Inside the indulgent but lonely childhood of the Hungerford massacre gunman before his mass bloodbath is meant to explain why Michael Ryan shot and killed 16 people on August 1987. Mr. Ryan’s  father was distant and his mother smothered him. He was bullied. He was schizophrenic and psychotic. Done. For our purposes . . .

The Hungerford Massacre marked a turning point in British gun control. Responding to the slaughter, The Land of Hope and Glory enacted the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, banning private possession of semi-automatic rifles, restricting shotgun capacity to three shells and giving the Home Secretary the power to prohibit any firearm he or she deemed “specially dangerous.”

Looking back, reading the Mirror’s account of the events on that deadly day, a single phrase comes to mind: it should have been a defensive gun use. See if you agree:

His first victim was Susan Godfrey, whom he spotted eating a pack lunch with her two children aged two and four in Savernake Woods. He forced the terrified woman to put children in the car, and then marched her to the woods and shot her 13 times with an AK 47 rifle . . .

Next he shot Marjorie Jackson and 14-year-old Lisa Mildenhall, wounding them both severely. Then he shot at Ken Clements and killed him as he walked with his three children.

As PC Roger Brereton arrived on the scene, Ryan raked his car with bullets and started firing at random at houses on both sides of the street.

He shot Linda Chapman and her 16-year-old daughter Alison, wounding them, then targeted retired Abdul Khan, killing him as he was mowing his lawn.

Alan Lepetit was also targeted by Ryan as was Ivor Jackson, and Hazel Haslett. George White and Francis Butler, who had been walking his dog in the park, were killed.

By 1.30pm he had shot 16, killing eight – including his mother who had seen Ryan and tried to tell him to stop.

But Ryan wasn’t done and he carried on shooting, finally stopping at 1.47pm.

Mr. Ryan committed his first murder at 12:30 in the afternoon. His killing spree was unopposed for an hour and 47 minutes, spread over four locations in close proximity. The nearest armed police were busy training that day, some 40 miles from the scene of the crime.

NRA jefe Wayne LaPierre famously pronounced that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In this case, Mr. Ryan eventually hunkered down in his old school and blew his brains out; I hardly think he qualifies as a “good guy with a gun.”

But the general point remains: a good guy with a gun is the fastest way to stop a bad guy with a gun. Which also means the more good guys with guns there are around, the better. The fewer, the worse. Too bad the Brits couldn’t figure that out.

27 Responses to Hungerford Massacre Revisited: This is What Happens to a Disarmed Populace

  1. In a hoplophobic society, hoplophobes are willing to accept regular non-gun based violent crime and murder as a fair trade for not having gun violence. It’s a demented attitude.

    • And in that hoplophobic society: all violent crime goes though the roof (but they refuse to acknowledge it as such) and then when the occasion flake inevitably commits a crime with a firearm anyway the solution is to double down on the civil rights of everyone.
      K.
      Got it.

        • Charles Napier had the right answer to “it’s our custom.” “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

    • Sort of. You’re forgetting to add that “fair trade for not having gun violence” only applies to islands where there is not yet enough financial incentive to run guns along with the drugs that are smuggled in.

      France has been a gun free paradise right?

      England and Australia are the only major countries I can think of where there has been a small degree of success in keeping firearms away from the ones who like to make national headlines. England and Australia are both basically islands.

    • You have a twisted definition of “good guy”. He was a wolf dressed as a sheep, which is what criminals do. Freedom means these people will exist and we have to react based on their actions. Other wise we have thought police and pre-crime. If you have an alternative system that preserves freedom, keeps power (real power) in the hands of the people (the real people not like Soviet “the people”), enhances safety, and doesn’t depend on a (easily coruptable) benevolent all-powerful authority, then I’m all ears.

      • Did you even understand what you read? he was crazy, legitimately crazy. so that kinda makes its stupid to lump him together with common criminals.

      • The line between criminal gun use & bad gun use is a trigger pull. In this case, I use “good” as a term in that largely the guy had his guns legally. I love the freedom as much as anyone to have a gun. It is also a power easily abused. That is all I was saying

        • So really does not matter wheather you have a any type mental state, if you are going to commit these atrocities, you will get hold of a weapon, creating laws for the responsible gun owners does nothing to stop these shootings, and the statistics are out there to prove this.

    • tiger,

      The problem is a human set out to murder several people. His potential victims’ ability to defend themselves is a paramount concern, not a secondary consideration.

      Who the attacker set out to kill and what tools/methods he deployed are a secondary consideration.

  2. And to think they thought we “colonists” were wimps to run from the Redcoats. Where they would stand in lines and take bullets. Took them a short amount of time to get rid of their own freedom. They never had liberty being the subjects they are, but becoming a nation full of Hoplophobes…. It is getting to the point where you can defeat most of Europe by saying “BOO”

    During a terror attack they had beer mugs to fight back with….

    Glad we are not subjects, though there are a lot who seem to want us to be, it is not a majority; Yet.

  3. Liberals believe that the placation of aggressors will do away with violence. They believe that disarming law-abiding gun owners will make criminals less violent or nonviolent.

    • “Liberals believe that the placation of aggressors will do away with violence.”

      I agree that is a common assessment. I also believe it to be false. Rather, I believe that Liberals abhor violent self-defense and promote appeasement strategy to assuage their conscience.

      Saying it another way, Liberals:
      — loathe violent self-defense
      — loathe themselves for being unwilling to defend themselves
      — tout appeasement in a desperate attempt to feel better about being unwilling to defend themselves.

      Oh, I should also mention why Liberals want to force the rest of us into the same boat: they would feel much better about being defenseless because it must be “proper” if everyone is doing it.

        • Yet they are willing to send our young men and women to fight and kill and try and save defenceless women and children overseas. It’s ok for us to go and do their killing overseas, but on our return we may be too much of a risk to own a gun???????

  4. Well he chopped off the heads of 50 people but thank God guns were not involved. Said every gun grabbing leftist. Well he tried to chop off peoples heads but somebody shot his ass. Thank God.
    CNN goes gun control apeshit crazy.

  5. If this is not an archetype example of “it should have been a defense gun use” it comes pretty close. Those people would not have needed a gun on their body, concealed or open, to stop the threat. They could have gone back to their homes and retrieved a firearm.

    Ditto for some of the terrorist attacks that have been taking place recently in the UK. If one of the businesses in the area of a machete/knife attack had a firearm stashed on the premises good people would have had a better chance. Many people wanted to fight back, and did, but with improvised weapons. If you believe in the legal right to self-defense then the ability to “bear arms” is merely a corollary.

  6. I left the UK 2 years before this happened. He was a member of a gun club, and from the various articles you all know how hard it was in the UK to obtain a firearms license. I was one of many competitive shooters in the UK. IPSC, pistol and Rifle were both very popular with teams competing all over the World. It was the second massacre later at the kids school in Scotland that sealed the fate of gunowners and all guns were confiscated.
    Don’t confuse what the UK Government decreed and what UK Citizen’s wanted. The massacres gave the Government the excuse to confiscate the guns. Same thing happens here in the US after a mass shooting. The Government, either at the State level or Federal start looking to see if they can use this to make the changes they want. You only have to look at Sandy Hook and San Bernadino to see the resulting changes. Support the 2nd Ammendment, but in the right way. Don’t give any Government a chance to use marches and protesters against us. I have been a USC since ’07 and exercise my rights and continue to shoot regularly and carry.

    • TRUBRIT, the part of your post that rang so true, and in my mind is at the very core of our battle for our rights is this, “The Government, either at the State level or Federal start looking to see if they can use this to make the changes they want.” “…to make the changes THEY WANT.”

      We should ask ourselves WHY they (the government) want to make those changes. In my opinion, it is because those who work for government (you know, our a…hole neighbors who need jobs) want to have that control over everyone else. That is how they think. They get programmed to believe that controlling and managing society and the people is their job, and only they can do it well.

      We must keep resisting that attitude.

  7. “The nearest armed police were busy training that day, some 40 miles from the scene of the crime.”

    And yet unarmed cops are vastly superior and obviously we just need more gun control.

    Makes the blood boil.

  8. Just like the U.S. they should pay more attention to mental illness, not tools.
    Remember the Connecticut school shooting? Adam Lanza? have you seen that freaks picture?
    I’ve seen people with eyes like his I thought the same thing: don’t let this guy handle anything sharper than a
    marshmallow.
    His mother told people that she was scared of him- yet she let him access her guns. Either through ignorance, or incompetence. Boom. Mass killing.
    He was batshit insane, but, if you try to blame the mother- you will be crucified, and the guns will be blamed, anyway.

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