Britain's Decline

The evidence from other nations is consistent with the Swiss-Japanese experience. At the turn of the century, Great Britain had no gun controls at all. Convicted violent felons, the criminally insane, and anyone else could buy and carry anything from a derringer to a sawed-off shotgun to a Gatling gun, with no registration and no licensing. The only requirement was ready cash. And yet Great Britain had almost no gun crime, as the constraints imposed by the Victorian code of behaviour provided the most effective "gun control" system the nation ever experienced.

As the 20th century has progressed, laws in Britain have grown increasingly severe, so that only about 4% of households today legally own guns, and those households are subject to arbitrary "inspections" by a police force with the announced goal of eliminating civilian gun ownership. And while Britain remains generally safer than the United States, violent crime and gun crime have skyrocketed compared to earlier decades. While Britain, in the name of public safety, has abolished or drastically constricted many rights that Americans take for granted--including the right to bear arms, the right to a criminal jury trial, the right to grand jury indictment, the right of a criminal defendant to confront his accuser, and (by the most recent government proposal) the right to silence--the concentration of ever-greater power in the hands of the government has proven a poor antidote for the steady decline in the socialisation of children into responsible behaviour by the community.

Britain today

Gun law stalks Britain's streets Gun controls answer to failed gun bans

Although American gun prohibition advocates appear to endorse every foreign gun control law they encounter, there was only one gun law (in the countries studied in The Samurai) whose enactment led to any statistically noticeable drop in gun crime. (In contrast, many of the foreign gun laws were associated with significant reductions in the gun suicide rate, although the evidence also suggests that the substitution of other methods of suicide wiped out any statistically perceptible net saving of lives.) 1

The publication in 1972 of Firearms Control, by Chief Inspector (later Superintendent) Colin Greenwood, of the West Yorkshire Constabulary, was a landmark in the study of the law relating to firearms and its effects in England and Wales. Based on his research at Cambridge University, Superintendent Greenwood, who is now editor of Guns Review, demonstrated for the first time how the right of the individual to own firearms was firmly embedded in British law, and that the level of armed crime was far lower before the restrictions imposed by the Firearms Act 1920 and subsequent legislation than it was afterwards. 2


1 Written Testimony of David B. Kopel,
Select Committee Investigating the Use of Automatic and Semiautomatic Firearms, September 8, 1994, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2 Guns & Violence
Richard Munday and Jan A. Stevenson (editors)
Piedmont Publishing, Seychelles House, Brightlingsea, Essex CO7 0NN, 1996, 367pp,

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