First, a little background for those who aren’t completely up to date on British history and politics. The UK may officially be known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but what the government in London doesn’t want to admit is that the United Kingdom isn’t really all that united.
Centuries ago, England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland were all brought together by force. If you’ve ever heard of William Wallace, you know that war after bloody war was fought to keep the kingdom united. Even as recently as 2021, Scotland’s parliament had a majority that favors independence.
Ireland has been more successful than Scotland in breaking away. Wars between the Irish and the British have been going on for centuries on multiple continents. Not only did the fighting happen in Ireland and England, but it’s even spread to the United States and Canada, but that’s another story. The Irish fought their last full-scale war against London during World War I, and achieved full independence in 1922.
But, there has been one unresolved issue: the British kept control over the northernmost counties of the island. This resulted in decades of irregular warfare, including bombings, shootings, and other violence over these remaining counties, otherwise known as The Troubles.
This period ended with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which temporarily settled the bloody conflict by granting Northern Ireland more self-government…but kept it in the UK until such time as a majority of people in Northern Ireland want to leave the UK and join Ireland.
Not everyone was happy with the agreement, but the levels of violence dropped significantly, as many grievances were addressed. Those who were still dissatisfied formed splinter groups to continue the fight, with the “The Real IRA” separating from the Irish Republican Army and later, that group splintering still further over various issues (often ceasefires that not all members agreed to). But, the violence never came close to the levels seen during The Troubles.
Then Brexit complicated things. The Good Friday Agreement made a number of references to the European Union and guaranteed the residents of Northern Ireland access to EU institutions, like the European Court of Human Rights. More importantly, the fact that both the UK and Ireland were part of the EU meant that the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland was largely invisible, with no barriers, vehicle searches, or customs checks.
When the UK chose to leave the EU, that meant either Northern Ireland leaving, too, or breaking the Good Friday Agreement and potentially restarting The Troubles.
The UK ultimately settled on what is now the Northern Ireland Protocol. In a sort of hybrid solution, Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, but also retains its status as part of the EU common travel and trade area. This avoids the issue of cutting Northern Ireland off from the rest of Ireland with a hard border, but it also means that Northern Ireland can’t be part of the normal UK customs area. So customs checks are now required for anything going from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. That angered unionists (the people in Northern Ireland who want to remain part of the UK).
That’s situation that neither side is happy with, and a widespread feeling that the Good Friday Agreement has been violated.
One more fact that you probably are aware of; it’s much more difficult to obtain a firearm in the UK than it is in, say, Wyoming. Or even Mexico. However . . .
Enter The FGC-9
After three years of being (mostly) on a ceasefire status, Óglaigh na hÉireann (the Irish Defense Forces), one of many Real IRA splinter groups, decided it was time to let the government know that they’re still around and ready if any loyalists attack Irish nationalists or republicans.
Óglaigh na hÉireann chose Easter to make a public announcement (the Irish News report is paywalled) but there was a very interesting photo that accompanied the article . . .
— War Noir (@war_noir) April 18, 2022
If you look closely, the masked militant on the left is carrying an FGC-9, a 9mm carbine that can be made at home with a 3D printer, some pieces of pipe, and a few other easily-obtained supplies (see here).
Remember, FGC stands for fuck gun control. TTAG has covered this gun extensively. Even in Europe, one can get the components to make ammunition, too, so there’s very little — other than, ostensibly, the law — that’s stopping anyone from being armed now, even in heavily gun-controlled jurisdictions.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the FGC-9 turn up in the hands of people resisting governments. There was also the recent appearance of the weapon in Burma, and simple 3D technology has made it possible to make and use an effective firearm to resist invading forces in other conflicts as well.
Once again, what we’re seeing here is the slow, sure, but absolute death of gun control as a practical limit on individuals choosing to arm themselves. Rather than making meaningless pronouncements or passing increasingly useless prohibitions, governments and activists are going to need to turn their attention to solving the root causes of violence and work things out peacefully with resistance movements if they want to make the world a safer and better place.
In the mean time, those who want to acquire firearms will do so in ever-increasing numbers, no matter how many politicians and regulators that may upset.