Firearms control debate

I switched on the box last night after tea, and while flicking round for something anything to watch, I stumbled across a debate about firearms control on BBC Parliament. It seems an independent report has been published in the wake of the Raoul Moat and Derek Bird killings. I then proceeded to bore the living crap out of Mrs Bucko by watching the whole thing.

Firearm control is a subject I am particularly interested in after recently acquiring a shotgun licenceand buying a shotgun. It would be a particular kick in the face going through all that in order to have shotguns banned.

Just for the record, I don't believe any weapons should be banned. Certainly stop certain unstable or criminal people owning them, but I believe all fit and proper people should be able to own any weapon of their choice for any reason. I will be happy to debate my beliefs with you.

Seen as I bored Mrs Bucko to tears last night, I'm going to do the same to you now by quoting some dry statistics from the report. Feel free to bugger off and make a brew, and return when I'm done.

• Firearms were used in 14,250 offences recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2008/09, including 6,042 cases involving air weapons and 8,208 cases involving other firearms.
• 45% of police recorded offences involving firearms other than air weapons related to violence against the person, 44% to robbery and 6% to criminal damage.
• Just over a third of fatal or serious injuries were caused by handguns, just under a third by rifles or “other” firearms, 18% by shotguns and 17% by air weapons.
• There were 39 firearms homicides in 2008/09, which represented 6% of all homicides during the year: 4 of these deaths involved a weapon that was held on a certificate; 17 involved a weapon that was not held on a certificate; the status of the weapons in the remaining 18 deaths was unknown.
• The most recent figures show 138,728 firearm certificates on issue in England and Wales, covering 435,383 firearms; and 26,072 firearm certificates on issue in Scotland, covering 70,856 firearms.
• The most recent figures show 574,946 shotgun certificates on issue in England and Wales, covering 1,366,082 shotguns; and 50,308 shotgun certificates on issue in Scotland, covering 137,768 shotguns.
• There are 34 pieces of legislation governing the control of firearms.

Lets take a quick look at the statistics as a reason for further gun control.
There were 8208 cases involving firearms in the year quoted. A third of these were caused by handguns which are currently illegal anyway. 39 of these cases were homicides and a possible 24 of them involved legally held weapons.
There are currently 138,728 firearm certificates and 574,946 shotgun certificates being held, covering a total of 1.8 million weapons.
Therefore, 0.0033% of legal gun owners used their weapons to commit a homicide. Over 1.8 million legally held weapons, that statistic is so insignificant, I'm not even sure why they bothered having the debate.

They can demonstrate no evidence to further legislate against legal gun owners. Fair enough, illegally owned weapons are a serious problem and that should be looked at. As was mentioned in last nights debate, handgun crime has increased since handguns were banned. Maybe the debate should be about lifting the ban on handguns and letting people who use them for sport etc, do so again, because the ban simply has not worked.

Fortunately the debate didn't really surround further restrictive legislation, it was more about clearing up current laws, of which there are many. Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North did go into a long tirade about how he wants all guns to be banned. Fortunately this small minded muppet was on his own. His argument was also very flawed. He read out a very long list of crimes that had been committed with illegal firearms. Because illegal guns are just that, illegal, and the debate was about legal guns, it was all a bit meaningless and a bit too emotional rather than logical.

A lot of libertarian minded people would say that he is entitled to his opinion. I disagree. His opinion is that me and many others should have something we own responsibly, taken away from us, by force if necessary. That we should be told what we can and cannot own on the whim of the state responding to a frightened public, whipped into a frenzy by the media. So no, he is not entitled to it.

The report made a series off recommendations including consolidating the shotgun and firearms licences into one, looking at the ages in which children can be licenced for firearms, "tagging" peoples medical records and consulting spouses / ex spouses on an application for a firearms licence.

I mention these as they were the most debated and have been rejected by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

My personal favourite is the suggestion that ex-spouses should be consulted on an application. Chances are there will be bad blood between the applicant and an ex-partner. A good opportunity to cause harm or problems.
Even asking a current spouse could be divisive to the relationship.

To be blunt, this idea is silly.

The Government now have two months to look at the report and the recommendations and to respond. It should be interesting to see what they come up with.

The entire debate can be read here. (If you are having trouble sleeping)

8 Comments:

JuliaM said...

Bucko said...

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