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Britain has some of the most restrictive controls on firearms of any nation on earth. Inspector Colin Greenwood wrote the first academic study of gun control in England and Wales, at Cambridge University, in 1972. He found that registration of guns and the licensing of guns had no effect on crime. From A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms Control in England and Wales . . .

How, then, should policy on firearms controls be affected by the facts produced?  The system of registering all firearms to which Section I applies as well as licensing the individual takes up a large part of the police time involved and causes a great deal of trouble and inconvenience.  The voluminous records so produced appear to serve no useful purpose.  In none of the cases examined in this study was the existence of these records of any assistance in detecting a crime and no one questioned during the course of the study could establish the value of the system of registering weapons.

He  later documented that the gun laws in England were passed because of fear of revolution instead of to control crime.Law Professor and Historian Joyce Lee Malcolm buttressed Greenwood’s work in her books detailing the rise of English gun controls. In spite of evidence of the ineffectiveness of these laws, politicians in England and Wales continue to push for ever more restrictive, administratively expensive, and ineffective firearms legislation. From

The chaotic, fractured and inadequate gun control regime covering more than 1.8 million firearms in private hands needs to be overhauled or will result in further massacres, a new report warns.

A damning investigation by the official police inspectorate reveals that some of Britain’s biggest police forces have ignored requests to tighten up their licensing programme despite widespread failures revealed following a triple gun murder nearly four years ago.

While the article references the number of firearms, the number of legal firearms owners is less than half as many. From

  • There were 151,413 firearm certificates on issue as at 31 March 2014, an increase of 2.5% compared with 147,695 on issue at the end of March 2013.
  • The number of firearms covered by such certificates increased in the last year (to 507,867 firearms) and is the highest number since these figures were first collected in 1995.
  • There were 582,923 shotgun certificates on issue as at 31 March 2014, an increase of 2.1% from the 570,726 on issue at the end of March 2013.

There were about 734,336 legal firearms owners in England and Wales in 2014, the latest year that I could find records for. The chart at the top of the post shows a slight rise in firearms ownership in England and Wales. It has been enough to cause the disarmists to push for even more restrictive legislation.

Note that the disarmists have to go back four years to find a sensational case involving a legal gun owner. The population of England and Wales is about 57.5 million in 2015, so about 1.3% of the population owns guns, under tightly regulated circumstances.  Defense of self and others is not a sufficient reason to be allowed to own a gun in the UK.

The important point of this number is *not* that the number of crimes committed with legal guns is statistically insignificant; but rather that the number of gun owners is statistically insignificant as a voting block. Nothing in the article mentions the increased violent crime rate with illegal guns and other instruments, that occurred after the strict firearms laws were passed.

The UK subverted their version of the Second Amendment in the 20th Century. Even though the Second Amendment is derived from English roots, Colin Greenwood showed how the English right to arms was simply ignored out of existence by 1972.   There is a point when the number of gun owners becomes low enough that they can be ignored by the ruling elite. That is what has happened in England and Wales.

It is not enough to merely follow the rule of law.  A totalitarian despot can follow the rule of law by passing draconian laws.  Governments must be limited in what they are allowed to do. The limitation in UK law was insufficient to be effective, and the level of firearms ownership was insufficient to preserve their right through the democratic process.

It is a lesson that the citizens of the United States would be well served to pay attention to.


©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. The reason politicians push gun control is because to the average citizen idiot, it sounds intuitive and it makes the politicians look like they care about their safety.

    • That’s the reason politicians push for new laws just generally speaking. The vast majority of situations can be covered by basic, existing legal concepts: recklessness, negligence, malice, etc., that are already codified into familiar laws such as endangerment, assault, battery, manslaughter, and so on. The crimes with a clearly identifiable victim. There are a few exceptions. Simple traffic laws are the equivalent of network protocols, serving to list out the ‘coin flip’ type decisions that people have to make as a group. There’s a left side of the road and there’s a right side, and there’s not a huge difference between driving on one versus the other, as long as everyone picks the same side.

      Otherwise, 99.44% of the time when a new law is being proposed, it’s either completely cosmetic, or it’s already covered by one of the basic crimes.

    • There’s also the consideration of their own personal security interests. Given that they will always ensure they themselves have armed guards, they’d much rather anyone not directly beholden to them be disarmed. Human shields work whether they’re willing or not.

  2. If there were only one other gun owner in England besides the killer, and he was buried 5 miles under the ground, he would still be considered an accomplice. Meanwhile these same liberal idiots will march against “Israeli occupation” and take no responsibility at all for the gas they throw on that fire.

  3. “The voluminous records so produced appear to serve no useful purpose.”

    We are talking about a government agency/initiative so that sounds about right.

  4. In the absence of a written constitution, the British Parliament can do effectively whatever the hell it wants. We call it “elective monarchy” in political science, with the Prime Minister as monarch, of course.

      • Gerold Nadler D-New York said as much during the dust up over whether to censure or impeach William J. Clinton in 1989.

        “So what if it’s not in the Constitution? Neither is Social Security, but we do it any way.”

  5. Once every ten years or so, the nation needs one or two new laws. That’s it. The reason why the Congress passes bullsh1t new laws every year is to justify it’s own existence. Which is why “comonsensegunlaws” are being discussed. Because without a cause to rile up the sheep, the legislature’s uselessness is all too obvious.

    • Indeed. Kind of like how without racial tensions and favoring known enemies to the nation, a president looks useless. Cough cough. I’m no expert here but if someone wanted to look useful they would probably start with a solution and then figure out how to make that problem.

    • Well, that and as a way of extorting campaign contributions. Why hasn’t the R&D tax credit just been made permanent? It’s been around in almost exactly the same form for decades. Because if they made it permanent, they companies would stop donating to keep getting it renewed. And that’s true for a million other laws.

      Go check out what Laurence Lessig has been up to, and his book, “Republic Lost”.

  6. the gun laws in England were passed because of fear of revolution.
    Now we have the real root reason for gun control laws.

    • Perhaps in an alternate timeline, there couldve been a revolution and England as we know it could’ve been entirely different as a result, a second America almost, taking a cue from our revolution.

  7. Here in the U.S. I think we may have crossed a threshold. While the Antis will site polls that say gun ownership is as low as 30%. These are the same people that claimed 90% support for “universal background checks” based on a survey of 3000 people in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania that asked “do you support background checks at gun shows.”

    The truth is, gun owners are probably at or over 40% of the population. Annual NICS checks continue to break records, the number of people applying for concealed carry permits, especially women, are rising. And States with restrictive gun laws and registration schemes are seeing a steady documented rise in firearms ownership. Even many otherwise left leaning people are buying guns and are beginning to rediscover the Second Amendment as well as the rest of the Bill of Rights.

    For the Antis, we passed the point of no return some time in the last decade. Which is why the vocal minority have holed up in the last bastions of gun control like New York and California and have gotten so desperately shrill.

    Because we are winning.

  8. It doesn’t matter if the U.K. had its own 2A in the 20th century.

    You must be a CITIZEN first to have rights and the people there are SUBJECTS under a monarch/theocrat”s whims, with Parliament doing the bidding of its lords.

    If you are living under royalty, then you are not a free person/citizen. The end.

    • We are ruled in a monarchy in name only, in theory the crown has the power to overrule laws but literally NEVER does. The majority of our lords are appointed based on contributions to society (doctors, lawyers, businessmen, etc) and some gain their positions through ancestry, although they are the minority.

      I don’t think you understand just how little the monarchy affects our daily lives. At this point they are completely uninvolved in the running of the country and simply tourist attractions and public figureheads.

    • N. Ireland is kind of a special case due to the amount of guns knocking around thanks to The Troubles, plus Scotland keeps its own records and the Isle of Mann is minuscule in comparison to the mainland.

    • England & Wales as a single legal jurisdiction comprises around 84% of the population of the UK. Scotland and Northern Ireland are each separate legal jurisdictions, and publish their figures separately. Generally levels of all crime are slightly higher in Scotland than E&W, and Northern Ireland has level slightly higher than Scotland.

      The Isle of Man is not part of the UK.

  9. From the amazon review of Greenwood’s book: “The Cambridge study was the first academic study done on the subject. Greenwood was surprised to learn that no one had put any real study into firearms crime before the laws were passed. As he continued his work, it became clear that THE MOTIVATIONS FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE LAWS WERE ALMOST COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO THE PUBLICLY STATED REASONS FOR THEIR PASSAGE.”

    There it is – the TRUE motivation for all “gun control” laws is the CONTROL of the people. “Stopping crime” is the easily-believed lie that the statists use to disarm the populace. The ruling classes actually like high levels of crime, because that tends to make the sheep call for more government controls and more government power, I think the unanticipated positive result of 9-11-2001 and hurricane Katrina was that the American people saw conclusive evidence that the government CANNOT protect them when the SHTF. Most people in this country – even some of the liberals – how recognize that you are your own “first responder”. Call 911 and die.

  10. arguments like this scare me. it seems to me we are justifying the removal of ALL guns since there is no real way to tell who will do something bad with them. it seems that we are bolstering the true disarmament sentiment when saying “see! no laws can stop bad people with guns or stop bad guys from getting guns” of course at the same time WE all know ” no, they can’t. only a good guy with a gun can”. but just thought it was worth saying.

  11. No, there are not “734,336 legal firearms owners,” for the very simple reason that Shotgun Certificate holders and Firearms Certificate holders are not mutually exclusive. Most shotguns cannot be held on a Firearms Certificate, and no firearms other than the majority of shotguns can be held on a Shotgun Certificate. Someone owning both a double-barrelled shotgun and a small or large bore rifle will need both types of Certifcate.

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