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The People's Right to Keep and Bear Arms
The 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the Right of the people to Keep and Bear Arms shall not be infringed."
Right to Bear Arms News 3/07/01
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 2:32 AM
Subject: Re: Crime in Britain and Australia vs USA
Source: Punch Magazine
Published: May 3-16, 2000
Britain's Tough Gun Control Laws Termed Total Failure
Land Of Hope And Gunrunning
By Peter Woolrich
Four years after the Dunblane massacre, Britain's
tighter gun laws have failed completely. Now there
is a race against time to stop the UK from becoming
as trigger-happy as the US.
[Officers are being confronted by youngsters on
mountain bikes with automatic weapons]
Britain's gun control laws, introduced after the
Dunblane massacre in 1996, have proven to be a disaster.
There are now an estimated three million illegal
firearms in the UK, perhaps double the number of
four years ago, and the only effect the knee-jerk
political reaction that led to the Firearms (Amendment)
Act 1997 has had is to shut down legitimate gun clubs.
Fears that Britain is on the way to adopting a US-style
gun culture are now a reality "We look to Los Angeles
for the language we use," Morrissey once sang, but it
was never envisaged that "drive-by shooting" and "Big Mac"
(the Mac-10 sub-machine gun, which fires 20 rounds a
second) would become as much a part of the vocabulary
of street-wise teenagers in Merseyside, Glasgow and
London as hamburger and fries.
Some believe the three million figure, collated by Home
Affairs Committee researchers working on a recent
parliamentary report into the gun trade. Either way,
vast stockpiles of weapons have fuelled a spate of
shootings in Britain's cities, including Manchester
where a 17-year-old was recently killed.
The new research suggests that in some areas a third
of young criminals, classed as those aged 15 to 25
with convictions, own or have access to guns ranging
from Beretta sub-machine guns to Luger pistols, which
change hands on street corners and in pubs for as
little as 150 (pounds).
"There is a move from the pistol and shotgun to
automatic weapons," says Detective Superintendent
Keith Hudson of the National Crime Squad. "We are
recovering weapons that are relatively new - and
sometimes still in their boxes from eastern
In London there were more than 20 fatal shootings
last year allegedly linked with the Yardies,
gangsters who have their roots in Jamaica, compared
with nine killings in 1998. In one, Andy Balfour,
32, was shot eight times with a Mac 10, and last summer
BBC hip-hop disc jockey Tim Westwood was shot by a
man on a motorbike who opened fire as he drove home
from a gig in Kennington, south London.
Last month, Gabriel Egharevba, 17, was also shot by
a man on a motorcycle in Longsight, Manchester, the
eighth fatal shooting in the city in seven months.
The previous year two teenagers aged 14 and 17
were gunned down in the same area by a gang with
automatic machine guns.
Police say that modern weapons are fast becoming
fashion accessories, along with trainers and jewellery,
among young drug dealers protecting themselves and
their territory. Unarmed officers now find themselves
being confronted by youngsters on mountain bikes
brandishing automatic guns.
In Birmingham there have been about 100 crimes
a month involving firearms since last March,
compared with 88 a month in the year ending
April 1998. Two men were shot dead in the
city in separate incidents at Christmas.
The government declared an amnesty on guns
after Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children
and a teacher in Dunblane, resulting in 162,000
weapons being handed in, but this has failed to
make even a dent in the underworld's supply of
pistols and revolvers. A steady flow continues to
come in from former Eastern bloc countries, but
criminals have now found an even cheaper and safer
source of weaponry.
"Factories" up and down the country are churning
out decommissioned guns, often stolen from private
collectors and sold at trade fairs and through the
classified ads of specialist magazines, that have
been reactivated by re-boring the barrels and
replacing the firing pin.
Another growing source of illegal guns are "cloning"
or "off-ticket sale" dealers, who operate in a
similar way to car ringers. Stolen firearms disappear
by being given the identity of an older decommissioned
weapon, details of which don't have to be recorded
under present laws. Last year, ex-Special Constable
Tony Mitchell was jailed for eight years for supplying
criminals with hundreds of guns he specialised in
Mac 10's at 1,100 apiece. He used his engineering
skills to convert the guns from de-activated products
bought via mail order catalogues. One was traced
to a 1997 street murder in Brixton and another
shooting of a police officer by a youth in Manchester's
Moss Side. In all, police linked guns supplied by
Mitchell to 130 crime scenes.
As an indication of how Mitchell and other dealers
feel they can operate with impunity in Britain,
he continued his activities even after a police
raid that saw him arrested and released when no
guns were found.
Detective Constable Cliff Purvis of the National
Crime Squad said: "Some of the weapons which bore
Mitchell's 'signature' mark have been used in
killings and to fire at police.
"I'm sure he was one of the major contributors to
illegal firearms in this country He was a big fish.
There's no question of that."
A big fish or not, Mitchell's shoes were very quickly
filled in what is thought to be a multi-million pound
black market industry Opponents of the handgun ban,
introduced after Dunblane, claim it has failed to cut
gun crime because of the multiple sources of weapons
available to criminals.
Home Office figures soon to be released will show that,
overall, armed crime rose 10 per cent in 1998. There
were 13,671-armed offences compared with 12,410 the
previous year. Firearms experts have long called for
more research to assess the accurate flow of illegal
weapons and, although attempts are being made by the
Home Affairs Committee, it remains to be seen if the
government will act upon its recommendations. It is
a relatively simple measure to clamp down on
identifiable gun clubs and collectors, but another
to penetrate the underworld.
Bill Harriman, a member of the Firearms Consultative
Committee and a spokesman for the British Association
for Shooting and Conservation, says that current
legislation focuses on law-abiding citizens who
belong to gun clubs. "It should," he says, "have
been directed at illegally held firearms."
Even though pistols were banned under the Dunblane
regulations, they are still the weapon of choice for
armed criminals and were used in 1,854 of the 3,029
armed robberies in England and Wales in 1997.
The government had plenty of evidence at its disposal
to realise that simply banning certain types of weapons
is ineffective. For example, fully-automatics have been
prohibited since 1937 but it has not stopped criminals
using them. Harriman believes that, far from being
discouraged from using guns, criminals, as well as
people with no criminal record, are becoming more trigger-happy
"Firearms are now being used to settle minor disputes,"
he comments. "There's an argument in the pub and it's
settled in the car park with a bullet, or someone keeps
a pistol in the glove compartment of his car and uses
it in a fit of road rage."
"The Dunblane legislation should have been directed
at stopping this attitude and taking handguns out of
the grasp of criminals. If the 95 million paid in
compensation to former pistol owners had been used
to target armed robbers, something fundamental could
have been done to end gun culture."
Harriman's view is supported by a large number of
police officers who privately say that the 1997 legislation
IS a nonsense, but are afraid to speak publicly for
fear of offending their political masters. One exception
is Superintendent Nigel Sutcliffe of West Yorkshire,
who says in a submission put before the Home Affairs
Committee: "It is clear that the bans introduced in
the Firearms (Amendment) Act in respect of handguns
have not worked, in that for the first six months of
1999, 59 handguns have been used in West Yorkshire."
"Clearly, these handguns could not be lawfully possessed
and, therefore, must have been illegally imported
into the country or already be in the unlawful
possession of someone."
"These facts tend to support those shooting organisations
who were opposing the ban of handguns... in that handguns
in the lawful possession of those involved in target
shooting were rarely used in criminal activity" However,
the gun used at Dunblane was legally held by Hamilton,
a gun club member.
As well as eastern Europe, America is also a foreign
source of illegal weapons. British security services
recently revealed that weapons bought at Florida
gun shows and posted to the UK had been intercepted
in north London and Manchester.
MI6 has no idea how many packages have already got
through, but are aware of larger consignments being
brought across the Atlantic by private yachts and
dropped into the sea off the Kent coast. The bundles
are fitted with remote-controlled flotation tanks and
beacons, the signals from which can be picked up by
global positioning systems.
One effect the handgun ban does seem to have had is to
lead to a shortage of ammunition, which means that
the illegal armouries make even more money by supplying
that as well.
Perversely, the law actually assists criminals in
building their own ammunition because a loophole does
not make it an offence to own or even to have the
component parts sent through the post. Anyone can buy
primers, cases, propellant and bullets (the missile)
without any form of certification. The gun only needs
to be registered once the pieces are put TOGETHER to
form a whole.
In written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee,
the Police Federation has pointed out the "laxity"
of the Dunblane legislation in not dealing with
ammunition, as well as a number of other "inconsistencies".
It says: "The time is now right for parliament to
address the entire issue and produce a completely
new Firearms Act. Any lesser step will be insufficient."
The Police Federation is demanding that anomalies
such as someone being legally permitted to own a
shotgun while being deemed unfit to possess a
firearm, as happened at Cardiff Crown Court in April
last year, must be changed. It's a question of whether
the government has the bottle to enact something more
effective than the cosmetic exercise it undertook last time.
"If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation
should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of
crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so
after a century and a half of trying that they must sweep under the
rug the southern attempts at gun control in the 1870-1910 period, the
northeastern attempts in the 1920-1939 period, and the attempts
at both Federal and State levels in 1965-1976 - establishes the repeated,
complete, and inevitable failure of gun laws to control crime." -- Senator
Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) quoted from "The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Report
of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Washington: U.S.
Government Printing Office, February 1982, p. vii."
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