Friday, June 04, 2010

The gun control vultures begin to circle

[nb. I am not the Devil's Kitchen]

I didn't want to have to write about this so soon, but since the gun control lobby couldn't even wait 24 hours before exploiting the Cumbrian massacre, a few things need saying.

1. Storing ammunition separately

Gun control could have prevented Cumbria shootings

... Cumbria police were quiet about the firearms for a while – no doubt while they trawled their firearms-ownership database. Now they have acknowledged Bird was a gun owner.

The issues then become fairly simple, the incident utterly preventable. If firearm owners were not permitted to store guns and ammunition at home, the incident could not have happened.

... Keeping guns separate from ammunition would make such incidents preventable – and our communities safer places.

This is ignorant and arrant nonsense, typical of knee-jerk something-must-be-done pundits. How would this work? The police can make sure people are storing guns correctly by doing spot checks. Fine. Firearms have to be in a locked cabinet at the registered address. But—and this is the important bit—the police know how many guns the owner has. If you force farmers to store their ammunition elsewhere, they will just keep a couple of boxes in the bedroom.

Even if there is a record of how much ammunition has been bought, there is no way of checking how much has been used. So you buy two boxes, say you've used one of them and keep the spare box out of sight. Why wouldn't you? If you make ridiculous and unnecessary laws, even the most responsible and upstanding people will not respect them. Potential murderers definitely won't.

In any case, none of this would have prevented the Cumbrian tragedy. As became clear soon after The Guardian rushed out this op ed, it was a premeditated crime.

2. The handgun ban

After Dunblane, Lord Cullen's report recommended that guns should not be kept at home (the shooting lobby fought that recommendation tooth and nail, claiming it would destroy the sport [giant straw man - TFS]). In the event, a massive wave of public outrage saw handguns banned entirely [in 1997].

Yeah, and that made such a difference didn't it?

3. How much ammunition needs to be kept?

From the CiF comments—one of many making the same point:

I cannot understand the need to allow people to have weapons and huge amounts of ammo at home. Why do people need them? I've heard people talk about farmers having a purpose, but how often does a farmer actually need to fire a shotgun? Does he need to do so on such a frequent basis that he needs enough ammo at home to kill twelve and injure many more?

What quaint metropolitan view of country life is this? The ruddy-cheeked yokel occasionally popping out of the house to take a pot-shot at that pesky fox.

Listen here townies, if you go out lamping, you would hope to shoot maybe 10 to 30 rabbits. You need, therefore, a minimum of 10 to 30 bullets. Except you're going to miss. Probably quite a bit. So depending on how good a shot you are, you're going to need at least forty rounds of ammunition. The same applies to pheasant shooting. And if there's more than one of you, you're going to need that much multiplied by the number of guns used. See how that works?

4. Blame capitalism

Just when you think you've seen it all. Just when you think the left has scraped every barrel. Just when you think they have exhausted every avenue of self-parody, you get this...
Neil Clark: The egotistic culture of free market capitalism is to blame

Fuck you, Neil Clark. Fuck you to hell and back, you blood-sucking socialist parasite.

5. Ban, ban, ban

It cannot be overemphasised how rare these events are. As The Guardian says, in its more thoughtful editorial...
Such rampages are not unknown in Britain. But they are so rare that each is deeply etched in the national memory.

Indeed. The media coverage of such an extraordinary event as the Whitehaven massacre is wholly understandable, as it was with Fred West, Harold Shipman and Dennis Nielsen (none of whom used guns, of course) and for the same reason. It was incredibly unusual. The death toll from killing sprees of this kind in the last few decades works out at around 1 person per year. That will no comfort to the relatives of those who died, of course, but if you want to create punitive laws on the basis of a fatality rate of 0.0016 per 100,000, get to the back of a very long line.

Exceptional atrocities like this tell us nothing about the society in which we live. The people who commit them are so twisted and, by definition, unusual that they tell us nothing about ourselves. But those who instinctively turn to the state for more prohibitions as a response to even the most freakish events, those who expect the government to prevent every act of evil and those who exploit a distant tragedy to further their own agenda tell us a great deal about themselves.

There's only one person responsible for the events in Cumbria and he's dead. That's all there is to it.


Gareth said...

Quoted from the Guardian: "Such rampages are not unknown in Britain. But they are so rare that each is deeply etched in the national memory."

They are rare, and always have been rare, despite tighter and tighter gun legislation not because of it.

Anonymous said...

'There's only one person responsible for the events in Cumbria and he's dead. That's all there is to it.'

No. In a free gun owning society he would almost certainly have been stopped long before he killed himself. There are many people responsible for this, most of them people who have supported previous bans

manc_ill_kid said...

Could ambulances who were less risk averse have saved lives?

Anonymous said...

As a born and bred Cumbrian, still living about 15 miles East of where this took place, I can tell you that you won't hear calls for this kind of ban from the majority of us.

DK, you must have been a fly on the wall in all our local pubs on Thursday to have come up with your last sentence. He's dead, it happens, that's all there is too it.

On a side issue - unreported by the media and of course kept very much under wraps by the police, I thought you might like to know that around 30 of us took to our cars in 2's and 3's with mobile phones - no weapons - to watch for this bastard trying to get into Grasmere, Ambleside, Coniston, or Windermere. It's half term, the sun was out - if he tried to make it to those places, forget 12 - think about 50. The local police did the best job they could do, it really could have been so much worse.

Sargon the Demented said...

I wonder how long it'll be before booze, or drugs, or both are implicated?

JuliaM said...

"...but since the gun control lobby couldn't even wait 24 hours..."

24 hours? Most of them couldn't wait 24 minutes...

The bansturbators and control freaks never sleep, it seems. Eternal vigilance is still a useful watchword.

JuliaM said...

"We'd really need to compare two parts of the UK, one with a ban the other without (having matched each region for variables) to assess whether or not this kind of legislation was effective, or not?"

Oh, yes? And how are you going to match (for every variable - density of population, percentage of immigrant/youth population, percentage of built-up to rural area, etc) your theorhetical two regions?

"In this case I assume it was the context in which the killings took place that has caused so much outrage, rather than the fact than 12 more deaths occurred..."

Talk about stating the bleedin' obvious.

Kitler said...

Considering all the people who have died or been killed as a result of legally owned shotguns it would appear that owning a gun puts you in far more danger than not owning one.

Its a shame this is generally ignored by libertarians because it is important and needs to be discussed.

Blame the Revenue! said...

Even better, according to the Telegraph, Bird might have been tipped over the edge by a tax investigation.

So, how to stop crazed gun massacres?

Ban taxes!

Lurch said...

Ammo limits? What a load of crap. Hamilton killed all those kids with the number of rounds a target shooter would use warming up.
Bird might have used 40 rounds. A clay shooter would use more than that in a single session.
Ammo limits are nothing more than an administrative PITA and a sop to gun grabbers who haven't a clue. Public safety benefit? Zero.
I'm about 10 miles from the goings on, I've heard more than one story of people arming themselves for protection, they were glad of the chance to do so.

JuliaM said...

", like many others are now so habituated (or desensitised) to the myriad forms of killing that drawing attention to the context barely warrants a few lines on blog thread?"

Well, yes. Because unless you've noticed, there's a hell of a lot of it going on. Has been since time immemorial.

Can't see it changing any time soon, except in sci fi novels...

John R said...

As a citizen under the current gun control laws I have only two options when any gun related trouble starts - I can only ever be either a target or a witness.

The police will always do their best, but as they are only ever going to get a call once the shooting starts it's inevitable that they cannot stop crazies or criminals going on the rampage or stop them once they start. Only by having armed police on every street could this ever change.

Remember that in all recent rampages like this, the killer decided when to start and when to stop (by killing himself) the police were not able to intervene during the rampage.

Yes, we should review our gun laws, but as they currently only allow criminals and crazies to have weapons, it's not more regulation we need, but less.

I think the time is right to go back to pre-1920 rules with citizens allowed to carry weapons. These days I'd add mandatory training, various background/health checks etc but an armed citizenry would have limited the Cumbrian deaths.

Stephen said...

As a shotgun and firearm certificate holder I can say that all of the half-baked ideas mooted by the gun-banners will not reduce the risk of this happening.

Leaving aside the logistical and practical objections to centralised ammunition and firearms storage, if such control were already in existence now, all Bird would have done is gone along the 'secure site', booked out the guns and ammunition for a day's vermin control - like he would have done every week for years - and then gone on the rampage. Result = exactly the same as with the current law.

All central storage would do is massively increase the inconvenience to legitimate shooters and make it more difficult to use the guns for their legitimate purpose. Result = the number of certificate holders goes down, which is probably the real reason for such proposals. I mean, these people loath the private possession of firearms. They can't argue for complete prohibition because that would make them look like wingnuts. So they argue for prohibition by stealth.

Chalcedon said...

We have the right to bear arms. Bill of Rights, 1689

Stephen said...

We have the right to bear arms. Bill of Rights, 1689

The right is conditional - 'where permitted by law'. Well in most cases now it isn't permitted by law. Clearly the authors of the 1689 BoR had no intention in writing a blank cheque to posterity. More's the pity.

Stephen said...

Its a really unfortunately bit of wording, and has been interpreted as a guarantee of the right to bear arms for most of our history since then. We only 'lost' the right to own firearms for self defence in 1968

Not quite. In 1946 the Home Office issued a directive to the police to no longer consider self defence as a 'good reason' to possess a firearm. However some police forces continued to issue self defence certificates into the 1950s, until the practice ended. Though in those days, under the 1937 act, it is likely that a number of firearms continued to be possessed for reasons of self defence, even if not officially so.

As I target shooter who reloads his own ammunition I agree that the restrictions proposed are insane

The problem is that they are being proposed in bad faith. I can forgive naivete and stupdity. I can't abide the duplicity of the gun banners, who propose these controls not because they believe them to be effective, but because they know that they will make lawful use of firearms more difficult. By such means they hope that legitimate use will further decline. And they are right. The strategy has worked.

Michael said...

On the debate about areas in the UK where guns are allowed compared with those where a ban is in force - well - look at Isle of Man, where pistols are allowed, or the Channel Islands, where they are allowed, or Northern Ireland, where they are allowed. Look at how stable their murder rates are compared with ours. Trouble is, their murder rates are so tiny it makes little odds statistically. However banning more guns is pointless.

Interestingly since these shootings now police routinely demand that all those who shoot airpistols at clubs must now register all their shooting as if they were firearms.

Pure bloody madness. Soon they will demand licences for airpistols and other toys.

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