Guns in Britain
Britain is an anti-gun liberal’s dream. It is illegal to own a handgun, with a penalty of five years in prison for unlawful possession. No more than 4% of homes in England contain guns. Those few who are gun owners are subject to draconian gun laws, including laws regarding “safe gun storage,” even though the gun would probably then be inaccessible at short notice. Not that that matters to the British gun authorities—self defense is not considered a legitimate reason to own a firearm. Even imitation guns are banned.
And the British system works—there are very few guns in Britain. The police still go unarmed. Even criminals have trouble finding guns. Gun crime in Britain is far less than in the United States. There is no serious opposition to Britain’s effective ban on all weapons—the pro-gun movement in England is practically nonexistent. British law is the embodiment of every gun control advocates dream.
I read a great many mystery and crime novels, from writers both in the United States and England. And there is a difference in the role guns play in the plots—in the American stories, guns are literally everywhere, and both the police and the villains are heavily armed. In the British books, guns are rarer—the police rarely carry, and even the villains don’t pack near as much heat as there American counterparts.
But the American books are fairly optimistic—the villain usually gets caught (or shot), and even the darkest American mysteries usually have a glimpse of restored order in the conclusion. The British books often lack that optimism—the police spend pages agonizing at their inability to stop crime; the villain often escapes justice; and there is a sense of escalating lawlessness and anarchy. In American crime literature, the system, though flawed, works; in British detective novels, it is utterly broken.
But can you really judge two justice systems by comparing mystery stories? Perhaps not every time, but in this case, such a comparison is right on. British gun control advocates have succeeded in making guns illegal—but they also ensured that the only gun owners are violent criminals. Violent crime has exploded.
According to a November 2002 Reason magazine article (note that these statistics are slightly outdated, but there is no reason to believe that British crime rates have dropped significantly), violent crime is out of control. Britain enacted its handgun ban in 1996, by 2001, crime rates had doubled. By 2002, your chances of being mugged in London were six times higher than in New York City. 53% of burglaries took place while the victims were at home, compared to a mere 13% in the United States. According to the 2003 International Crime Victims Survey, Britain suffered from a crime rate three times that of the United States. By 2002, a UN study stated that England and Wales had the Western world’s worst record of criminal offenses. And British crime rates are artificially low—after the fifth crime against an individual, the government stops counting, which means that an extra two million violent crimes go unrecorded each year.
How do criminals get around Britain’s gun laws? This may come as a shock to liberals, but government is not omniscient. Many guns get through, and every one falls into the hands of violent criminals. And those criminals who can’t get guns just use knives—knife crime is a major problem, accounts for much of Britain’s violent crime. And no, you can’t use a knife for protection in England—carrying knives longer than three inches is a crime.
Gun control has been a total disaster in Great Britain. It is truly mind-boggling that so many liberals want to try it here. No matter how efficient the police force (and our police forces are often underfunded) or functional the prison system (and our prison system is very, very poor), a defenseless citizenry will always remain vulnerable to crime. They have found that fact out in Great Britain—and if the gun control zealots ever get their way, we will find that out in America as well. Crime novels aren’t always a good indicator of a county’s success in fighting crime—but this time they are.
I went to a lot of sites to get infomation for this post, and you can find them here, here, here, and here.