub with something in his hands – the police spread-eagled him at gunpoint on the road only to discover he had been fixing the toilet, and had a toilet handle in his hands.

In Kent, armed police surrounded the house of a pensioner who had scared some birds out of a tree in her backgarden with a cap pistol – unimpressed by the sudden appearance of MP5 toting police, she opened her front door and told them: “Go away.”

Near Brighton, an unarmed drug dealer was shot dead after being awoken by armed officers.  The officer who did the shooting stated that he thought the man was going for a gun – nothing was found near the body.

In Manchester, another hapless individual found himself acquainted with the pavement outside his home after bursting a balloon in his home as a practical joke – the noise was reported as a gunshot, and along came the keystone cops with their MP5s.

At Ascot, a member of the Met assigned to protect the Queen negligently discharged his pistol.

The list is becoming endless, and in fact one gets the impression that some people are cottoning on to the idea that if you want to cause someone hassle, just phone up the cops and say they have a gun.

We should perhaps be thankful that a 1994 report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found that a large proportion of guns owned by the police for operational use were so badly maintained as to be unusable!

In this climate, can you imagine what would happen if people actually could own guns to defend themselves?  Every time a shop keeper pulled his gun to defend himself, he would risk having a passer-by calling the police and being shot by them!

But frankly, the argument that the police are more capable of defending us than we are of defending ourselves is obviously hogwash.  Empirical evidence has now clearly borne that out.

…And finally

Personally, I think it’s time to go on the offensive and reclaim our rights.  We have nothing to lose do we?  Sharpen your pencils…

“God created the big people, and God created the little people, so Sam Colt invented the .45 to even things out.” – Trad.

“All the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence, suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.” – Bill of Rights, 1689