Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

May 27, 2005

Always Blame the Inanimate Objects

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:39 am

In 1997, Britain banned essentially all private ownership of handguns. The intent, of course, was to reduce crime. The effect, of course, was the opposite:

Crime was not supposed to rise after handguns were banned in 1997. Yet, since 1996 the serious violent crime rate has soared by 69%: robbery is up by 45% and murders up by 54%. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50% from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned the robbery rate shot back up, almost back to their 1993 levels.

The 2000 International Crime Victimization Survey, the last survey done, shows the violent-crime rate in England and Wales was twice the rate in the U.S. When the new survey for 2004 comes out, that gap will undoubtedly have widened even further as crimes reported to British police have since soared by 35%, while declining 6% in the U.S.

In addition, over the last few decades, Britain has gradually reduced the right to self-defense, to the point that is doesn’t exist anymore in any meaningful sense:

Rather than permitting people to protect themselves, the authorities’ response to the recent series of brutal attacks on home-owners has been to advise people to get more locks and, in case of a break-in, retreat to a secure room – presumably the bathroom – to call the police. They are not to keep any weapon for protection or approach the intruder. Someone might get hurt. If that someone is the intruder the resident will be sued by the burglar and vigorously prosecuted by the state.

For almost 500 years, until 1954, England and Wales enjoyed a declining rate of violent crime. In the last years of the 19th century, when there were no restrictions on guns, there was just one handgun homicide a year in a population of 30 million people. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world.

The practical removal of the right to self defence began with Britain’s 1920 Firearms Act, the first serious limitation on privately-owned firearms. It was motivated by fear of a Bolshevik-type revolution rather than concerns about householders defending themselves against robbers. Anyone wanting to keep a firearm had to get a certificate from his local police chief certifying that he was a suitable person to own a weapon and had a good reason to have it. The definition of “good reason”, left to the police, was gradually narrowed until, in 1969, the Home Office decided “it should never be necessary for anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person”. Since these guidelines were classified until 1989, there was no opportunity for public debate.

Self defence within the home was also progressively legislated against. … The public were told that society would protect them and their neighbours. If they saw someone being attacked they were to walk on by, and leave it to the professionals.

Finally, in 1967, tucked into an omnibus revision of criminal law, approved without discussion, was a section that altered the traditional standards for self-defence. Everything was to depend on what seemed “reasonable” force after the fact. It was never deemed reasonable to defend property with force.

So what to do after you ban guns and self-defense, and crime increases? According to three British doctors, the answer is: ban pointed kitchen knives.

I mentioned this to my wife, and her first reaction was, “Is this a joke?” No, it’s not a joke, it’s not a parody, and the only “joke” is that they are actually being entirely serious. This was published in the British Medical Journal, and I think we should take it precisely as seriously as we would take an article on cancer treatment appearing in a criminology journal. But alas, the BBC at least seems to be taking it seriously. As is the British government, which had this response:

Home Office spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of knives.

“The law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of knives in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches.”

Oh, so it’s already illegal to carry knives in public. So no one can buy one and take it home from the store through a public place. So nobody has one anyway.

So that is why the rate of stabbing has increased so much in recent years … waitaminute….

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