Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gun Culture Eradicated

Hat tip to The Other Side for this one.

Illegally held guns are flooding Britain’s inner cities and a spate of fatal shootings in London has highlighted gun culture’s allure to disaffected youth. This comes despite the best efforts of the law and its enforcers to restrict the supply of guns. Yet, any man, woman or street urchin could own a gun in Victorian Britain — at least until 1870 when a licence fee was charged if they wanted to carry the weapon outside their home. And, surprisingly, there was very little gun crime.

Obviously. And reminds me of this tale - "Beatrix Potter's journal records a discussion at a small country hotel in Yorkshire, where it turned out that only one of the eight or nine guests was not carrying a revolver."

Britain's gun culture has been destroyed in a remarkably short period of time. US citizens, please take note!

There were a quarter of a million registered firearms in private hands before the First World War and the true figure was almost certainly far higher. In those years the average number of crimes involving firearms in London was 45. In 2006 it was 3,350.

More privately owned firearms equals less crime. Could it possibly have anything to do with the ability of people to protect themselves from violent criminals?

Proper restriction was not introduced until after the First World War. The Firearms Act 1920 decreed that gun ownership required a certificate that the local chief of police could withhold from anyone he deemed “unfitted to be trusted with a firearm”. However, the accompanying guidelines made clear “a good reason for having a revolver” included “if a person lives in a solitary house, where protection against thieves and burglars is essential”.

The legislation had less to do with armed robbery and more to do with the Lloyd George Government’s fear that a combination of disaffected soldiers returning from the Western Front, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the surge in trade union membership might be harbingers of trouble. It was thus better if firearms were monopolised by the State and the more responsible classes.

During the 1930s, the law was amended to raise the age in which firearms could be acquired from 14 to 17. Both before and after the Second World War, gun crime remained remarkably low. London recorded only 14 instances in 1951, by which time the guidelines had been changed to discourage owning firearms as an antiburglar deterrent.

And the rest is history- burglaries are up, armed crime is up and Britain has gone from a society in which police giving chase to armed criminals were handed guns by civilians to one where the civilian population is not only disarmed but actively discouraged by the legal system to take any action to defend themselves, their families or their homes from violent and predatory criminals. And it all began with what I'm sure the hoplophobes would call a "reasonable" gun law.

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