It’s all raging on the gun front. They are out in force. It’s also very frustrating, and here’s for why. Here is an example of a conversation between myself and GAU-8. Bearing in mind this is on the back of a number of posts on the ontology of rights, and these comments are a complete distraction from that.
Before we start, one thing I would urge of every reader, is to check out the excellent article “Dispelling The Myth – Why the UK is NOT more violent than the US“. It’s a great read, which (though a few years old) deals with statistical abuses of data concerning guns and comparisons of violence of the US to the UK.
The first comment from this man:
Drugs are banned, yet widely available. US, UK, EU. Same with guns….UK gun crime offense rate is ticking up 4 years in a row.
Are the UK, EU nominal rates lower? Yes. Are they increasing though? Yes. Nobody wants to acknowledge the elephant in the room. And it’s not guns.
As ever, when someone makes these claims, it is so easy to make the claim, but takes so long to unpick them and show them to be wrong, or at least far more nuanced than is apparent from the claim.
My reply was as follows:
Ticking up because of flood of arms into the country?
But they have actually just dropped:
A look at the effect of the gun legislation after Dunblane [one of very fe mass shootings over the last 50 years in the UK], 20 years on:
Firearms offences in Scotland lowest for 20 years:
Furthermore, I believe the rise in UK firearms offences is underwritten by imitation firearms offences that have grown a good deal. They get included in firearms offence stats.
His reply to this didn’t deal with any of the links or claims in any detail or explicit fashion. it was just a chart:
His implicit point, one assumes, is that legislation has no effect on gun crime. But the devil here is in the detail, as criminologist and public policy professor Peter Squires agrees:
“Perhaps not necessarily at first,” he says. “In fact, for the next four years gun crime continued to increase, by about 105 per cent over that period.”
But that doesn’t mean it was a failure. The reason gun crime continued to rise was because the definition was too wide-ranging; it included everything and anything, every single report where a victim reported that a gun was used, even if that gun was never fired, even if it was a replica, or a fake, or even a toy. So by 2003, the laws were refined.
The use of air weapons and pellet guns, which made up a large number of gun crime complaints, was taken out of the Firearms Act and put under the auspices of the new Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, which meant gun crime figures purely under their Firearms Act definition began to decrease markedly thanks to reclassification taking air weapons out of the equation.
Squires says: “In fact, gun crime began to decrease for about 10 or 12 years after that, and it’s only in the last two years that we’ve seen it start to creep up again.”
Before the act came in, handguns were as obtainable as any other gun in this country. Even the pro-gun lobby in this country capitulated fairly quickly… which might have more to do with class divisions.
Squires says: “Handguns were mainly used by urban, working-class men who would fire them on entirely legal and licensed ranges. The more elite end of the sport, the grouse shooters, was quite happy to let the handgun shooters go.
“Around that time the US was seeing a massive shift to carrying guns for self defence, and there were even arguments over here that we should have some kind of Second Amendment to allow people to carry guns, so the Firearms Act was basically a statement against Britain going down the route of gun culture.”
An amnesty was organised which had a very high take-up; handguns were licensed, so it was easy to know who had possession of one, and there was a compensation scheme in place to reimburse owners.
In the years before the act was commenced, Home Office statistics show that homicides involving firearms were 75 in 1993, the same in 1994, and 81 in 1995. Aside from spikes around the turn of the century, the subsequent years have all seen markedly lower gun-deaths recorded.
The Gun Control Network, a campaigning body set up in the wake of Dunblane, records its own gun-death statistics based on media reports, which it says generally tally with official figures once they come out. For the past few years it has reported 20 deaths in 2014-15, 24 in 2015-16, 27 in 2016-17, and since 1 April this year, 15 deaths in England, Wales and Scotland.
So the act does in fact seem to have made a difference. But a cursory look at the news will show that on any given day there are guns employed by the criminal fraternity in robberies, attacks and gang violence. They don’t all result in death, of course, but they are out there, and being used. So where are they coming from?
The problem for us is illegal guns that come from across the channel. Imagine the problems we would have if we added legal gun ownership to the illegal ones!
I replied to the commenter:
Let’s get this straight. You just said gun offence rates are ticking up over four years. I show you evidence they have actually just lowered. You then show a chart indicating gun homicide rates are bottoming out over the last 3 years.
Are you going to admit to being wrong, disingenous, lying or elsewise?
You are not doing your credibility any favours.
His chart shot himself in the foot. To date, he still hasn’t accepted that he has to have been wrong in some way. This is very telling. It’s not about truth, it’s about winning at all costs (and gaining as many upvotes as he can, most probably!).