One does not have to read far in the news media from the last few weeks to see that firearm-related offences are a hot topic at the moment.
For example, you can go to the BBC news website, read that article and hyperlink to several dozen others. People getting mindlessly shot on their way home, people being mindlessly shot in bungled armed robberies, drug dealers seeking revenge on rivals, and so on.
And we can look at the increasing number of offences and see that serious armed crime rose 3% in the last recorded year, i.e. from April 2002 to April 2003.
Now what you might be expecting is for me to point out how serious armed crime is going up, despite all the silly gun laws that have been passed in recent years. However, there is frankly little point in my doing that, because to begin with, the editorial pages and opinion pages of virtually every national newspaper already reflect this point.
But you see, newspapers have to make out that the sky is falling, because it makes it sound interesting, and the more interesting it is, the more newspapers they sell, and not only that, but it makes the Government squirm and that means even more column inches in the political columns of the same newspapers. A good example of this squirming is the curious juxtaposition of Home Office officials pronouncing that armed crime is extremely rare and you shouldn’t be too concerned about it (as one minister points out in the above BBC article), which had been preceded by the Home Secretary announcing that armed crime is such a serious problem that new laws are needed as soon as possible.
However the reality that doesn’t sell newspapers is that serious armed crime is actually falling, and has been falling since November 2002, which is why the Government released the statistics early, although you wouldn’t know that from reading the BBC website. Tucked away on an obscure part of the Metropolitan Police website is this press release, which indicates that the Flying Squad are being extremely effective at reducing armed robberies in London, and remember that armed robberies are the most common serious firearm-related offence.
Now, speaking as a gun lobbyist myself, the lesson I take away from this is that the mainstream media is pretty useless if you actually need factual information, but that aside, the real lesson here is that armed crime rises and falls due to the degree of enforcement of the law, not the amount of laws that Parliament endlessly pisses out that do nothing but aggravate the ordinary person who is as likely to commit a firearm-related offence as they are to sit in a see-through box held up by a crane for 44 days. Obviously the police need some laws to enforce, but strangely enough, it’s been illegal to commit armed robbery for a pretty long time.
Of course, anyone who has studied the subject objectively for more than five minutes has already learned this lesson, but politicians need a scapegoat, and gun owners are the obvious choice when it comes to armed crime, by and large. The current scapegoats being lined up are owners of air cartridge guns, but don’t be surprised if owners of imitations, deactivated firearms and air pistols of other types are next.
So to avoid being a scapegoat, we come to the final lesson for the day, and that is to make your MP as fully aware of your unwillingness as you can, because MPs are responsible for this endless nonsense of laws we are subjected to, and if you don’t like talking to your MP, remember there is at least one thing that an MP is even less likely to abolish than the handgun ban, bans on air cartridge guns, etc., and that is Parliament!
Your MP can be reached at the House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA.
“There are idiots. And there are Congressmen – but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain