Joyce Lee Malcolm: Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control


Joyce Lee Malcolm: Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control
December 27, 2012

We aren’t alone in facing this problem. Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.

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. In 2009 a former soldier, Paul Clarke, found a bag in his garden containing a shotgun. He brought it to the police station and was immediately handcuffed and charged with possession of the gun. …

What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don’t provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.

Besides rebutting the claim that strict gun control has worked in the UK and Australia, there’s another important thing that can be seen here. When gun rights people point out how badly strict gun control laws have worked in places like NYC, Chicago and DC, one of the first refuges of gun control advocates is to point out that guns can easily be brought in from nearby areas. We-ellllll, Britain is an island, and Australia is a continent surrounded by oceans and seas. Bringing guns in from other areas is much more difficult, but their strict gun control laws still haven’t created crime-free paradises!