The UK is one of those countries where the cry “something must be done!” is not just political pandering. When something happens, something happens. Something that almost always involves an expansion of an already expansive central government, at the expense of that little thing called personal freedom. The Land of Hope and Glory is already The Land of a Million Surveillance Cameras. The most surveilled nation on planet Earth, in fact. All in the name of controlling violent crime. That didn’t work: the UK is at the top of the Euro charts for violent crime. And now there’s this . . . this . . . transgression. As we predicted, within minutes of the news of the Lake District spree killing, politicians and the punditocracy were clamoring for even tougher gun control laws. But what can they do? Seriously. The UK gun laws are tougher than Mike Tyson in his heyday. Writing for the Times, Gill Marshall-Andrews, Chairman of the Gun Control Network (“Working Towards a Gun-Free Environement”), has an answer. The answer? An answer. And not necessarily the right one . . .
Issuing and renewing certificates has become very slack. Police are not looking at someone and asking “Why should I grant a certificate?” but seem to operate on the basis of “Why shouldn’t I give the certificate?”.
We need to look at the behaviour of applicants. There should be much closer involvement of the medical profession before a certificate is issued. There should be more attention paid to their mental health and home circumstances to see if there has been any domestic violence. Their spouses or ex-partners should be consulted.
In other words, make it even tougher for someone to get a gun. And remember: licenses are up for renewal every year. What’s the bet that there’s a long gun owner cull (so to speak)?
Miracle of miracles, the Times found someone who reckons UK gun laws should be, gulp, liberalized! Just kidding. Finding a public figure in the UK who will speak out in favor of citizens arming themselves in self-defense is like finding hen’s teeth. Only harder. So the Times trots out one Simon Clarke of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, an organization defedning its right to shot animals, rather than criminals or, indeed, spree killers.
The current system, although not perfect, works well. The wider laws about gun control have never been properly thought through and are complicated.
The legislation has built up piecemeal in reaction to events since 1920 when they were worried about soldiers who had returned from the war. The handgun ban has not prevented them being criminals’ weapon of choice. Bringing in more laws is not the answer. We need a balance that allows private ownership and ensures public safety.