02 July 2008


I missed this...
press release from last year from the GUN CONTROL NETWORK - it is so good,, cannot resist printing it in full here.

4 October 2007

BEFORE AND DURING the Conservative Party conference the two Davids - Cameron and Davis - have repeatedly referred to gun crime as being 'out of control'.

This works as a headline-grabbing statement but it is not true.

These are the facts (figures quoted are for England and Wales):
Gun murders remain very low by international standards, with fluctuations between 49 and 97 annually in the last ten years. The most recent provisional figure (for 2006/07) is 58. This compares with 11,624 gun homicides in the USA (in 2004), a rate which is nearly 40 times higher. In France the rate is more than twice that in Britain, in Switzerland over three-fold higher, while in Italy it is over 5 times greater (Source: Global Gun Deaths (Toronto Small Arms/Firearms Education and Research Network, 2005)).
The rise in recorded levels of gun crime over the last ten years has been largely due to imitation weapons (3300 more offences per year out of an increase of 9100 offences) and airguns (2500 more offences per year). These figures probably underestimate the number of imitation guns involved.
25% of all serious gun injuries are committed with airguns which are still not registered in any way.
According to the latest Home Office statistics in the last year gun crime involving every category of gun has fallen e.g. handgun crime is down by 11%. Handgun offences peaked in 2001/02 and have fallen by 30% since then.

It is clear that the Conservatives are whipping up public fear about gun crime for their own narrow political interests. The public interest is not served by these wild and unfounded statements. They are fuelling the 'fear factor' and making the general public more fearful of gun crime than they should be.

Gun crime is a problem, particularly in major cities, and it is true that we need to control guns ever more tightly.

But gun crime is NOT out of control and it is irresponsible of David Cameron and David Davis to suggest it is".

Typical of the Tories - this is the sort of government we are heading for.


  1. It's not as if Nulab have ever resorted to whipping up a climate of fear is it?

  2. MW: completely agree and that is wrong as well. It also doesn't win any votes either. The Daily Mail & Sun right-wingers it appeals to will always vote Tory, but it alienates Labour's core voters of lefties, liberals and ethnics. It is a sure vote loser all round, so why do they do it? Beats me!

  3. It is clear that the Conservatives are whipping up public fear about gun crime for their own narrow political interests

    That's rich, considering that is precisely what the 'Gun Control Network' does when it is angling for additional restrictions on licensed firearms. The GCN is a joke, even to the other more moderate gun control groups, which do acknowledge that there are legitimate sporting uses for firearms and save their hostility for illegal users of firearms rather than legal users.

  4. I wonder if this whole thing doesn't go a lot wider than just gun crime, or just gun and knife crime. Doesn't it largely come back, like so many things in modern society, to the power of the gutter press? They whip up hysteria about crime in general, giving a completely misleading impression of its extent and making people much more afraid than they rationally need to be. Politicians of all parties then feel under pressure to respond to this. Few commentators (Polly Toynbee being, as so often, an honourable exception) will dare to stand up and point out that people are being frightened unnecessarily.

    And before anyone suggests I inhabit an ivory tower or a rural retreat, perhaps I should say that I live in the urban jungle of inner south London (as indeed does Polly Toynbee, as it happens).

  5. Stephen: Guns are so dangerous, the distinction between illegal and legal is almost irrelevant. Anyone can have a mental breakdown, feel angry, get drunk, be careless with their weapons, lose them, have them stolen, sell them or lend them to someone else. In the US millions of weapons go missing in exactly this fashion - which is why so many children get hold of weapons. Which is why in this country we don't even routinely arm our police force. One of he biggest source of weapons in this country comes from soldiers and ex-soldiers misappropriating weapons. What the Gunn Network do is point out the real figures, of course those who want handguns legal are not going to like that!

  6. Stephen: Guns are so dangerous, the distinction between illegal and legal is almost irrelevant

    It is interesting that you say that. That prejudicial attitude does explain your persistent inability to join me in rational debate about firearms laws. But let's just think through the practical consequences were your prejudices ever enacted into law. How is the farmer to shoot rabbits on his land if you would deny him a shotgun, 22 rifle or airgun? How is the vet to humanely destroy large farmyard animals if you take away his legally licensed handgun? How are deer to be culled if you would deny the game keeper his sporting rifle?

    Anyone can have a mental breakdown, feel angry, get drunk, be careless with their weapons, lose them, have them stolen, sell them or lend them to someone else

    That's along the lines of 'all men are potential rapists'. Yes, anyone can be a rapist, murderer or a child molestor, or a fraudster or a drunk, or have a breakdown. But few people are, even if they 'can' be. And very few people have 'breakdowns' that make them a risk to other people. You could just as well say that motorcars are 'too dangerous' for anyone to own because you could have a breakdown and decide to run your car into a bus queue and kill a dozen people in one go. And before you say, but 'guns are designed to kill', yes and that's why we have more extensive vetting for the ownership of firearms than the ownership of cars. But trying legislate for extraordinary and extreme situations is pointless and leads to bad law, such as the present 'extreme pornography' ban going through Parlianment.

    In the US millions of weapons go missing in exactly this fashion

    And this is debate is about the UK not the US, where guns do not go missing in that fashion.

    One of he biggest source of weapons in this country comes from soldiers and ex-soldiers misappropriating weapons

    Do stop bullshitting Neil. I can spot it a mile off. Squaddies selling guns is certainly a source but the biggest source at present is sumuggled arms from eastern Europe.

    What the Gunn Network do is point out the real figures, of course those who want handguns legal are not going to like that!

    But they have no understanding of statistics, as neither do you, Neil. Raw gun death figures tell us very little about the effectiveness of various regimes of gun control measures. You need to understand the breakdown of those figures to make any meaningful inferences from them. I have a first class honours degree in Mathematics from Oxford. You don't. My opinions about how interpret statistics are worth more than yours or the GCN's.

  7. I was with you all the way, Stephen, until you pulled rank with your Oxford degree. Are we supposed to fawn over your opinions, because of it?

  8. stephen: You might want to read this about gun smuggling by ex-soldiers.

    Lets hear how the GCN use stats incorrectly then? Even people with Oxford first class degrees can be prejudiced you know? In some cases it seems obligatory!

  9. Hi Neil, this is Katrina Anon…

    I started reading the home office report on gun crime. What is clear from the facts as compiled by the UK Home Office, (from where the GCN extracted its data) is that gun crimes have doubled since 1998. What is also clear is that the UK population did not double during that period which means the per capita rate has also increased in kind.

    Based on that data this means while the per capita gun crime rate has not double, it has increased dramatically.

    What is also clear from the report is that the availability of illegal weapons is getting easier. In fact, on UK streets illegal firearms can be rented with a full clip of ammo for as little as £50. Firearms are being manufactured as well as ammunition in clandestine factories.

    The other interesting data from the report shows that air gun crime is in the neighborhood of 5-10% higher than gun crime. But while that may encourage reigning in air guns, realize just how large a number gun crimes are and those guns are banned outright. Since air guns are your less lethal street weapon, banning them may drive criminals straight to firearms.

    So far as many gun proponents have noted the only people being prevented from having firearms are the non-violent public. Criminals are doing just fine and are even able to purchase machine guns with little trouble. In fact some of them are cheaper than you can buy them in America even if you paid in Euros!

    Also parts of this study parallel what John Lott found in his study on gun control (More Guns = Less Death). That is to say the drug culture fuels a large portion of this. Reading between the lines of the report, I surmise that a lot of these crimes, though not all, are thug on thug crime and turf wars, just as they here. Whether the UK can control this blight and violence it spawns is unclear.

    Of particular interest, and to be fair I have not read all 176 pages, the authors, unlike Lott, in their efforts to reduce crime never considered private gun ownership as a means of limiting violence. Their approach was to try to remove the attractiveness of guns in society. While a laudable goal, it is not one that would produce any tangible results in less than a decade or more just by looking at the crop of video games that are available. A whole industries (gaming, Hollywood, etc.) would have to be changed before you would have an impact.

    You can read the report Gun Crime:the market in and use of illegal firearms as prepared by the UK home Office in 2004/5. Its only a 176 spell binding pages.

    There are several other indications of gun control failure in the UK and these failures are starting to make news. First the number of times the armed police have been deployed has increased dramatically. That is a very clear indication that violent and gun crime are spiking upwards. Second, the Metro Police are questioning their own statistics showing an increase in gun crime. If the police want to rewrite the way the statistics are compiled, then they need to apply those changes to all the records, not just the years when it is too high. Third it seems UK citizens are arming themselves with whatever they can defend themselves with. What is sad is that the police are warning citizens that they better be justified if they take a swing at thug in their flat.

    Also contained in several reports were the changing attitudes towards guns in UK culture and the problems with gangs. Some observers have put forward that severe enforcement might encourage some gun crime. The thought process was that if the crook was looking at a very long prison term when caught with a firearm, the crook would have little to lose by shooting it out. This attitude towards gun crime has continued into 2008.

    Certainly the stats that GCN uses predate the story here Ministers covered up gun crime UK Times Online. While a good read, except for the center of the story, the most interesting part was an extract of a letter, which I post below:

    Extract from letter by David Davis, shadow home secretary, to Jacqui Smith, home secretary, August 24, 2007
    Dear Jacqui, We are all concerned at the rising tide of violent crime that has manifested itself this week in a spate of shocking killings, including the tragic death of young Rhys Jones. You told GMTV this morning that “statistics aren’t a help but gun crime is down”. That is an extraordinary claim.
    According to Home Office figures, gun crime (excluding air weapons) has almost doubled since Labour took office. The annual crime figures, released by the Home Office in July, suggest a 13% decrease on the previous year, which neglects the 18% increase in firearm homicides.
    However, perhaps most telling is the massive increase in gun violence, disclosed on 25 January of this year (Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005-06, Home Office). Buried at page 36 . . . we find [that] . . . gun-related killings and injuries (excluding airguns) have increased by over fourfold since 1998.
    In light of this information, your claim that gun crime is down is both inaccurate and misleading. One clear fact on gun-related violence is that if you don’t count it, you won’t be able to tackle it. Your predecessors opted for spin over substance. I hope that is a path you will avoid and would be grateful for an explanation of what action you plan.
    Yours sincerely, David Davis

    I do want to make a few things clear about my views about gun control and one other thing.

    Stephen, I am a guy. The moniker Katrina Anon was kind of accidentally selected since I live near New Orleans and lived through hurricane Katrina. I was far enough inland that winds were the biggest threat to me. I certainly do not want anyone to think I ever had to tread water in St. Bernard (my brother in law did). My wife says I am sensitive if that helps any…

    Like free speech there needs to some control on firearms, but not many. Crooks, mentally ill, and children should not be allowed to own firearms. You should not be allowed to own RPGs, or machine guns without special licenses like we have here in the US. Firearms in general should not have to be registered. I support CCW and open carry under CCW rules as a proven crime deterrent.

    Finally, unlike Europe, a citizen should have a right to armed self-defense. I am surprised that European citizens are denied that right in their Constitution. Self-defense should be a basic human right.

  10. Hi Stephen, this is Katrina Anon...

    I have question about some the stats the UK government is keeping.

    It seems to me that in conflicting studies gun crime is going up while violent crime is going down.

    In my business when we measure the types of safety events we experience, we expect a larger number of the less severe incidents per severe incident. But in the case of these conflicting government studies, it seems like you are having less violent crimes per gun crime (more proportion gun crimes to violent crimes).

    That seems counter intuitive to me if with all things being equal. If gun crimes are up, then violent most assuredly has to be up. If armed police are being more frequently deployed, then violent crime has to be up and gun crime might be up too (though it does not have to be).

    Certainly not all gun crime has to be violent (shooting signs, street lights, etc). Still I would expect the majority of gun crimes to involve violence.

  11. Katrina anon,

    unfortunately, the vast majority in England have been so bludgeoned by propaganda on the issue of gun control, they just cannot compute the arguments an American would use to support the 2nd amendment or defend the right to self defence.

    Most people here have never even touched a gun, and believe that if they did, they would immediately be seized by uncontrollable homicidal urges. They also ignore that there are still a great many legally held guns in this country which are hardly ever used in crimes.

    That said, you've got your own work cut out. Defending the 2nd Amendment is a full-time job. I've seen footage of totally illegal gun confiscations happening during Katrina, and heard of similar stuff during the recent/on-going floods. So, if I were you, I'd stock up now!

  12. Hi Trooper, this is Katrina Anon…

    I know that Europe denying the human right of self-defence is foreign to Americans. Believe me, I was very surprised to find that basic of the most basic human rights is not enumerated under European and United Nations charters. As you, and I am guessing, Neil knows that under European charters you have a right to life and security but both of those are enforced at the whim of the state. There is no obligation on the part of the state to protect you.

    Oddly enough the state does reserve the right to self-defence from threats within or outside its borders. The words “self-defence” are never used as a citizen’s right.

    Its not too surprising to me that Americans do not know that Euro-citizens lack that right. What does surprise me is that the Euro-citizen does not know that. Further, the champions of individual freedoms have not marched in the streets for this human right and that the Neils, that I am sure would like to included in that number, are comfortable with denying a basic human right.

    On gun confiscation after a natural disaster, there are new laws on the books. The recent floods in the river regions of the US pale in comparison to Katrina. There was more time for evacuations and newer laws are on the books enjoining government agencies from doing what they did during Katrina. I would hope that if any confiscations occurred during the recent floods, they were isolated and that law agencies remember excesses are not tolerated under these new laws.

    If you have not seen the story on YouTube check out The Untold Story of Gun Confiscation after Katrina by the NRA. The lessons Europeans should take away from this video, is if you have a Katrina sized event and your security forces are swamped, you are on your own against criminals.

    All that happened on the 2nd Amendment in the SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States) decision was to lay a cornerstone. The battles are just beginning and I will bet either side is not going to rush back to SCOTUS anytime soon.

  13. Katrina anon,

    what you say about self-defence and the European Law, is broadly correct. I would say of England, you do have a right to self-defence, provided you use 'reasonable force'. However, in many ways you are prevented from exercising this right. Basically, if a mad axeman breaks in the house, I am allowed to shoot him in self-defence. So, I reach for my pistol - and remember that I don't actually own one, as they're illegal.

  14. I was with you all the way, Stephen, until you pulled rank with your Oxford degree. Are we supposed to fawn over your opinions, because of it?

    Trooper - not over my opinions about firearms control, no. Over my opinions about statistics, certainly yes. I do not subscribe to the anti-intellectual view that all opinions are equally valid. My opinions about statistical inference are more valid than those who don't have a clue about mathematics. Would you want to be operated on my a trained surgeon or decry the surgeon 'pulling rank' because he has spent years training to be one?

  15. Lets hear how the GCN use stats incorrectly then? Even people with Oxford first class degrees can be prejudiced you know? In some cases it seems obligatory!

    I have written about this quite extensively on other threads on your blog, where I have examined your use of statistics on gun deaths in detail. If I have the time I may repost it, but there's little incentive to do so when you never come back on the points I make.