26 Nov 2007 07:10:13
Herbert Cannon
OT - Maybe - Elementary Watson

Subject: PRO gun article from the London Times


> http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...cle2409817.ece
>
> #From The Times
> September 8, 2007
> Wouldn‚?Tt you feel safer with a gun?
> British attitudes are supercilious and misguided
> Richard Munday
>
> Despite the recent spate of shootings on our streets, we pride
> ourselves on our strict gun laws. Every time an American gunman goes
> on a killing spree, we shake our heads in righteous disbelief at our
> poor benighted colonial cousins. Why is it, even after the Virginia
> Tech massacre, that Americans still resist calls for more gun
> controls?
>
> The short answer is that ‚?ogun controls‚?Ě do not work: they are indeed
> generally perverse in their effects. Virginia Tech, where 32 students
> were shot in April, had a strict gun ban policy and only last year
> successfully resisted a legal challenge that would have allowed the
> carrying of licensed defensive weapons on campus. It is with a measure
> of bitter irony that we recall Thomas Jefferson, founder of the
> University of Virginia, recording the words of Cesare Beccaria: ‚?oLaws
> that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are
> neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make
> things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they
> serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed
> man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.‚?Ě
>
> One might contrast the Virginia Tech massacre with the assault on
> Virginia‚?Ts Appalachian Law School in 2002, where three lives were lost
> before a student fetched a pistol from his car and apprehended the
> gunman.
>
> Virginia Tech reinforced the lesson that gun controls are obeyed only
> by the law-abiding. New York has ‚?obanned‚?Ě pistols since 1911, and its
> fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans.
> One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the
> strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down
> to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed
> violence (one thirteenth that of Britain).
>
> America‚?Ts disenchantment with ‚?ogun control‚?Ě is based on experience:
> whereas in the 1960s and 1970s armed crime rose in the face of more
> restrictive gun laws (in much of the US, it was illegal to possess a
> firearm away from the home or workplace), over the past 20 years all
> violent crime has dropped dramatically, in lockstep with the spread of
> laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons by law-abiding
> citizens. Florida set this trend in 1987, and within five years the
> states that had followed its example showed an 8 per cent reduction in
> murders, 7 per cent reduction in aggravated assaults, and 5 per cent
> reduction in rapes. Today 40 states have such laws, and by 2004 the US
> Bureau of Justice reported that ‚?ofirearms-related crime has
> plummeted‚?Ě.
>
> In Britain, however, the image of violent America remains unassailably
> entrenched. Never mind the findings of the International Crime Victims
> Survey (published by the Home Office in 2003), indicating that we now
> suffer three times the level of violent crime committed in the United
> States; never mind the doubling of handgun crime in Britain over the
> past decade, since we banned pistols outright and confiscated all the
> legal ones.
>
> We are so self-congratulatory about our officially disarmed society,
> and so dismissive of colonial rednecks, that we have forgotten that
> within living memory British citizens could buy any gun ‚?" rifle,
> pistol, or machinegun ‚?" without any licence. When Dr Watson walked the
> streets of London with a revolver in his pocket, he was a perfectly
> ordinary Victorian or Edwardian. Charlotte BrontÔŅĹ recalled that her
> curate father fastened his watch and pocketed his pistol every morning
> when he got dressed; Beatrix Potter remarked on a Yorkshire country
> hotel where only one of the eight or nine guests was not carrying a
> revolver; in 1909, policemen in Tottenham borrowed at least four
> pistols from passers-by (and were joined by other armed citizens) when
> they set off in pursuit of two anarchists unwise enough to attempt an
> armed robbery. We now are shocked that so many ordinary people should
> have been carrying guns in the street; the Edwardians were shocked
> rather by the idea of an armed robbery.
>
> If armed crime in London in the years before the First World War
> amounted to less than 2 per cent of that we suffer today, it was not
> simply because society then was more stable. Edwardian Britain was
> rocked by a series of massive strikes in which lives were lost and
> troops deployed, and suffragette incendiaries, anarchist bombers,
> Fenians, and the spectre of a revolutionary general strike made
> Britain then arguably a much more turbulent place than it is today. In
> that unstable society the impact of the widespread carrying of arms
> was not inflammatory, it was deterrent of violence.
>
> As late as 1951, self-defence was the justification of three quarters
> of all applications for pistol licences. And in the years 1946-51
> armed robbery, the most significant measure of gun crime, ran at less
> than two dozen incidents a year in London; today, in our disarmed
> society, we suffer as many every week.
>
> Gun controls disarm only the law-abiding, and leave predators with a
> freer hand. Nearly two and a half million people now fall victim to
> crimes of violence in Britain every year, more than four every minute:
> crimes that may devastate lives. It is perhaps a privilege of those
> who have never had to confront violence to disparage the power to
> resist.
>
> Richard Munday is editor and co-author of Guns & Violence: the Debate
> Before Lord Cullen
>