Friday, 12 August 2011

A right to bear arms?


Since the riots and looting, with the police initially unavailable and unwilling to intervene, vigilante groups formed to protect their families, homes and business. If the police can't protect us we must protect ourselves was the rally cry. Defending our society.

American friends were amazed. Astounded! "Why didn't you shoot them looters? Why did those cops just stand around eating donuts and scratching their ass? Take 'em down, you guys! Tear gas and shotguns and its all over in 5 minutes," and so on. And on the Norway massacre..well, you can guess.

This theme has been mildly echoed on blogs and in the comments of the papers.
The UK should allow its citizens to arm themselves and allow them the same rights as US citizens have.


During Hurricane Katrina National Guard were ordered by the Mayor to shoot looters. Whether they did, I don't know. Reports of widespread looting were numerous. Reports of murder and rape too, many later being found to be false. The point though, is that having an armed police, and home owners and soldiers didn't stop the looters there, which came about much like our own. There was no one there to stop them.

UK gun data is difficult to discover. It doesn't include Northern Ireland or Scotland. And world gun data seems to be way out of date. At the Millennium UK gun deaths was roughly 0.47 / 100,000 people. 210 total deaths. More in the countryside than in the cities. {There's just more guns in the country.} The disparity with the USA is amazing. If the UK was the population size of the USA we could guess gun deaths at 1,000.

In contrast the USA was 15.22 / 100,000. 31,000 deaths in 2006.
Non fatal injuries from firearms runs at some 200,000 a year.

Over half of those USA deaths are suicide. ½ % is accidents. So the figure is nearer 7.5 / 100k.
Hunting, very common in the USA, does not seem to result in many deaths.
In the UK gun accidents are so small as to be insignificant.

In the very rough areas like LA, as CU posted before, the sound of gunfire is as common as police sirens. In some states guns are worn openly, in holsters, as its legal, and no one really bats an eye. They are just an accessory like a phone.

My US colleagues tell me a gun is essential for home defence. Many of them have at least 2 and up to 10. For every intruder killed, there are four unintentional shootings. Individuals in a home with guns {50% of US homes have guns} are 4 times more likely to be killed than unarmed home-owners. Yet my US acquaintances would never give up their weapons. Every one has the right to defend their property. No one wants to be caught unarmed if the criminals are armed.
Which is a kind of circular argument, but seeing as the guns are already out there I can understand.

I doubt we're anywhere near ready to consider arming the people, even with terrorism and extremism as well as disorder. However Inspector Gadget supports the arming of the police. On the gun/deaths table that seems to raise death rates by firearms to 1 per 100k.
But should we do that? Wasn't it a shooting that was the excuse for all this rioting in the first place?
Or would armed police, with suitable powers, be a serious deterrent to the social disorder on the streets?

35 comments:

John Thomas said...

I do not agree with allowing guns for everyone as in the US, where the thing is to shoot then ask questions later. It is curious the mass shootings in this country have been done by people with police sanctioned gun licences. There was a program sometime ago on a city that is split in two in two countries, Niagra, a comparison was made between the 2 halves and the US side had far more more killing by shooting than the Canadian side, it could be that it is just in the US collective psychy. The police should be given more powers and told to get on useing the powers that they have, the use of more technology, that paint ball idea could be a good idea, the forensic science service should be invigorated and not farmed out (if the commercial forensic if they are not paid on time will not do the job).

Steven_L said...

Surely with today's technology we could make an ED-209 or something?

Sean said...

I think the figures for Australia that too has very different gun laws, but pretty much the same culture as the UK is off much more significance.

In Oz you cannot get a hand gun licence for self defence but you can use it in self defence.

We have moved too far the other way. Do you remember Blair in Opposition at Dunblane trying ever so hard not to make political capital out of it, TWAT

Sebastian Weetabix said...

The cultural argument is a very strong one. If you look at Switzerland virtually every able-bodied man aged 21-55 has an assault rifle at home (due to military service obligations) yet gun deaths are extremely low.

Yanks worship guns & gun use in a way other countries do not. Large numbers of US gun owners (judging by business acquaintances I have met over the last 2 decades in 100+trips to the USA) also seem not to be competent in handling firearms, despite owning dozens of the damn things. I've seen US friends do stuff which would have made my old RAF regiment instructor punch their lights out, just to get the weapon out of their hands.

Bill Quango MP said...

I did look at that John Thomas. Canadian gun laws are similar to U. NO handguns, Rifles with restricted permits. They have much more outdoor gun use up there, so many more guns than in the uk. Yet their death rates aren't too bad, even with all those easily available handguns just a train ride away. Mexico on the other hand is a gun death horror similar to USA.

Steven_L : I had to look that up.
Yes, that would be cool.

Sean & SW: Yes, that's true. But our UK culture, in the cities at least is pure American.
I'm sure an armed citizen population would have USA sort of gun death/crime figures.
But our police are not USA style city cops. So I expect they would average more European levels of shootings.

Anonymous said...

A few very hurried comments:-

- Most murders take place in areas with very strict (almost British-level) gun controls, such as Chicago and LA.

- Many states have introduced 'concealed carry' laws over the past 20 years, and all of those have seen their crime levels decrease significantly.

- Murder is higher in the US then in the UK (though see next point), but rape, robbery, burglary are all lower.

- Gun ownership was very common in Britain until the mid-20th Century, and we all know how low crime levels were then.

- Many Brits who go to the US comment on how safe it feels - http://tinyurl.com/bt2an7. Proves nothing I know, but interesting nonetheless.

More points I could make but I need to run.

Sean said...

The right hon. Member needs to get to the fees office and get a first class seat booked to Melbourne, he can watch the movie "kingdom" on the way.

After a few days on StKilda beach getting over the jet lag I am sure you can find plenty of guns and ghettos in oz if you know where to look.

Personally I could not give a monkeys over the stats, it really comes down to right and wrong, I feel safer driving around South Africa with a gun than I do in some parts of Sheffield, leeds and nottingham without one.

CityUnslicker said...

It has been a long week, humour requried:

Really we should arm the police and just shoot rioters:

the cost of guns and training is quite low in return we get:

lower truancy
lower theft and burglary
less benefit payments for the future
lower requirement for prison places
less need for future poliing
lower need for social workers etc in 'communities'

that is an amazing cost benefit by the magic of plucking random figures out the air I would estimate that each ritoer killed would reduce future burdens on the state by about £1.2 million per rioter (£25k per annum for 50 years).

Arm the police, set them free and cure the deficit.

Sean said...

sorry that should of course be "animal kingdom"

Mr Ecks said...

Poor article.

1-US has nearly 3 x our population--of course there will be more accidents.Some are just bad luck, many are the result of carelessness/stupidity.
2-There is gunfire every night in LA and other US cities because the arrogance of the american federal tyranny in trying to dictate what people may put into their own bodies and so creating a vast and violent criminal industry. (As so over here--Duggan wasn't a shoe salesman). If the people in the US could buy what drugs they want at the chemist the gangs would rapidly be out of business. Of course the political scum and their cop goons would also lose a vast amount of power so we won't be seeing the end of the drug wars any time soon.
3- Katrina left the inhabitants of New Orleans reeling. The feds did little to help and in fact had their thugs in there trying to disarm homeowners long before any food/medicine got thro'. The LA Riots, as many on the blogs have pointed out, were a different story and Korean shopkeepers were very successful in defending their homes/businesses with their firearms.
4-Thro'out the 19th century there were NO controls on firearms or drugs in this country. Despite the far worse poverty of the time there were few incidents and no massacres that I am aware of.
5-The real reason for gun control is simple( made worse by a gutless population). A brave and well-armed people that won't take any crap from criminal scum might just decide that they aren't going to take any more crap from political scum either. That is it in a nutshell.
6-I'll say it one more time altho' I'm nearly sick of wasting my breath:In the last 100 years, on the orders of political scum, cops (in the broadest sense-some military, security thugs etc--in short goverment goons) have murdered somewhere between 150-200 million human beings(--not talking about wars--that is a seperate and lesser casualty list). That means that, very probably, the "police" have, in the last 100 years, murdered more people than the criminals.

Never mind Camoron is going to make our streeta safe--curfew anybody?

CityUnslicker said...

mr Ecks, disagree point too, there is a lot more too it than drugs. if you took the drugs away it would be over robbery etc - much like the iRA in Ireland - it is a type of mafia culture that needs to be fixed....lord knows how of course.

James Higham said...

Simple principle - an Englishman's home is his castle and he has the right to bear arms within its walls.

andrew said...

All I can say is that my arms are quite hairy enough already.

Demetrius said...

At the risk of sounding like Corporal Jones (well my time was closer to the Boer War than from the present), they don't like it up them. Quite vigorous physical methods should be enough in most cases. Something like a real shillelagh and training to use it.

Electro-Kevin said...

I have a name for the 'elephant in the room' without breaching any race laws

Rap culture.

We haven't tried curtailing rap culture yet - why consider guns so early ?

Round 'em up. Ship 'em to a barren island to be drilled by ex army vets. Learn 'em to read and become numerate. Work 'em hard digging holes and filling 'em back in. Punish 'em if they transgress, reward them if they don't. No drugs/alcohol allowed, boring but nutritious food - minimum 12 months.

If you want effective home self defence shotguns are already available without too much problem.

The spray pattern is probably better than single shot.

Electro-Kevin said...

A potted history of Rap Culture in Britain:

- War veterans declined to drive buses for a pittance

- the government (rather than raise those wages) imported more working class to keep wages low

- the government (undervaluing* the indiginous working class) did not insist that the newcomers followed our culture

- some of the second generation of incomers looked to New York America for style and role models rather than here

- then they adopted rap music about 30 years ago (a mind poisoning substance)

- in the name of equality the educational and behavioral standards of nearly all working class teenagers were brought down to the Rap Culture denominator

Rap Culture is at the heart of these problems. Mysoginistic. Polygamistic (?). Racialist. Violent. Hate filled. Limiting. Mind numbing. Drug fueled.

When you look at the white looters they are dressed and behave like Rap fans.

Electro-Kevin said...

*Undervaluing:

In Ealing films if ever you was a Cockney chappie playing a soldier in a war film and he chirped something like:

"Awight, Sir. Fancy a brew up ?" you knew he was going to die. He was expendable.

The ruling middle classes still do it with white working class folk:

"I'll get a little man in to fix that boiler." and such like.

They really don't like us having - or going to - grammar schools either.

Bill Quango MP said...

Sean: Could be.just what you're used to. I felt very unsafe driving around Johannesburg with an armed guard.

CU: Are you sure you're not an MP? Mr Cameron would be quaking.

Mr Ecks. Poor article. I'm hurt. I'm aware of the reports of gun owners being told to hand over their weapons to keep them from the looters hands in New Orleans. There are even videos demonstrating how to hide guns from the authorities. USA is almost 5x our populations so figures seem accurate enough for government work. Didn't want to do a whole dissertation. Just some simple ideas.

Chances of being killed by an assailant in your home in the UK is virtually nil. Chance of being mugged is , as you stated, higher than in the USA.

Drugs is a big issue. Some even claim the rioting here is caused by drugs. I've been dragged back from a 'factfinder' in the Caribbean where there have been 23 murders/30,000 pop making the tiny little island the murder capital of the world. That's mostly drug related. But drugs isn't to blame for everything. Nor is arming the police, despite all those law enforcement scandals in the US.

{BTW Many of the most inhumane laws on the statue books , hanging for theft of bread etc, came as a result of the major lawlessness in the UK that was so bad after the Napoleonic wars. UK was so infested with bandits and highwaymen that people traveled in convoy for much of our history.
Anarchy and disorder almost overthrew society as late as 1910, before reemerging in the late 1960'2 and 1970's.

JH: We'll put you down as a yes, then?

Andrew: May I recommend a light torching with a flaming marshmallow.

Demetrius: Agree. Stop this namby pamby bleating from the wets. Let the police have a little more licence.

EK: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/82966,news-comment,news-politics,alexander-cockburn-riots-and-the-underclass-the-view-from-america?DCMP=NLC-daily

Worth a read. Not a long piece. I think he contradicts himself in the middle but it has an interesting phrase from Nixon you might like for your blog.{which I have been reading as usual}

Your Barren Island idea is one that has been tried elsewhere{even here} and found effective.

Blue Eyes said...

What Gadget doesn't mention is that quite often armed police in the US get shot with their own guns.

We don't have a problem big enough that armed police is a solution to it. It's just too dangerous for themselves and for the rest of us.

The already-armed police in the UK are not malicious but they still end up shooting people that they sometimes don't need to.

No, despite the riots I still prefer a generally gun-free country. Just because there are stacks of gangstas in our big cities with guns doesn't mean I want everyone else to have one.

Sean said...

Yup you need to avoid joberg.

A friend of my uncles who lives in WItbank, who is an arms dealer btw, pulled up at the traffic lights in joberg and someone pulled a semiauto out and shot up the car. Which was luckily bullet proof.

roym said...

"the police ..... and unwilling to intervene"

can we get back to this bit? i still havent seen or heard anyone explain why this was so

Bill Quango MP said...

Roym: Sorry, a bit of a Cameron moment.

let me rephrase.

"The police,due to current policing policies, standing orders and procedures for policing riot and disturbance situations, were unable to intervene .."

Better?

BE: And yet our social democratic European neighbours all arm their street police forces. WIth UK cutlture, as people have pointed out, might it not lead to the US situation but the French one?

roym said...

"The police,due to current policing policies, standing orders and procedures for policing riot and disturbance situations, were unable to intervene .."

ah, thanks. i think this needs to be communicated to the public at large. otherwise there are already some silly conspiracies being floated. i.e. the police want more powers etc etc.

perhaps these current rules need remedying before we dish out the tec-9s?

Anonymous said...

Norwegian police carry HK P30's (and some mp5s) in their Patrol cars. They need authorisation to draw them but can make that decision themselves in an emergency.

alan said...

Well the guns laws in the US dont stop the yanks having a big problem with "violent flash mobs". Very large groups, using the internet, meeting up and either rioting or looting shops.

Although the US dont appear to have riots anymore, when ~1000 yank kids trashed a US town it was classed as a "disturbance".

And on a historical note, in the UK we have used live ammo to stop riots before and its always caused more problems than it fixed. Google the "Gordon Riots". 280 people shot dead by the army. Opps.

Roy S. said...

I havent seen anyone suggesting the use of Tasers....any reason the police didnt bring em out to quell the looters? Ive seen em used on the telly documentaries for potential violent arrests. Seems to me this would have been the kind of situation they were made for - or am I missing sumthin?

Anonymous said...

At the end of WW2 this country was awash with guns and other weapons.
Yet there was not a major problem, people still lived mostly in closeknit communities, that weren't going to shoot at each other.

Yet today there are constant stabbings and shootings in London.

Its the same in America, those gun crimes aren't happening in the 'heart land' small towns, they are happening in the multicultural cities.

Just a thought said...

Discovery Science channel recently showed some up-dated police equipment including one that looks like a hooter which emits a sound wave which makes those in its path fall to the ground clutching their ears. The wave is in the spectrum below which human ears can hear it, but it seems the eardrums an certainly "feel" it. Perhaps a few of those gadgets scattered around the vairous police forces might stop these incidents in their tracks without causing actual physical harm to the targets. Much more effective and a sight less dangerous than tazers.


WV: butch !!

John Thomas said...

Roy S, I think there were rather too many rioters involved and fast moving judging by TV pictures, I think Just a thought may have the answer, it would have to be very directional and avoid any policemen in direct line or it would negate its efeectiveness. Maybe what would be even better would be more beat officers on the ground walking (I know a dirty word) knowing the local community and local criminals and possibily learning of any serious unrest and rioting, if they are riding about in cars they see and hear very little and have to rely on informers to tell them.

Edindie said...

Clearly an emotive area. My view is that neither the public or the rank and file police should have guns (tazers / rubber rounds, perhaps). I would imagine that the average decision making skills of the coppers who are supplied with weapons is much higher than the UK population average.

And, like someone has said, if you're really serious about defending yourself there are other equally effective ways. What percentage of people are actually proficient fighters? Less than 5% I'd guess. Jean-Claude Van Damme proved that looking weird and sounding foreign is usually enough to scare the rifraf off.

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon: US onliners were making the point that the population wasn't armed in Norway and hence they are all dead. Whereas in that assassination attempt of the senator the shooter was down in seconds.
Its a good argument, but on pure numbers basis they're more likely to be killed by shooting themselves accidentally at home.

Alan: Yes. Throughout our history, England has only escaped revolution and dictatorship by the narrowest of margins. The Mayor of Philadelphia had very strong words recently about gang looting in London..

http://holycoast.blogspot.com/2011/08/philadelphia-mayor-to-black-looters-you.html

Incidentally, in Oxford street, Manchester and Croydon Whitgift etc mass style shoplifting by 20-50 youths was common, up until the large numbers of CCTV cameras. Still goes on but less so.

Bill Quango MP said...

Roy .S: As JT says. Too many for tasers.

Just a thought: Yes. Dave has said to look into them. + I know the ex-top cop who sells a sort of high powered torch that blinds{temporarily} anyone who looks into it. Sells quite a few.

Anonymous: There was a big increase in gang violence after the war. Then teddy boys and hippies and communists and anarchists and punks etc.
However your point is well made. I saw a memo from Post office that said 150 stores had closed, 6 were damaged in the looting. They have 11,500 branches. So the 'England in flames' is confined to very small section of the wider country as a whole.
Banks had a similar memo. RBS had some 9 branches damaged out of 4,500.

Edindie: I broadly agree. The Derek Bird incident is used to explain why police should be armed.
Being armed in the riots? Would it have made the looters pause if police had drawn weapons?

Bill Quango MP said...

And just heard Kevin McGuire, in attempting to discredit Bob wassissname ex of the NYPD say "In New York there are more police than in London...And yet their murder rate is much, much higher."

Yes Kevin..it is ..see above for a possible reason why.. you numpty!

Laban said...

Visiting an English friend, married to a Septic, in California. His'n'hers revolvers in the bedside drawer (what happens if they argue?), a pump-action pistol-grip shotgun (a fearsome beast) and a carbine (M1?).

She worked as a nurse in public San Francisco hospital, and regaled my wife with tales of gang victims delivered to hospital ("over 100 knife wounds ... we had to replace all his blood .. twice").

One thing I remembered was that in East Palo Alto (completely different from its hi-tech neighbour Palo Alto) the cops would not come into an ongoing gun battle, but would wait at a distance until firing subsided.

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem in a nutshell:-
“...The UK should allow its citizens to arm themselves and allow them the same rights as US citizens have. “
You see, the US citizens aren’t allowed anything,
they have rights,
that’s RIGHTS, as in rights.
Any government which “allows” something,
can also disallow it.
There are no such things as “rights” in the UK.
Only “allows”.
Which shouldn’t be allowed.