By Bill Connor, National Defense Consultants, LLC
“The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled, according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is” – Joyce Lee Malcolm, law professor and author of “Guns and Violence, the English Experience” writing of the effects gun control laws imposed in the UK in 1996.
Taking advantage of recent shooting tragedy, Eugene Robinson and “elites” in the media and Hollywood are attempting to shred the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Arguments made for radical gun control measures are those we have heard for years with no regard for our rights memorialized in the Constitution: “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Interestingly, despite America fighting a bloody revolution against the United Kingdom to secure the right to bear arms, Robinson, in his Jan. 3 article “An urgent resolution for 2013,” holds up the United Kingdom as the shining example for us to follow. Constitutional protections aren’t legally subject to being changed by emotive statistics and I could spend the entire article explaining why the UK example just doesn’t matter.
However, the left knows this and has made very clear that the killing of 60-70 million babies by abortion is a constitutionally protected right to “choose” (despite the lack of reference to abortion in the Constitution). They know constitutional protections are above the discussion of millions of dead babies and deep down they know that the constitutional right to bear arms is similarly protected. Regardless, after having spent five years living in Europe and knowing the truth about the issue, I’m going to prove Robinson is not only wrong from a constitutional perspective, he’s just doesn’t have his facts straight about the effects of gun control.
First, I must give Robinson some credit. He gave a truthful summary of the conditions of the UK gun control laws. Virtually all handguns are banned. Hunters are extremely limited. Self-defense can never be used as a justification to obtain a gun. In a recent case, a returning UK Afghan War veteran was arrested and faced 18 months in prison because his friends gave him an old “trophy” pistol obtained in Helmand from the aftermath of a battle. Anywhere within the city of London, citizens cannot carry any defensive weapon. In 2004, a diminutive woman fought off a rape by using a crochett needle and was arrested for weapons violations. The law-abiding UK population is defenseless and knows it.
Read what Malcolm wrote about the knee-jerk reason for radical UK gun control laws and a massive increase in crime since passing those laws.
“In March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a man known to be mentally unstable, walked into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane and shot 16 young children and their teacher. He wounded 10 other children and three other teachers before taking his own life. … the British government banned semiautomatic rifles and brought shotguns — the last type of firearm that could be purchased with a simple show of fitness — under controls similar to those in place for pistols and rifles. Magazines were limited to two shells with a third in the chamber. …Hamilton had a firearm certificate, although according to the rules he should not have been granted one. A media frenzy … resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison.
“The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself. Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who have come into the possession of a firearm, even accidentally, have been harshly treated.”
At about the same time as the Hamilton massacre, Australia endured a similar event and enacted similar gun-control legislation. The results: Australia saw a 40 percent increase in violent assault, including a 20 percent increase in sexual assault. The law-abiding citizens are now at the mercy of street thugs in the UK and Australia.
Closer to home, Washington D.C., has some of the strictest gun-control measures in the nation. However, the violent crime and murder rates in Washington are top in the nation (one study has shown the probability of being murdered in Washington was 25 percent higher than being killed in Iraq during a similar 22-month period during the occupation of Iraq). Of course, this is Mr. Robinson’s current hometown, so he is aware. As we know, those evil individuals attempting massacres have learned exactly where to strike: At places nobody will be armed to fight back. Schools being the ultimate gun-free zones, but also theaters (like that of the “Joker” killings), or malls (like that of the massacre in Denver).
Robinson is correct, the number of shootings in the UK is less than in the United States. However, I can recall spending much of the summer of 2004 in London feeling completely defenseless and, like most in London, stayed away from many parts of the city. That’s not what a free people should feel.
I can also recall my years living in Belgium, where rights were severely curtailed compared to America. Armed para-military police could demand to see national ID cards at any time while pointing their submachine guns. Beyond limited rights to hunt, nobody in Europe has a weapon to defend himself. Living there, we were completely at the mercy of the government for all forms of protection.
Again, this is not what America is all about and not why we fought for freedom from the United Kingdom more than 235 years ago. I yearned for being back to the freedom of the USA after time in Europe.
The recent shooting in Connecticut was a tragedy all Americans lament. However, knee-jerk reactions that have proven to be failures in countries such as the UK and Australia and cities like Washington are not the answer. Additionally, as Benjamin Franklin wisely warned us: “Those willing to trade freedom for security deserve neither.” We will not trade our right to defend ourselves for the illusion of security.
Attorney Bill Connor was the senior U.S. adviser to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he received the Bronze Star. Connor is the author of the book “Articles From War.”