Sunday, September 9, 2007

Flying Pigs Alert!

Every Brit I've ever met has defended his country's strict gun controls. The British press seems to reflect this attitude perfectly, with a determined defense of the British policies and self-righteous condemnation of the American “Wild West” and its allegedly out-of-control gun culture.

So when I read the headline of a column this morning in the London Times, by Richard Munday, I was quite surprised – and even more surprising was the contents. The column is headlined Wouldn't you feel safer with a gun?, and it starts like this:

Despite the recent spate of shootings on our streets, we pride ourselves on our strict gun laws. Every time an American gunman goes on a killing spree, we shake our heads in righteous disbelief at our poor benighted colonial cousins. Why is it, even after the Virginia Tech massacre, that Americans still resist calls for more gun controls?

The short answer is that “gun controls” do not work: they are indeed generally perverse in their effects.
I fear that this heresy puts Mr. Munday's British citizenship in danger of revocation. By Monday morning, it's likely he'll be seeking asylum at the U.S. Embassy in London.

But it gets even better:
Virginia Tech reinforced the lesson that gun controls are obeyed only by the law-abiding. New York has “banned” pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain).
Here's a liberal commentator, in a liberal newspaper, in a liberal country, citing the uncomfortable facts that liberals around the world struggle mightily to suppress and deny. What the heck is going on here? I have no doubt now that pigs are flying between the skyscrapers in London!

Here's the column's conclusion:

As late as 1951, self-defence was the justification of three quarters of all applications for pistol licences. And in the years 1946-51 armed robbery, the most significant measure of gun crime, ran at less than two dozen incidents a year in London; today, in our disarmed society, we suffer as many every week.

Gun controls disarm only the law-abiding, and leave predators with a freer hand. Nearly two and a half million people now fall victim to crimes of violence in Britain every year, more than four every minute: crimes that may devastate lives. It is perhaps a privilege of those who have never had to confront violence to disparage the power to resist.

Mr. Munday asks, “Wouldn't you feel safer with a gun?”

Well, Mr. Munday, speaking as a gun owner in the American Wild West, I can tell you this: even though I live in an area with statistically and historically very low rates of crime, my wife and I do indeed feel much safer with a gun. Several guns, actually. We own three firearms: a seven-shot Smith & Wesson revolver, a six-shot Beretta semiautomatic shotgun (a so-called “riot gun”), and a 22 gauge Remington rifle (a “varmint gun”). The guns are all legally purchased and licensed. Both my wife and I have attended formal training and have practiced on the range; the varmint rifle gets regular use on our property (mostly against ground squirrels and gophers).

The police emergency response time to the area where we live is around 30 to 60 minutes – not because the police are incompetent, but because we live quite far from any police station. If some bad guy showed up on our doorstep, dialing 911 and waiting for the police to show up is a recipe for becoming a victim. Our guns are much more likely to succeed in defending us, either as a shock-and-awe deterrent (that shotgun would punch some impressive holes in a vehicle!) or in violent self-defense.

Does that make us feel safer? Of course it does. As it should anyone whose brain hasn't been muddled with liberal claptrap…

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