Thursday, June 03, 2010

Beware of Politicians Talking About Guns

It's difficult to know what to say about the terrible events in Cumbria yesterday apart from expressing sheer horror and sympathy for the victims and their families.

In circumstances like this, politicians feel the urgent need to say and do something. Anything. They should resist the temptation.

Terrible deeds like this happen every so often. They can't be explained. They have absolutely nothing to do with the state of our gun laws. Quite simply, an individual flipped. Nothing could have been done to prevent it, little can be done to explain it.

So if you hear a politician calling for our gun laws to be reviewed or strengthened you will be hearing a politician jerking his/her knee.


Will said...

Hate to disagree Iain, but if there were 0 guns on Britain's streets, these tragedies wouldn't happen. And that would clearly be a good thing.

I agree that when politicians talk about tightening gun laws, what they are proposing won't necessarily change the availability of guns to those who want to use them to kill.

For me, the implication of this is that when politicians talk about tightening gun laws, they need to explain or be asked why what they propose will better limit the availability of guns.

JuliaM said...

"In circumstances like this, politicians feel the urgent need to say and do something. Anything. They should resist the temptation."

The problem is, Iain, id they stay silent, that leaves the field wide open for the likes of Paul Squires and his ridiculous ideas to ban ammunition instead!

Leave a vacuum and the lobbyists and hoplophobes and bansturbators will fill it...

George said...

This was one very angry man.

We need to know what set him off on his mission, then we may have an analysis to determine, (or rather second guess with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight) if anything could have prevented the events. Quite clearly the knee jerk response to Dunblane cannot and should not be used to respond to the events in Cumbria.

It is a dreadful tragedy which does not need 24/7 media attention and the spotlight of ignorant and unnecessary posturing by media talking hands who know and understand sweet "F.A.".

And the same follows for politicians.

snurgling said...

My first question is how many murders each year are as a result of illegal firearms? I do not think banning all legally held firearms in case someone may have a breakdown of some sorts is a practical solution.

_ said...

They'd have to be pretty thick to call for tighter gun laws. I doubt this murderous idiot would have managed to rampage so unhindered in a country where citizens are allowed to own the means to defend themselves.

Still, at least we're not like those violent Americans, eh?

Bill Quango MP said...

As a responsible MP I should like to be first to draw the public's attention to the recent release of Red or Dead Redemption and this incident.
If I don't some other politician will.

Gooding said...

First tiem commenter.

Not an advocate of guns being freely or even selectively available as they are in the US.

However, as an immigrant from a gun-using country, I would point out one factor that I think has not yet been mentioned:

If guns were legal, a taxi driver at the rank were shooting began may have ended this before so many people got injured. Taxi drivers would I am sure be one of the first groups to take up gun licences if they were available but tightly regulated. At least, that is a very real possibility.

So there is a counter argument to be made here to the usual "If there weren't guns this would never have happened".

This is not necessarily an argument I disagree with, and I do not advocate widespread gun availability. But I use the argument to illustrate the problem with knee jerk reactions. Bad cases making bad laws etc.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Thanks for the common sense Iain. We shall now all no doubt watch avidly as politicians proceed to show very little.

pete-s said...

The normal nonsence comes out when these things happen. 3000 deaths on the road, so lets ban all road transport. Too many deaths by stabbings, lets ban all knives. If we were back in early history I am sure they would want to ban all rocks, so that stone tools cannot be made.

Some day, some people will finally realise we live in a real world with real dangers and it is IMPOSSIBLE to eliminate all of them.

MikeyP said...

but if there were 0 guns on Britain's streets, these tragedies wouldn't happen.

How exactly do you propose this wondrous state of affairs is to come about? Any one who really wants one can get a gun, legally or otherwise. I would say if everyone had a gun, these things would be less likely to happen, or at least be less severe!

S.B.S said...

How true, when politicians talk about guns they show such ignorance, and think they know it all.
I have always been an advocate of being able to defend yourself with what ever you want, I have carried firearms, been in the military.
One of the people killed yesterday was known to me, and I keep thinking if he had had a firearmt to reply, it may well have ben a different story!

Tim Johnson said...

Iain, a terrible tragedy occurred yesterday. The reasons why he did this terrible thing do not yet appear to be clear. However, one thing that should be very clear is that he would have found it much, much harder to kill 12 people and injure many more if he had not had access to fire arms. Let us not forget, guns are weapons developed to KILL. Does this mean that there should be further restrictions on firearms? I don’t know. Do I want a knee jerk reaction on the part of the government? Certainly not. Do I want there to be a serious and sober review of our guns laws? Absolutely.
I cannot understand why you equate holding a review with a knee jerk response.

itinerantlondoner said...

Hmm. Not sure taxi drivers having guns would help: this study suggests having a gun is not likely to make you any safer, on average.

& this appears to show that their is a correlation between gun ownership and shootings by country

David Anthony said...

"Nothing could have been done to prevent it, little can be done to explain it."

If he didn't legally own a gun, a dozen people may still be alive today. simple.

JuliaM said...

"We shall now all no doubt watch avidly as politicians proceed to show very little."

May's response was a little nbit more encouraging than I'd suspected: "She told MPs it was "right and proper" to have a debate after the killings but warned it would be "wrong to react before we know the full facts"."

JuliaM said...

"...if there were 0 guns on Britain's streets, these tragedies wouldn't happen."

We'd still have knifings, beatings, car homicide, etc...

Plus, of course, we'd still have all the illegal gun deaths. You know, the ones that are becoming routine in parts of London and Manchester and Liverpool.

"And that would clearly be a good thing."

Ah, good intentions. You could pave a road with those. I wonder where it would lead..?

Roger Thornhill said...

Yes, Iain. Indeed.

As @Gooding says, having law abiding citizens around that can "pop a cap in his ass" will curb some of those willing to massacre "and saving one life" argument can now be thrown back at last.

Guns do not kill people. People kill people. Look at China and see those massacres in schools using knives and axes. The men "lost it", and IMHO, sought a last vain attempt at power and control, something they may have felt they had utterly and totally lost for good.

Who is to say that this gunman would not have otherwise gone into a nursery school to play out his final attempt at power?

I am of the opinion that this event would not have occurred as it did had the gunman known they could have been taken down by just about anyone at any time.

Indy said...

Equally the fact that tragedies like this occur does not mean that we should shy away from reviewing legislation in case we err on the side of emotion.

The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people in the UK do not own or have access to any kind of gun. Nor do they want to.

(Which means that if they flip out, as can happen, they don't shoot 12 people dead. Because they don't have a gun.)

Stating the obvious I realise.

But surely our laws should reflect the values and beliefs of the vast majority of UK citizens who don't have guns - and don't want to have guns - rather than the small but vocal minority who do?

Fausty said...

On cue, Jamie Reed yesterday called for a review of the gun laws.

I'm glad May has a level head over this. Further restriction would be nothing short of ridiculous.

Gun laws merely prevent the law-abiding from holding guns; criminals will always find a way around them.

If anything, I'd be for a relaxation of gun laws.

Paddy Briggs said...

Q1. How did he get the guns?

Q2. If legally what about the checks and balances?

Q3. If illegally how did it happen and could it have been avoided?

All legit questiuons for politicians and others to ask.

p smith said...

I am by no means pro-gun but no gun laws would have prevented this (apart from an absolute ban on all firearms which presents other issues). This guy legally owned a gun for 20 years but no law is capable of anticipating whether a once perfectly normal decent person might just flip. I would therefore tend against some tokenist reform of the law just to fit the peculiar circumstances of this one case.

Our current laws are pretty strict and given that this is only the third such incident in a quarter of a century, I think they actually work quite well. We don't want to turn into the United States, we are fine as we are.

I would not however countenance a relaxation of the laws. The kind of argument that says that if one of the victims had a gun, he might have been stopped earlier, is just nonsense. You can't brandish guns on the high street and these victims had mere seconds to react. The idea that we want the great unwashed wandering Britain's streets armed with rifles "just in case" is a horrifying prospect.

And can we please do away the retarded tag line "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". Yes, people kill people but people with guns can kill a shed load more people than people armed only with their fists.

As ever, the true answer lies between the two opinionated agenda driven positions.

Gavin Gamble said...

I completely agree with Iain. Banning guns is a ridiculous reaction. How many people die at the hands of knives in this country? and how many die at the hands of licensed guns? what do you propose, a ban on kitchenware?


ciphergoth said...

A sense of proportion? Yeah, that'll catch on.

Kevin said...

well i disagree - you should only be allowed to own a gun if you can demonstrate a need for it in your work - farmers, those that cull deer etc.

no one needs to own a gun at home just for the fun of killing animals.

if you want to shoot at targets - lock the guns up in a shooting range -

otherwise you dont need a gun - full stop - other than the fact you are a sadist and you enjoy killing animals and inflicting pain for fun - like the royal family for instance

seniorspeaks said...

Politicians feel the need to react because the media is reacting. There is little to debate regarding this tragedy, so the media chooses to have a more general conversation about gun laws. When the story everybody is talking about leaves us with nothing to debate, the media and some people are so obsessed with debating that they will find something and attach it to the story. That is what's happening now.

George said...

I presume that in repsonse to the shootings all the Shooting events in the 2012 Olympics will be cancelled?

Hamish said...

Er, I thought you were a politician, Iain, if not an elected one.
Sage advice from my grandmother:
if you've got nothing to say, say it.

Libertarian said...

I agree with you Iain

Indy said...

P Smith says: “This guy legally owned a gun for 20 years but no law is capable of anticipating whether a once perfectly normal decent person might just flip.”

That’s the point. Of course the law can’t predict when someone will flip. But it can predict that the consequences of someone who owns a gun flipping will be more deadly than the consequences of someone who does not own a gun flipping.

It is therefore entirely logical to argue that there should be a legal presumption against the possession of firearms, so that people should have to demonstrate a compelling reason why they should be allowed to own a gun.

There may be any number of reasons why someone might validly need a gun - but I suggest sport is not one of them.

JuliaM said...

"But surely our laws should reflect the values and beliefs of the vast majority of UK citizens who don't have guns - and don't want to have guns - rather than the small but vocal minority who do?"

You have any small, niche interests, Indy? Something that the vast majority of the population don't share?

Stamp collecting, maybe? Now, that might be a cover for money laundering.

Trainspotting? Could be a cover for terrorist activity.

Fishing? Ooooh, polluting our waterways, and those hooks! So sharp! You could have someone's eye out...

Best we stop you doing it. For the good of society. OK?

You know, people like you worry me far more than any armed crazy man. There's so many more of you, and you do so much more damage...

Future History of England said...

Guns are Illegal in this country, the laws exist, You can not tighten them any more. Your always going to get one crack pot, SHIT HAPPENS, it is a wonderful expression.

The problem is you lot, the "English" who have this idiotic thing of, "if it saves one life it is worth it" mentality.

I got an idea, let no one drive, no one use a knife to cut steak, or no one to use a pair of scissors and you'll save millions of lives in time, quick do it now before some made person stabs someone with a pair of scissors!

You need to get a grip, things happen, you deal with it and you move on. If you want to "Stop" it from happening, IT WILL NOT WORK!

JuliaM said...

"And can we please do away the retarded tag line "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". Yes, people kill people but people with guns can kill a shed load more people than people armed only with their fists."

I drove past a queue of elderly aunties and small kids waiting for a bus today. At 30MPH, in my nearly two tonne SUV.

A flick of the wheel and a little press of the accelerator and I could have mown them down like skittles.

If people want to commtt murder, they will find a way.

Evensong said...

I may be wrong here as at the time I was sort of three-quarters listening, but I am pretty sure Jamie Reed was this morning saying it is important to ascertain all the facts behind this tragedy before thinking about reviews and changes to existing legislation.

Hopefully however we will see a correct and informed response to the shootings by the new Government and not the god-awful populist reactionary attitude we have had to suffer in the last 13 years.

Just Wonderful said...

There was already a politician calling for an outright ban in the debate after Theresa May's announcement this afternoon. I can't recall his name as my eyes were too busy being rolled back into my head at his call for an outright ban.

Theresa May made a very well balanced and sensible statement and was right to say that the facts of the case need to be established before any review should be carried out. It's also right that it should be just that a review, not an excuse to simply smack down another new law.

Too often we see knee-jerk political reactions leading to badly thought out, badly drafted laws. You need look no further than the dangerous dogs act to see an excellent example of knee jerk policy making. Years after this shambolic legislation was introduced the same breeds of dogs are being bred illegally and are still killing children in their own homes. Badly drawn up legislation is far worse than having no law at all as it raises expectations amonst the public that "that problem has been solved." Of course when the same problem arises once more there is understandable anger and frustration.

What happened yesterday was horrible for all involved but rushing headlong into an orgy of ill considered legislation is no way to prevent such things happening again.

Unsworth said...

@ Kevin

Are you some sort of city dweller?

The Grim Reaper said...

Will, the first person who commented on this thread, is an utter half-wit. Do you seriously believe a situation can be brought about where there are no guns on the street at all?

Simon Harley said...

As a gun-owning Cumbrian who spent most of yesterday indoors, I offer my useless opinion.

This was a freak event, certainly unforeseeable, unlike Dunblane. This man Bird had apparently legally owned firearms for two decades and had no previous mental health problems, then had just snapped. It could technically happen to anyone who owns a gun. A good reason to curb gun ownership further perhaps?

I would say no. Take cars for example. Having been in nearly a dozen car crashes in my twenty-four years of life, I have no particular desire to drive or own one. Being responsible for nearly two tons of metal moving at speed does not appeal to me. Last year well over two thousand people were killed in road-accidents, yet we don't have draconian laws governing car ownership when they're obviously a far greater threat to public life than guns.

Were those deaths yesterday avoidable? Of course they were. But Bird could have taken his anger out in any number of different ways, not least barrelling around Whitehaven town centre in his car knocking people down. At the end of the day, if someone wants to kill someone, they'll find a way.

Novel said...

it's called the politicians' syllogism:

We must do something.
This is something
We must do this.

fyoc said...

Your position is incredibly similar to what Cameron said today. Do you think he read your blog and took your advice?!

James Higham said...

Yes, Iain - quite right. The pollies have seized this opportunity to once again hit guns when they should be doing the opposite-freeing up gunownership so that this sort of thing cannot happen.

The stats are there - wherever gun restrictions are tightened, gun crime and overall violent crime increases. It never goes the other way.

Catosays said...

June 03, 2010 1:57 PM , Blogger Kevin said...

if you want to shoot at targets - lock the guns up in a shooting range -

And exactly how would you guarantee the security of the range? I imagine that you'd be the first to volunteer to guard your local range.


john in cheshire said...

If we were allowed to bear arms, as in the US, then perhaps someone in the area would have 'stopped' Mr Bird, perhaps saving some of the lives that he took.

Daedalus said...

This ones going to run and run and as usual the law abiding will be punished. I put this on the Spectators Coffeehouse's wall yesterday. By the way I gave up my FAC some time ago due to the kids getting older and my not being able to keep a very expensive hobby up.

I can see already that the anti gun lobby will be out in force over this, with demands for the toughest gun laws in Europe to be increased. Increasing gun laws will not help! Anyone who really wants to obtain a gun will do so if they want to, and that gun will be illegal NOT CONTROLLED BY GUN LAWS. I have to say I do not know if he had an FAC (Fire Arms Certificate). If he did there must be a public inquiry, there was not one after Hungerford or Dunblaine, from my point of view because they would not have resulted in the answers that those in power wanted.

Now very controversial; if some ordinary people in the immediate area had guns of there own it may be that he would not have been able to carry on. Just look at what has happened to gun crime in those states of the USA who have approved OPEN carry of firearms.

Its trite, but: If you outlaw firearms only outlaws will have firearms. You only need to look at the number of people killed in drug wars etc, and many of them innocent!


LancashireCat said...

I understand there were 600,00 gun licences granted last year.Why so many? News reports say that Derek Bird had two guns passed on from his father which he intended to pass on to his son. He is not known to have been involved in the usual shooting activities so why should he be granted a licence? Apart from a fit and proper person test, surely licence applications should make clear for what purpose a gun is required.
Maybe not new gun laws but a much sticter system of licensing and monitoring of gun use is required.
No gun, no shootings.

trevorsden said...

Typically the very first post sets the tone for the inevitable rubbish.

'if' -- well there are guns on our streets and people are shot by them every day. They are illegal guns.

Shotguns are carefully licensed for people that need them. Or are supposed to be.

This man it seems displayed clear signs of instability including brandishing a gun the day before this incident. But nothing was done. That is the issue.

Our gun laws have got steadily stricter since Victorian times and I suspect that the numbers of murders done by guns has gone steadily up. Labour made great political issues of gun laws to help them win the election in 97. Gun crime has gone steadily up and it has not stopped these spree killings. They seem to happen every 10 yers.

jbw said...

JuliaM said...

"The problem is, Iain, id they stay silent, that leaves the field wide open for the likes of Paul Squires and his ridiculous ideas to ban ammunition instead!"

I once had some silly PC inspect my guns, just after returning from a competition in the US. She made a huge fuss that the 1000 rounds I had put on my certificate renewal was now reduced to about 50 rounds.

Despite explaining about the competition, she said she was duty bound to report this infraction to her Sergeant. I then explained that by the time she was back at the station I would already have made another 1000 rounds for the next competition. She was so out of her depth it was laughable.

She admitted that she hoped to join the firearms unit - I kid you not.

jbw said...

When guns are outlawed - only outlaws will have guns.

jbw said...

It might be interesting to find the number of people killed by legal guns and compare with the number of people killed by police cars.

Perhaps we should ban all police cars?

Cynic said...

"if there were 0 guns on Britain's streets, these tragedies wouldn't happen"

Nonsense. The majority of problems lie with illegal guns and they will always be there. In any case, may people in the countryside NEED guns to use as part of their livelihood eg killing vermin

WCH said...

The legality, or lack thereof, of a gun has little to do with its eventual use. And furthermore, if you banned guns, angry people would sadly just seek out a different weapon, such as a car.

We already have some of the tougher gun laws in the western world and it is rare that those with the licenses (e.g. gamekeepers, farmers, etc.) are the ones causing the trouble.

You cannot eliminate these sad and sorry events. You can only try to comfort the victims' families and ensure society that these events are rare indeed.

steve said...

It is amazing that while driving the individual didn't run anybody over.

On average 2,700 people are killed each year on the roads. I think cars should be banned.........

The individual was deranged. But how many commenting here have used a mobile phone or took to the wheel after a drink?

Hammers are used in more murders than any other implement. Perhaps these should be banned too?

And as some have mentioned what about illegal arms?

My point is death should be mourned. The method is immaterial.

Thomas Rossetti said...

Rarely I am moved to write comment on your blog these days, but I am doing so today because I agree so wholeheartedly with what you have said. The events in Cumbria are in explicable and no amount of legislation could prevent such tragedies happening in future.

@Will (11:38am)

You write:

"[I]f there were 0 guns on Britain's streets, these tragedies wouldn't happen."

This is logically correct but patently absurd nonetheless. How would you practically remove every single gun from Britain's streets?

If there were no illegal drugs on Britain's streets, abuse of cocaine and heroin wouldn't occur, either.

Slim Jim said...

Well, some of the comments here have convinced me that there is a parallel universe, and I'm not part of it. As with nuclear weapons, we cannot un-invent guns or rifles. I also agree that we have very strict laws to control the use of firearms.

As for Indy's comment: 'There may be any number of reasons why someone might validly need a gun - but I suggest sport is not one of them.' Maybe Bird forgot to put 'killing people' on his application? I can't remember whether or not I had to give a reason for wanting a shotgun certificate, but sport is a very valid reason! Or putting food on the table. Tip: it's better to make sure it's dead first. I do find clay pigeons a bit crunchy though.

Me said...

Well said, Iain.
I wondered how long it was going to be before some idiot politician came on the airwaves calling for stricter gun control, and sure enough, it wasn't long and OF COURSE it was a socialist.
Why can they never accept that you can't legislate for everything? That you can't legislate for all human behaviour?
People do bad things and you try to prevent this as much as you can but you can't prevent everything and you just have to live with this. To try and do so restricts freedom to an unacceptable degree. Which is exactly what socialism is all about.

Frugal Dougal said...

I don't think it would be possible to make gun laws tighter. Had citizens owned guns, this eejit might have been killed before he had concluded his rampage. At the very least, we need all our police armed routinely.

tapestry said...

The owner of the gun licences had a criminal record. Surely committing a criminal offence should immediately bring an end to all licenses to possess guns.

Peter said...

Thankfully these sorts of incidents are rare in the UK. I think this is because we have the balance about right and our gun controls are working reasonably well.
Looking at the USA and Finland, where gun ownership is much less regulated, the number of incidents recorded are unacceptably high.
We should be guided by the police if any extra controls are needed, not politicians.

Mrs Rigby said...

There are also calls for all police to be armed, but armed police wouldn't have stopped him, because they weren't there - although there are armed police at Sellafield.

Cameron's response is the right one - wait and, he says

we should not leap to knee-jerk conclusions on what should be done on the regulatory front

Ben said...

Happily most politicians I've heard have robustly resisted the temptation to call for a change in the law. Even Diane Abbot, not famed for her common sense on such subjects, didn't take that view.

The shadow Home Secretary was asked a dumb question by a BBC interviewer: how come a taxi driver had a firearms certificate? He sensibly replied that there was no reason at all why not, any more than if someone were a postman or an MP.

Despite very restrictive laws on gun ownership in this country, we do have a serious and growing problem with illegally held weapons. It is this very real problem that needs to be addressed, and not by making more laws.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

People with jerky knees should exercise restraint, for what they are really doing is laying the ground for yet another curtailment of individual freedom.

I traveled over about two dozen speed bumps on one journey today. These are put there, not, as I believed to furnish my garage with a regular source of income, but to deter speeders. Surely, the solution would be to mete out massive fines or punishments, rather than make the rest of us, suffer?

It is the same with all legislation that panders to the lowest common denominator, the scum and the loonies of this world. Once every twenty years or so, someone goes beserk with a rifle. A tragedy to the loved ones of the victims, but not a reason to punish us all.

Anna said...

It's true, as many have pointed out, that tragedies such as these are often inexplicable and therefore harder to anticipate and prevent.

It's also true that someone bent on mass killing will find a way. Nevertheless, a gun is a unique weapon in that a man who is armed is superhuman in a way that a man (or woman) with a knife or club is not, and guns will have a special fascination for the inadequate and mentally unstable as well as for the genuine marksman. It is interesting to note that the 'spree' killers at Hungerford, Dunblane and now Cumbria, held their guns legally. So checks must be rigorous. Why, for example, was Derrick Bird, with a criminal record for theft, allowed a licence? Anyone convicted of even a non-violent crime should not be allowed this privilege and responsibility.

As for those who advocate guns for all: where guns are prevalent, many innocent bystanders are killed in police shoot outs with armed criminals. Many householders attempting to defend themselves with a gun often have it turned on them by the criminal. And just look at the statistics: where gun control is lax or non-existent, gun violence, whether murder or homicide, is high. Where gun control is tight, such as the UK, gun violence is low. Believe it or not, we have a very low rate of gun crime, and murder generally, compared with many other countries. (Don't quote Switzerland, where all hold guns and gun crime is low - they hold guns, but no ammunition.)

James said...

What's really disgusting is the clamour from the gun lobby at times like this - can't they shut up for a bit? And why exactly are you joining in Iain?

Note that Cameron is using the phrase about there not being a "switch" in people's heads - this is straight from the US gun lobby hymn sheet. I hadn't realised the extent to which the small arms industry lobbyists had penetrated UK Conservatives.

Perhaps some of them would like to set up an arms show in Whitehaven? Just to complete the point?

James said...

Yes Steve, he was deranged, but without guns he wouldn't have been able to wipe out a lot of people so quickly and easily.

All those of you going on about cars - how many deliberate mass-murders have been committed using cars recently that you've heard of? Anywhere in the world?

What the gun sales lobby can't answer is why ordinary people interested in using guns for sport can't use them at controlled clubs. Why exactly do they need them at home? Other than perhaps to occassionally kill another human being maybe?

Rita said...

It was so refreshing to have a considered and sensible response from DC. Not a jerking knee in sight. How refreshing.

It's an oddity isn't it, that a major incident seems to occur soon after a new Prime Minster takes office?

Indy said...

JuliaM I think your arguments are really unconvincing.

Yes a stamp collector might be a cover for money laundering. Yes a train spotter might be a terrorist in disguise. So might a lollipop lady for that matter.

But those are silly points.

There is nothing inherently dangerous about collecting stamps or watching trains. Stamps are not a lethal weapon, neither are binoculars.

A more valid comparison with access to guns would be with access to something that was potentially equally as lethal.

Poison for example. There are quite strict rules which apply to the purchase of poison. People are not allowed to buy poison without demonstrating why they need it.

And sport would not be a valid reason. We don't have rat poisoning championships, do we? Though I dare say some people might quite enjoy that.

Chalcedon said...

If more people had ready access to guns, especially hand guns, this crazy act would never have gotten out of hand as someone would have shot the bastard early on in his kiling spree. The UK has some of the most draconian legislation in the world regarding gun ownership. This is far, far too strict IMO. The Bill of Rights 1689 clearly states our right t bear arms. This has been seriously eroded after events like Hungerford and Dunblane. These are thankfully rare events. Funny how no-one bats an eyelid if it is gangsters involved in a shoot out. People should have more freedom regarding gun responsible ownership.

James said...

Chalcedon, you repeat the usual argument that if everyone were armed, there would be fewer shootings. Apart from the obvious fallacy that this simply increases the number of guns in the hands of unstable people.

The best example that this is demonstrably false is the US, where most killings involve children obtaining parental handguns and shooting themselves, each other or their own parents. In the US, few citizens are sufficiently trained to combat muggers, etc and there are also very many shootings of people by criminals where the deceased were seeking to defend themselves by drawing a weapon. In addition, because so many people have weapons, the police frequently shoot innocent people in situations where their moves were misinterpreted as being about to draw a weapon.

The sad truth is that many ordinary people cannot be trusted to have such dangerous and lethal weapons, whose purpose is that they are designed to kill. This is different to things like cars or bikes.

One key point about Whitehaven is why it was felt by the authorities that a taxi driver needed a sniper rifle. The basic question is - what was he intending to do with it? What was he going to snipe? It is illegal for example to kill most animals and nobody is allowed to just go onto land in the Lakes and shoot deer or birds. What was the sniper rifle for? What was at the back of his mind when he obtained it and what is at the back of the minds of others who hold such weapons?

DespairingLiberal said...

@James, re: your joke about an arms fair in Whitehaven, that believe it or not is exactly what happened in the US following the slaughter at Columbine - the gun lobby wanted to set up a show there! I recall a local judge stopped it on breach of public order grounds. The sheer breathtaking de-humanized robo-mentality of the gun-pushers at times like this is what takes the breath away.

Indy said...

Chalcedon, your argument is even more ludicrous.

If it was the case that increasing access to weapons reduced the likelihood of maniacs going on shooting sprees we would expect to see far fewer of these sorts of incidents in countries where gun ownership is more commonplace.

Like the USA for example.

Do you think that is the case?

Chalcedon said...

@James; In switzerland all men between 18 years (I think) and 60 are in a national militia. trained in the use of arms and keeping an assault rifle and ammunition at home. There are not regular shootings nor massacres over there are there? and the burglary rate is pretty low too.

The laws here on gun ownership are strick, with all but single shot pistols banned outright. I think this is wrong. I also think that access to guns via the licensing regs is tough enough as it stands.