The British Relationship with Guns

There have been 61 mass shootings over the past 30 years in America, over 75 percent of the killers retrieved their guns legally.

I’m not saying that the UK is immune to this problem; it certainly isn’t. On Sept. 18, two police officers in Manchester, England, were tragically lured to their deaths and killed by a man who had made a burglary call, only to gun them down with weapons including grenades. The suspect turned himself into police hours later.

This kind of thing in the UK is extremely rare. So rare, in fact, that the rolling news channels gave it nearly blanket coverage during the crucial hours after the shooting and during the arrest. In the UK since 1900, there have been just under 500 deaths of police officers whilst on duty. Not all of those are gun related, either, a high percentage are, but others are genuine accidents at work, such as being run over by another police car.

Contrast this to America, 173 officers died in the line of duty last year alone. Unfortunately, there is no way of comparing the data as there are no statistics that go back that far over here. Any way you look at it, however, it’s clear that even when you make the data from the UK proportionate to that of the US, American police officers are far more likely to get shot at work.

In a poll recently conducted in the UK, just over 40 percent of respondents say that they would feel safer with an armed force. However, 82 percent of the police themselves do not want to be armed. They say it removes the police as being seen as figures of safety, and instead would make them far more threatening.

In the US, high school massacres are sadly almost commonplace. In the past two years there have been two and throughout the 2000s there was at least one shooting every year, resulting in 142 deaths. The worst school massacre to ever occur in the United Kingdom was the Dunblane primary school shooting. In March 1996, Thomas Hamilton shot and killed fifteen students all aged between five and six, killed their teacher, and then turned the gun on himself. It was following this that the next year private ownership of handguns in the UK became completely illegal, not just strictly controlled as it always had been.

No matter which way you look at it, proportionally, the US does far worse than the UK in this respect.

So, is it time for America to give up it’s fascination with guns? From a British perspective, yes. The right to bear arms was granted to the people of the United States in order for them to overthrow any oppressive governments, yet, with everyone armed in the United States the original goodness that freedom brought is almost non-existent. When everyone has a gun, no one might as well have a gun, and the crime and crises it causes every year to the whole of the US must cost the people of this nation a huge amount of money and suffering for no real reason at all.

Guns were the answer in less diplomatic times. In times gone by sometimes the only way people could get their views across was to fire a gun so that everyone would listen. It is also worth pointing out that at the time the amendment was made the threat of a government which might need overpowering was a very real one, not half from my ancestors in England.

These days the power does not come from the masses holding guns, it comes from individuals with web pages, video making and writing abilities, exposing the truth and shaming those in charge. The internet is a wealth of information. It is possibly the best untapped human resource ever invented for bringing down those running the world, that power just hasn’t been fully discovered yet.



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