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.