When will the penny drop?

Those of you who remember some of the heated arguments that were had with Brendano and others over gun control have probably forgotten the book I had mentioned, on which I had based some of my arguments. It was hidden amongst hundreds of unsorted books I had brought down from the North.

It came to light the other day and I was reminded of those days a few years back. That’s it up there,* and hopefully will remain, provided of course it doesn’t offend Duckham.

Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm in her book took on the thankless task of talking sense on a subject where nonsense is deeply entrenched and fiercely dogmatic. Professor Malcolm examines the history of firearms, gun control laws and violent crime in England.

Gun control zealots love to make highly selective international comparisons of gun control and murder rates, but Professor Malcolm points out some of the pitfalls in that approach. For example the murder rate in New York City has been more than five times that of London for more than two hundred years, and during that time neither city had any gun conrtol laws at all.

In 1911, New York State instituted one of the most severe gun control laws in the United States while serious gun control laws did not begin in England until nearly ten years later. Yet NYC continued to have far higher murder by firearm rates than London.

To address this subject properly, it is necessary to do what Joyce Lee Malcolm has done — examine the history of guns and violence. Here in England, she points out that over the centuries ‘violent crime continued to decline markedly at the very time guns were becoming increasingly available.’

Our Bill of Rights in 1688 was quite unambiguous that the right of a private individual to be armed was an individual right, independent of any collective right of militias. Guns were as freely available to Englishmen as to Americans up to the early 20th century. Nor, I stress, was gun legislation in response to any firearms murder crisis.

‘Over a period of three years near the end of the 19th century, “there were only 59 fatalities from handguns in a population of nearly 30 million people.” according to Professor Malcolm. “Of these, 19 were accidents, 35 were suicides and only 3 were homicides — an average of one a year.”

The rise of the interventionist state in England in the early 20th century included restrictions on ownership of guns. After the First World War, gun control laws began restricting possession. Then, after the Second World War, these laws became more severe, eventually, in 1997, completely disarming our civilian population — or at least the law-abiding part of it.

Curiously (or not) it was during this period of severe restrictionson on owning firearms that crime rates in general, and the murder rate in particular, began to rise in England. “As the number of legal firearms has dwindled, the numbers of armed crimes have risen,” Professor Malcolm points out.

In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s there were more than a hundred times as many. In England, as in America, drastic crackdowns on gun ownership by law-abiding citizens were accompanied by ever increasing leniency to criminals. In both countries that has proved to be a formula for disaster.

While we have not yet reached the US level of murders, we have long ago surpassed the United States in rates of robbery and burglary. Moreover, the murder rate in England has been increasing under still more severe control laws, while the murder rate in the United States has been going down as more states have permitted private citizens to carry concealed weapons — and they have begun locking up more criminals.

But in both America and here in England, facts have no effect whatsoever on the dogmas of gun control zealots. The fact that most (all hand guns since 1997) were not purchased legally has had no effect whatsoever on their faith in our gun control laws.

Both here and in America, sensational gun crimes have been seized upon and used politically to promote crackdowns on gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, while doing nothing about criminals.

Will the penny ever drop?


* ISBN-10: 0674016084 Joyce Lee Malcolm, Professor of Law B.A., Barnard College; M.A., Brandeis University; Ph.D., Brandeis University
Expertise: British Constitutional and Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Right to Self Defense, Second Amendment

And with h/t to ‘Ever Wonder Why? and Other Controversial Essays’ (Hoover Institution Press Publication) by Thomas Sowell, (born June 30, 1930) American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author.



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