Log in

Anthony "Tony" Arndt [userpic]

Gun control?

January 20th, 2009 (07:35 pm)

"Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” - Gandhi

Minnesota averages seven guns per household and that's just counting legal firearms. That's pretty heavily armed, even by US standards. I've also spent most of my adult life working in law enforcement and safety related fields. So I tend to pay attention to crime and weapon control.

For the record, I support no form of weapon control. Period. In the history of the world there are have been two basic classes of people, freemen and slaves. The distinction was the right to own weapons and defend yourself. Knives, swords, guns, etc. are details a free people have the right to own all of them, without restriction, for the purpose of their own defense.

I happened across an interesting article here.

It discusses the phenomena that I've noticed while traveling. Weapon ownership is fairly consistent across all Western countries. The variation is that the more tightly weapon ownership is regulated the greater the number of them are owned "illegally". The result is an increase in weapon related violence. As the weapons trade slips deeper into the black market the tendency seems to be toward more powerful military grade weapons used in crime.

This should surprise no one who has studied any period of Western history. Prohibition leads to bootlegging, black market trading, and increased criminality. A common saying is that "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns". This is only technically true. History (and current ownership trends) indicate that weapon restrictions don't decrease weapon ownership, they only increase the number of "illegally" owned weapons. The real effect seems to be that it makes it criminal to defend your neighbor (and in some extremes, even yourself).

Living in Minnesota, I know from experience that gun violence is a symptom of cultural problems not the problem itself. Most families have a large collection of guns in a range of calibers and configurations. Rifles, shotguns, handguns, automatic, high-capacity, single-fire, antique, and military. We also have concealed-carry. And a significant rate of seasonal depression.

If gun-control propaganda truly reflected reality, my home state would be a blood-bath.

Also, it illustrates that there's nothing innately "Democratic" in gun-control. Minnesota has voted Democrat in every Presidential election in my lifetime and the Green Party often outperforms the Republican Party. And yet, although I know they exist on the "lunatic fringe", I have never personally met a pro-gun-control member of any party in Minnesota.


(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Anthony "Tony" Arndt (anthony_arndt)
Posted at: January 21st, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)

I'll take your word on the BS Assault Weapon Ban. I was in Milwaukee that year and not really following Minnesota Politics. You were living in Cedar-Riverside at that point if I remember right. I remember that and DOMA being the two bills that stood out in the 90s as being a litmus test for idiots.

Like with the CCW permits. All the opponents were arguing based on what they thought the current law was and what they thought the proposed law was. In nearly all cases, neither was correct.

Admittedly, there are fringe-elements, mostly from the more sheltered metro areas, but they still can't seem to get any serious traction. My point wasn't that they're the best proponents of gun-owners' rights, rather that in an area traditionally controlled by the Democratic party, you can legally own just about anything as long as you do the homework to know what paperwork must be filed and/or which loopholes need to be exploited.

And while I'm no fan of paperwork and loopholes, they're preferable to outright prohibition.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Gareth (jhirat_dai)
Posted at: January 21st, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)

I won't try and argue that gun crime in the UK has decreased as a result of increased gun control, because it hasn't (oe doesn't seem to have , anyway). I will argue, though, that the relatively strict gun control laws here have historically meant that very few people come down with fatal cases of high velocity lead poisoning in any given year. It seems to be right for the UK.

The government has, of recent years, been a bit controlly, mind. I can understand the point of view of marksmanship enthusiasts who suddenly find their freedoms curtailed because of the actions of a bunch of criminals, and I can equally understand the point of view of people like me, who have now been criminalised for carrying a penknife around due to a knee-jerk overrreaction in policy. I would like to see our laws directed at gun/knife crime and not necessarily gun/knife ownership, which seems to have been Whiehal's only response to the recent increase in violent crime.

However, no-one will ever get me to agree that gun ownership in the UK should not involve some level of registration. I don't want to live in a society where anyone can just buy a gun without first satisfying some form of duly constituted or elected authority that they're a responsible person who knows how to use one safely.


Posted by: Gareth (jhirat_dai)
Posted at: January 21st, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)

Please do excuse the horrific level of spelling above - small keyboard + cold room = bad typing.


(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Gareth (jhirat_dai)
Posted at: January 21st, 2009 10:32 pm (UTC)

That's exactly what we used to have in the UK - a firearms license. I seem to remember there was one for handguns/rifles and a different one for shotguns, but I could be wrong. I think you could have as many guns of your licensed type as you wanted, but you had to tell the local police when you bought or sold one. Again, could be wrong, though, and it's too late to embark on a search now.


(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Gareth (jhirat_dai)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC)

If I have any leisure at any point soon, I'll have to look into your assertion that London crime > NY crime. Not to impugn your honesty, memory or debating skills, but that sounds wrong to me (although I'd never call London 'safe' in any way, shape or form). I suspect that the definitions of contact crimes might differ between National Statistics in the UK and the equivalent US body, or something similar, because it really does sound like a strange reversal of the cosmic order, although if drunken brawling is being included in the figures then that's the only explanation needed, as we're the current world leaders in binge-drinking.

There's been a great deal of hue and cry in the media here recently (since the Tony Martin case, mostly). It's largely in right-wing tabloids and the story always runs that criminal's/immigrant's/current target of choice's rights are being set above that of quote-unquote normal people, you'll end up in the cell next to the man who attacked you if you defend yourself, etc etc. I'm sceptical, at least at present - it's another of those things I keep meaning to look into.


Posted by: Marion (weofodthignen)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)

Yes, until I saw your comment I was going to raise a finger to suggest to Anthony that the UK rather mucked up the statistics he's citing. I think you're right, different ways of classifying things make it hard to make comparisons; but I remain convinced that the UK used to be much safer than the US in part because there wasn't a gun culture except as part of the rituals of clay pigeon shooting and foxhunting and so forth.

Of course another factor that gun nuts in the US like to deny is the urban/rural split. London is far bigger, more densely populated, and more riven by disagreements between groups than most Americans can conceive of, because far more Americans live in distant suburbs or small towns. Americans in crowded urban places like the entire state of New Jersey overwhelmingly want the number of guns minimized, just as as a former Londoner I regard the arming of the police in the UK--and the situation that made that seem necessary--as horrible.

I think it should be up to the locals, as most things are in the US, but unfortunately in this case the proponents of one solution for all have the Constitution on their side, although the militia bit still seems inapplicable to me.


Posted by: Marion (weofodthignen)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)

PS: Banning knives is utterly ridiculous and does more harm than good, but British law always did have the "causing a disturbance" thing getting in the way of self-defence.

Posted by: alfredtmahan (alfredtmahan)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)

Not to be a *total* jerk, Tony (I excel at that, I know), but Gandhi was obviously ignoring the all-volunteer Indian Army, which was quite large, and when pensioned off after service, generally brought their service rifles back to their villages...in case the Raj recalled them to service.

Moreover, during the Second Round Of Global Unpleasantness, said Indian Army became the single largest all-volunteer military *ever*, so the British obviously didn't have a major issue handing out firearms to Indians; Gandhi's beef was probably that the Brits were "selective" in which Indians got the guns. If you were from one of the "non-martial races" prior to WWII, you were outta luck 99.9% of the time.

Incidentally, that's a direct result of the 1857 Mutiny.

Posted by: alfredtmahan (alfredtmahan)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)

"Gandhi's beef". Whoops. No pun intended.

Posted by: jj (leeani12)
Posted at: January 23rd, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)

Interesting article, thanks for posting that. I once had a small discussion with a friend from the UK, he's moderate but he seemed to think we have a huge gun culture here in the US. After your experience in Europe, do you think that is based on the idea we obsess more about guns, have organizations like the NRA, etc? Or do you think he just didn't pay enough attention to the ownership rate in his own country?
On a side note, I heard a few years back that the Minnesotans who applied for a CCW had not been involved in any gun crimes. This was back in maybe 2005 or 06, so of course figures may have changed. I've always believed that we have the own responsibility defend ourselves and our loved ones, police are minutes away when seconds count, and an armed population makes a polite population.

10 Read Comments