Britain's Prince Philip on Security

On banning guns:

"If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat,which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?" In a Radio 4 interview shortly after the Dunblane shootings in 1996. He said to the interviewer off-air afterwards: "That will really set the cat among the pigeons, won't it?"

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM • 125 Comments

Comments

nomexonymousJune 18, 2012 12:49 PM

Ooh, a gun control discussion.

Time to put on my nomex suit, grab some popcorn, sit back and watch the hilarity that's going to ensue...

GMJune 18, 2012 1:00 PM

I used to wonder what the royals did in their palaces all day, but now I see -- they hone their trolling skills.

Spaceman SpiffJune 18, 2012 1:01 PM

When cricket bats are banned, then only the criminals will have cricket bats! BTW, has Google applied for a trademark on the term "googlie" yet... :-)

Catherine JeffersonJune 18, 2012 1:11 PM

Nomexonymous: I see I'm not the only person who thinks Bruce wants to stir up some activity on the blog. <wry grin>

At the same time, I really can't argue with Prince Philip's statement. Presuming that all people in a country are too lacking in self control and maturity to handle a gun is just like presuming the same thing about a cricket bat, or a baseball bat, or an automobile. That sort of attitude about the human race does not belong in a free society. If it is allowed to take hold, in short order you won't *have* a free society.

British PedantJune 18, 2012 1:11 PM

Yes, Prince Philip is English, but referring to him as "England's Prince Phillip" is like referring to "Hawaii's Barack Obama" in an article about FAA guidelines. He's British, he's a Briton, he's from the UK. And he only has one "l" in his name.

a leap at the wheelJune 18, 2012 1:22 PM

British Pedant - In the same way that the British are unable to understand French and Spanish pronunciations, I believe that it is nearly 100% impossible for Americans to understand the difference between England/Briton and the formalities of royal station.

Dan DravotJune 18, 2012 2:02 PM

It's very funny of Prince Philip to engage in such cruelly conscienceless trolling on a subject which is not at all amusing to a rational person, but let's be realistic for a moment:

We in the United States have been implausibly fortunate coincidence that all of the mass shootings in schools and on campuses have taken place in gun-free zones. Had the killers not been so restrained, the death toll would undoubtedly have been many times greater.

But perhaps it would have been for the best, if a mass killer had chosen a venue where he was able to go about his business unrestrained by the reasonable laws which so radically limited the body counts at Virginia Tech and elsewhere. Perhaps that would teach us a valuable lesson, and we would finally take steps to eliminate the legally owned firearms and the "legal" gun culture which alone persuades and enables mentally imbalanced individuals to engage in acts of antisocial violence.

Let us hope that it happens, and happens sooner than later. I, for one, would not be sorry to give my life for such a good cause.

anonymous cowardJune 18, 2012 2:07 PM

Imagine someone walking through the next kindergarten with a chainsaw....

TomJune 18, 2012 2:19 PM

"I really can't argue with Prince Philip's statement."

Really? REALLY? Not even considering that the chances of battering seventeen people to death with a cricket bat in a school without being stopped are incredibly slim? The difference in killing power between a bat, or any other heavy blunt instrument, and a gun is huge.

Joshua OchsJune 18, 2012 2:19 PM

I'd rather not get into the debate over bans, controls, etc, because that's sticky enough as it is. Rather I'd like to emphasize that guns are different in this debate because they are ranged, simple to use, and concealable. I can't think of any other weapon that so effectively combines these traits, and if you remove any one of those you make it much harder to perpetrate violence on others.

If a perpetrator can't conceal the weapon or pose it as something harmless, then they're going to focus attention on themselves, possibly foiling their plans. No other ranged weapon I can think of is as compact and concealable as a gun.

A weapon has to be simple to use, which to me means it must be accurate, reliable, and quickly used. There are some small melee weapons which can be thrown (knives, etc), but they typically require far more skill than simply pulling a trigger, and typically have far lower range and accuracy. Most any other weapon will have significantly higher complexity along one axis or another.

But most important is the simple fact is that a gun is a ranged weapon, whereas most other weapons (knives, bats/clubs/etc) are melee. The old adage of "bringing a knife to a gun fight" is repeated for a reason. If someone can attack you at a distance and you can't attack them, that gives them enormous power.

Just some things to think about when comparing the threat posed by guns versus other weapons.

Random832June 18, 2012 2:23 PM

"We in the United States have been implausibly fortunate coincidence that all of the mass shootings in schools and on campuses have taken place in gun-free zones. Had the killers not been so restrained, the death toll would undoubtedly have been many times greater."

...Huh? You mean the death toll would have been greater if they'd been allowed to have a gun, than what in fact happened which was that they had a gun anyway despite being not allowed? How do you figure?

Dan DravotJune 18, 2012 2:26 PM

@Joshua Ochs: Thank you. I have never seen a more cogent and irrefutable proof that the absurd "self-defense" rationale for guns is insupportable and preposterous.

Michael BradyJune 18, 2012 2:53 PM

Said the man with round-the-clock bodyguards who travels by armored limo or military helicopter.

If only Prince Philip's ancestral in-laws hadn't instructed the army to seize the colonial's powder and shot the second amendment might never have occurred to anyone.

oJune 18, 2012 3:09 PM

Hand guns are solely designed for killing people; cricket bats clearly not.

You'd think the most expensive education money could buy would include a grounding in basic logic, but the centuries of inbreeding probably work against it.

(In fairness to the cantankerous old git I've long suspected a lot of calculated trolling on his part. Suppose a life of sitting on your expensively tailored arse being waited on hand & foot may get a trifle boring after a while...)

atkJune 18, 2012 3:30 PM

@o: Yes! Just like darts and javelins are solely designed for killing people! Let's ban all darts and javelins!

Average AmericanJune 18, 2012 3:37 PM

@o: "Hand guns are solely designed for killing people; cricket bats clearly not. "

Um, [Citation Needed]. About half the people I know own guns. I have never had anyone I know shot by a gun. There are, however, a large number of deer, pheasants, and paper targets that have been.

Drat, did I fall prey to a troll?

anonymous mooseJune 18, 2012 3:37 PM

same argument can go for Nuclear bombs as well, so why don't we make them legal.

Dan DravotJune 18, 2012 3:46 PM

@atk: Didn't you notice where he mentioned Basic Logic? Basic Logic tells us that you have committed a non sequitur. A dart is not designed to shoot people, therefore it is not equivalent to a gun. Also, darts and javelins are used in athletic contests. Since guns require no skill to use, they can't be. Form follows function; therefore, the intent of a design dictates its use, and it is a logical fallacy for an argument to take into account uses which lie outside the original intent of the design. To suggest otherwise is to resign oneself to mere chaos.

And don't give me any nonsense about handguns which are claimed to have been designed for self-defense. Firstly, "self-defense" is a logical contradiction to begin with, since defense is only legitimate when officers of the law defend others; the law of all civilized nations recognizes this fact. Secondly, the original design of handguns was intended solely for the purpose of murder, and the moral force of that obscenity is so overwhelming to the (sane, civilized) human mind that no subsequent refinement can be sufficient to eliminate it from consideration. That being the case, any claim that a handgun design is intended for self-defense is obviously a deliberate and malicious deception.

Of course, nobody expects any less from corporations engaged in assisting murderers for profit. You may note that the major handgun manufacturers are all American as well.

No OneJune 18, 2012 3:54 PM

Ugh, I really should just wear my NOMEX and wait it out this time, but I have to respond to this one.

@anonymous moose: Nuclear weapons are designed to kill thousands to millions of people indiscriminately at once. Firearms, on the other hand, require you to target a single person and, barring certain extremes of luck or skill, are unable to kill more than one person at a time. This makes them thousands of times more safe than nuclear weapons.

@Dan Dravot, re: "gun culture" -- If you actually look into this you'll find that murders with firearms are far more often perpetrated by those in cultures that lack a legal gun culture or any training at a young age around gun use and safety. Yes, this one time in Colorado 44 people and two perpetrators were harmed by guns and Colorado is fairly gun friendly. L.A., however, has a homicide rate in the hundreds per year and is definitely not a gun friendly area. The vast majority of those murders, when perpetrated with a firearm, are by gang members who live in a culture of /illegal/ gun use with no consideration of safety. Slightly different culture there.

In fact what we need more of /is/ legal gun culture because, barring drunk Texans shouting "watch this" with beer in hand, a proper knowledge and understanding of guns usually cultures a healthy requirement of safety when dealing with firearms. It's this lack of proper instruction that yields teenagers who think of guns as nothing but do-all problem solvers at a range.

Beyond that, when talking about school shootings specifically, guns are used in the murder of less than one student per year. This is less than so many other things including, for example, alcohol which, as far as I can tell, has no better use than guns as both are excellent for recreational purposes when used properly and lethal when used improperly. So why is the Brady campaign so insistent on removing guns from the world when removing alcohol would be far more effective at saving lives?

Bob TJune 18, 2012 4:17 PM

So all cats have to register and not live within a mile of pigeon coops?

No OneJune 18, 2012 4:21 PM

@Bob T: Hey, if the cats are still a danger to birds even after they've supposedly been rehabilitated they should just be kept under lock and key to protect the birds. I don't think registering them is really going to do much to help the birds.

oJune 18, 2012 4:32 PM

@ Average American: "Hand gun" (or maybe "handgun" without the space is more cromulent) != "gun".

If you're shooting deer & pheasant with it, you're doing it wrong. Or the deer's doing it wrong, for letting you get close enough...

Carl 'SAI' MitchellJune 18, 2012 4:42 PM

@Dan Dravot
"Since guns require no skill to use..."

I'm sure the contestants in the shooting contests at the Olympics (and other tournaments) would have some issues with that statement.

Guns have a low skill floor, and a high skill ceiling. Getting a gun to fire takes very little skill, and hitting a stationary target at close range is easy. Hitting accurately and at longer ranges rapidly becomes difficult.

rANDYJune 18, 2012 4:54 PM

i'm from Oklahoma where gun control means you can hit your target. lots of idiots have guns, few know how to use them.

JonJune 18, 2012 5:21 PM

A toddler can - and has - killed with a firearm.

Relatively few people would be physically capable of killing anyone with a criket bat, even if they were highly motivated.

kingsnakeJune 18, 2012 5:24 PM

Many people believe Prince Philip is a bit batty.

(Sorry, could not resist the pun ...)

BlackadderJune 18, 2012 5:32 PM

An armoured car driver in Canada went bezerk and shot 4 other armoured car employees the other day. They were all armed. Guess the 'gun free zone' arguement doesn't work

cleekJune 18, 2012 6:09 PM

Imagine someone walking through the next kindergarten with a chainsaw....

no need to. guns are easier to get, easier to conceal and more efficient at killing.

GweihirJune 18, 2012 6:23 PM

This is the usual excuse.

Banning guns does not serve to prevent people from killing others, it serves to reduce the number of people one person can easily kill. Said cricket player is running a pretty good chance to not get beyond one or two victims. A person with a gun can easily kill 10 or more people, as fighting back is very difficult against guns and guns are a tool optimized for killing with low skills.

Seems to me Prince Philip is not very smart.

RationalJune 18, 2012 6:29 PM

I always find it odd that such learned people can be so intolerant. You want to see carnage? Real carnage? Just pray that the people who are inclined to acts of mayhem don't take your advice and walk into a school with a bic lighter and a gallon of gasoline, now that will be carnage (oh goodness! how concealable is a bic lighter and a "water bottle" of gasoline? - oops! too much reality there!). Agonizing, life long, pain and misery. Or just drive one of these mega-pickup truck thru the school room. Or...the list is endless. Had these schools not disarmed competent personnel (veterans, trained persons), these tragedies would have been stopped in their tracks. Until you lobotomize the entire human race, feel free to send YOUR children to a warehouse with no way to protect them other than wishful thinking, me? I'll home school mine and teach them to protect themselves and others (please have your kids wear something that stands out, like an arm band, so my kids won't infringe on their rights by protecting them). If you dream of being a victim, be enough of a "...liberal..." to allow me to pursue my dream of NOT being a victim.

HeronJune 18, 2012 6:32 PM

It isn't a presumption that people are too childish to use guns responsibly, it is an acknowledgement of the fact that it is far easier to kill people with a gun than probably anything else you can get your hands on. This is particularly the case with handguns, which beyond being small enough to easily conceal, can't hide behind the "meant for hunting" canard.

Having said that, I don't think you really need to ban guns, per se. Switzerland, Canada, and the Nordic states all have much lower gun fatality rates than the US while still allowing them to be legally purchased. It seems to me there must be a happy medium between making guns so easy to obtain that anyone who wants one seems capable of getting one, and passing laws that mandate guns must be kept dismantled in a locked safe at all times.

NobodySpecialJune 18, 2012 7:25 PM

Ironically a week after the politicians had finished congratulating themselves on a post Dunblane gun ban so strict that the olympic .22 shooting team had to train abroad - a man with a machette walked into a nursery school and injured a number of kids and IIRC killing the teacher

RoboticusJune 18, 2012 8:07 PM

@ Dan Dravot
"You may note that the major handgun manufacturers are all American as well. "

Except for Glock (Austrian), Beretta (Italian), IMI (Israeli), H&K (German) and many others.

"And don't give me any nonsense about handguns which are claimed to have been designed for self-defense. Firstly, "'self-defense' is a logical contradiction to begin with, since defense is only legitimate when officers of the law defend others; the law of all civilized nations recognizes this fact. "
Really? Unless "All civilized nations" have omnipresent and omniscient law enforcement that is physically impossible.

Matt from CTJune 18, 2012 8:10 PM

>Really? REALLY? Not even considering
>that the chances of battering
>seventeen people to death with a
>cricket bat in a school without being
>stopped are incredibly slim?

Given the training in some, I suspect the vast majority of, schools is...no, it's not incredibly slim.

One would do so with all the ease of clubbing baby seals.

The primary difference it would make is it would be easier for the an American police officer to deal with someone with a baseball bat then someone with a gun. In the UK given most officers are unarmed, a single officer would be on a level playing field again with the cricket bat wielder.

One of my nieces (a teacher) described their training -- which is to gather the students as a group and cower in the corner.

To which one of her second graders, quite correctly, stated, "Doesn't that make us an easier target for a gun man?"

Why yes, yes it does. But heaven forbid we should actually teach people to defend themselves. She, doing her best, had to just shrug and go with the party line of their training.

Heck it took REPEATED "Active Shooter" incidents before we stopped teaching the police to cower and hide behind their cruisers and wait for specialist teams.

Tamara BensonJune 18, 2012 9:02 PM

Oh Prince Phillip, that was my Father's argument for a long time: have you ever seen how gruesome it is when people kill with a knife or an arrow?

Guess where I grew up: Texas.

My Father also said that feminism began with the invention of the Colt.

I grew up believing that a gun could make me safer—now I know that introducing a gun to any situation dramatically ups the chances of me, or someone else, being killed.

Numbers show that guns do kill more people and more often. It's just too easy, it's just too convenient; it’s far too easy for things to happen too fast to process. And having access to automatic weapons just increases the danger.

Kids, fights with spouses, emotional situations, the kind of situations that might calm if given the time, can be ruined in a second by a gun.

It's hard to imagine a Texas woman saying anything anti-gun, but the numbers tell the story: Guns are very dangerous. I'd stand a better chance with a Cricket bat and take those odds any day. :) (Don't hit me!)

I've been hoping to map the last few years of gun violence in the US and World. I think there is a pattern. Something is driving people crazy, and guns are making crazy behavior a heck of lot easier. But why are so many people going crazy? I think our cultures are driving people bats. There’s a good PhD thesis.

Growing up I never heard of so many mass shootings. You could say media coverage and information didn’t spread so fast back then, but I suspect it’s something else.

Now that we live in a culture of constant fear, despite being safer than ever, it’s time to do the numbers and find out what our best chances are for survival. Guns are not it. Thinking fast and acting decisively are probably better skills to acquire: distract and run.
Enjoy your popcorn, this is going to be fun!
Tamara


pfoggJune 18, 2012 9:56 PM

I assume that in 1996 Prince Philip intended this as a reductio ad absurdum argument, and The Independent's inclusion of the quote in a list of 'ninety gaffes' implies their opinion is that argument itself is absurd.

Now we have the TSA, who have actually banned cricket bats....

AmbivalentJune 18, 2012 10:26 PM

I am planning on buying a Glock G26 and getting a concealed carry permit soon.

I don't like guns, and I don't want to ever use one. I would rather not own one, and I would rather not walk around with one.

But when every f***tard and criminal out there has access to one, and does not respect my life or that of my loved ones, I see no choice but to own one and carry one.

I grew up in a country which pretty much bans guns. The whole country is a gun-free zone pretty much. Violent crime is low there.

But the US is different. It has a different culture. And our law enforcement are not pre-cogs. They show up after a crime, not before. So better be armed.

TimewasterJune 18, 2012 10:28 PM

The poster claiming guns require no skill, demonstrates only that he's pontificating where he knows nothing. The fact is that considerable skill is required, but even attempting to explain that is a waste of time while he has his Dunning-Kruger deflector shields engaged.

The poster who states that "guns are designed solely to kill people," while squawking about basic logic, owes me a new irony meter. He's 100% right except for "solely", "kill", and "people." They have other purposes, such as hunting and target shooting, so not "solely." Target shooting doesn't kill, and even defensive use usually doesn't involve killing--in fact when a cop intentionally points his gun at someone and shoots them, 75% of the time nobody dies. Nevertheless it serves its purpose far more than 25% of the time, since the purpose was to stop the attack, not to kill the attacker. So not "kill." And it can be used to defend against pit bulls, so not "people." Good luck with that elementary logic thing.

Interestingly, the poster who claimed "no skill" is needed, came near a truth: very little upper-body strength is needed, nor that much stamina--which is why a woman can easily learn to use one effectively against a man who has 100 lbs on her. Eliminating firearms from the universe would not eliminate crime, nor much affect the rate. It might hamper the effectiveness of a given murder attempt, granted. But it would absolutely render the average woman more or less defenseless against the average male attacker, as well as the elderly, infirm or handicapped.

SMJune 18, 2012 10:47 PM

Those who believe that cars, blades, clubs, or small amounts of gasoline are just as lethal as guns are welcome to provide examples in the last 30 years where a lone manic killed five or more people with one in a country with modern hospitals. Until then, I will continue to treat this as another meaningless talking point.

JonJune 18, 2012 10:50 PM

"But it would absolutely render the average woman more or less defenseless against the average male attacker, as well as the elderly, infirm or handicapped."

I love this trope. It's one of those 'obvious' things that 'everyone knows' and 'everyone agrees with'.

Except when asked to prove it's truthiness and relevance, those proponents inevitably flounder.

Daniel ScheallerJune 18, 2012 11:13 PM

Obviously all analogies break down eventually. But I think this one is particularly bad.

If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?

I think the Prince either underestimates how difficult it is to batter 'a lot of people' to death with a cricket bat, or overestimates hos difficult it is to use a gun for the same purpose.

Just think about it: Take every gun-related massacre or murder that has ever happened. Take the guns out of the hands of the perpetrators, and replace them with cricket bats.

The death count wouldn't be zero, but I daresay it would go down a lot.

Which indicates that cricket bats aren't as potentially dangerous as guns.

That's a very relevant point for contradicting this particular analogy.

The arguments in favor of gun control are all to do with not just the capacity for misuse, but how large the impact of that misuse is.

Pointing to something that is clearly not as dangerous as a gun, but still has the capacity for misuse, and saying 'see, you wouldn't ban that less dangerous thing over there - therefore, you should not ban this significantly more dangerous thing over here' is something of a non-sequitur.

Cards on the table: I'm strongly rooted to the view that gun ownership should be tightly regulated with the need for regular certifications and re-testing to maintain that certification, and furthermore to be restricted to where the ownership is for legitimate purposes.

I'm somewhat in favor of the notion that 'self-defense' should not be on the list of legitimate purposes. But not as strongly. I'm open to being convinced out of this position by a strong argument.

If the Prince's comments were to be interpreted as an argument, it wouldn't be anywhere near strong enough to convince me for the problems listed above.

Daniel ScheallerJune 18, 2012 11:17 PM

Actually, just stumbled on a memory.

As a pre-adolescent, I was very, very clumsy. I was also nearsighted, but didn't realize it at the time. This made me somewhat useless at playing school cricket.

One of the less proud memories from my childhood was failing to hit a bowled tennis ball with the bat more than ten times in a row, and being teased and mocked for it... And then throwing a tantrum.

I struck the ground with the cricket bat, and it broke apart the handle from the surface.

It was surprisingly easy to break the bat... So I assume that if I were to run through a crowded area striking people with a bat with the view to killing them, it probably wouldn't be that long until the surface broke away from the handle again.

Not really all that effective as a weapon.

QnJ1Y2UJune 18, 2012 11:55 PM

Not surprisingly, this debate has moved into emotional territory very quickly. Here's a thought that may be a bit more on-topic for this blog:

Mass shootings are very rare; they have more of the characteristics of terrorist attacks than street crime. Therefore, a number of the same axioms we use to determine the best security reaction will apply.

One parallel, for example: prevention is more effective than reaction. Gathering intelligence on terrorist activities is going to do more good than trying to stop everything at the end point. Similarly, detecting psychologically-disturbed individuals before they start shooting may work better than waiting to react when the bullets are flying.

Like all analogies, there are limits and mismatches, but discussing them should be more fun than rehashing gun debate talking points.

TedJune 19, 2012 12:04 AM

To SM @June 18, 2012 10:47 PM
:::::::::::::::
Those who believe that cars, blades, clubs, or small amounts of gasoline are just as lethal as guns are welcome to provide examples in the last 30 years where a lone manic killed five or more people with one in a country with modern hospitals. Until then, I will continue to treat this as another meaningless talking point.
::::::::::::::::::

Check out the "Happy Land" fire of 1990 in New York. 87 Killed when a loser unhappy with his girl friend dumping him use gasoline to set fire to the stair case of a club.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Land_Fire

Does that count?

PHBJune 19, 2012 1:30 AM

Impractical solution:
Constitution = Tyranny of some long dead blokes.
Change it.

Practical intermediate compromise:
Research characteristics of rifles when constitutional clause created.
Create analogous private citizen gun ownership law.
I intend this to boil down to single shot long barreled rifles and shot guns that take a long time to manually reload.

This compromise greatly increases the ability of brave jocks to tackle a maniac during reloading, and removes the concealed weapon element.

PeterJune 19, 2012 3:38 AM

@Daniel Schealler, if you were playing with a tennis ball it's quite possible that you were using a bat which hadn't been knocked in. When you buy a cricket bat it is indeed very vulnerable to snapping: if you intend to play with a proper cricket ball you must first spend a few hours tapping your new bat with a ball-on-a-stick to compress the wood and strengthen the bat.

SLJune 19, 2012 4:23 AM

"Presuming that all people in a country are too lacking in self control and maturity to handle a gun is just like presuming the same thing about a cricket bat, or a baseball bat, or an automobile."

Nonsense. It's not "just like" at all.

This isn't a black and white issue. This is a security tradeoff, of exactly the sort Schneier is always describing. A tiny minority of the population do not in fact posess the self control and maturity to handle a weapon. The security decisions trade off the results of that against the results of a blanket ban on posession of the weapon. It would take a very special kind of pro-gun advocate to extend their reasoning to machine guns, RPGs, Davy Crocketts... so the idea of a blanket ban on some kinds of weapons per se is not actually at issue, we're just debating where exactly to draw the line. The deciding factor is clearly "how much damage can the weapon do when misapplied?" and the difference between guns and baseball bats is *exactly* the sort of criterion by which we ultimately decide the issue.

royal RFID CHIPPED familyJune 19, 2012 4:52 AM

"If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat,which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?"

OMG!! TERRORIST PLOTTING? ARREST THIS MAN!!

Mog_XJune 19, 2012 4:54 AM

@Michael Brady "Said the man with round-the-clock bodyguards who travels by armored limo or military helicopter" -
Prince Phillip had quite a distingushed career in the Royal Navy during WW2 so didn't always have the protection he now has as consort to the head of state - would you prefer your First Lady to take the bus?

competitive_shooterJune 19, 2012 6:12 AM

@all,

I doubt a lot of you that are saying a gun is easy to use have ever fired a handgun. Why are those of you who are commenting on something's difficulty when you have nothing to base that 'fact' on other than some poor reasoning?

I pistols competitively in a few different formats. Its not as easy as it looks. Whoever thinks using a handgun requires no skill is false. People I see at public ranges with 0 experience or training with firearms often have a hard time hitting a man size target at 5 meters. With the exception of large hunting/woodsman revolvers, and Desert Eagles, handguns are very weak in comparison to a long gun. The "powerful" handguns mentioned are typically very large and hard to conceal. I think a lot of you are buying into the crap you see in the movies with people getting shot and flying back 3 feet or instantly dying. As grim as it sounds, go to youtube and watch some videos of real shootings.

A person should have the right to preserve their life from an attacker. Not everybody is physically able to do that. Tasers have limited range and one shot (think 2 or more attackers) and pepper spray isn't always effective. Guns are the best tool for the job.

Guns are good for the security of the population and the state. If the state grants people basic liberties such as speech, religion, etc, than guns in the hands of the people gives the state a free and willing (as in beer) militia if it were to be invaded. They are good for the people because it keeps the state in check. Do you think North Korea would be in the state it is in if the people had the means to resist their government? Maybe, maybe not. I do know they can be sent to a labor camp for not crying about the death of their "Great Leader." They don't have much to lose. People with nothing to lose are very formidable opponents. I don't want to hear anything about what good is a hunting rifle against a stealth bomber. You are assuming that the military members of such state would comply and not defect. Also consider the population that has military experience that will have good intelligence on the military they are resisting. By good intelligence I mean capabilities, training quality, weaknesses, locations of sensitive targets, policies, procedures, communication methods and abilities, and the list goes on.

There is a weapon that has caused far more damage than a gun. It was an airplane. Lets not forget about the Oklahoma City bombing. What about recently in Russia where a suicide bomber blew up the checkpoint line? Lets ban bleach and ammonia while we are at it. I could pay cash for large quantities of each at different stores and mix them together in a buildings ventilation system. There are tons of ways to kill lots of people with readily available items. A gun is not the only method used to commit mass murder, it seems other ways are forgotten about when gun control comes up or it is the chosen method.

Nut jobs are always going to find ways to kill a lot of people.

Adam DJune 19, 2012 6:20 AM

In a debate about British gun law, it's important to remember there're a lot of cultural differences between the UK and the US. Here's a few relevant ones:

- Even before the Dunblane shootings, gun ownership was *very* rare in the UK, much more so than in the US.
- British police have never routinely carried firearms except for very recently around high-profile targets.
- Because there are so few legal guns in circulation, and the ones that are are so tightly controlled, a good proportion of illegal guns recovered by the police are converted starter pistols; still deadly, but inaccurate and unreliable.
- The weapon of choice is still the knife; stabbings are orders of magnitude more common than shootings. A shooting can still make national news even if nobody was injured.
- Under UK law, you only have the right to use "reasonable force" to defend yourself or your property. Using *any* weapon in self-defence can cross this line, absent mitigating factors such as infirmity or the other person having a weapon. This is true even in your own home.

atkJune 19, 2012 7:08 AM

@Dan Dravavot: Do you forget that darts and javelins are weapons, designed to kill? The excuse that they are used in sports flies as far as guns being used in sports. The excuse that they require skill flies as far as guns requiring skill. Ancient man used javelins and darts. Drunk men in pubs ise darts.

And you can buy these weapons of death at any sporting store! We must end the javelin and dart cultire! Nobody needs javelins or darts! we must get rid of them!

competitive_shooterJune 19, 2012 7:17 AM

@Adam D,

Good point regarding cultural differences. The problem with "reasonable force" is it is highly subjective. If I am defending myself, I have no idea how far you plan on taking things. How does UK law handle disparity of force? For example, what if I ,an able bodied person, attack someone in a wheel chair? Can that person use a weapon to defend themselves? How do they know if I am planning on killing them or not?

The attacker chooses to put themself in harms away. The defender doesn't. Also as a utlitarianist, I think people defending themselves with weapons is better for the greater good than giving the attackers the upper hand.

David R JenkinsJune 19, 2012 7:43 AM

To SM @June 18, 2012 10:47 PM
:::::::::::::::
Those who believe that cars, blades, clubs, or small amounts of gasoline are just as lethal as guns are welcome to provide examples in the last 30 years where a lone manic killed five or more people with one in a country with modern hospitals. Until then, I will continue to treat this as another meaningless talking point.
::::::::::::::::::

An 89-year-old man whose car hurtled through a farmers market, killing 10 people...

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-2200813.html

This guy wasn't a maniac, but he did manage to kill more people than many car bombers.

RalphJune 19, 2012 7:58 AM

It seems to me that a large part of the problem in the US is revenge culture, not 'gun culture' per se. Availability of handguns and automatic weapons only serves to make the consequences worse.

LinkTheValiantJune 19, 2012 8:05 AM

Discussions of firearms control online are pointless except as a traffic generator. People aren't going to change their viewpoint on a topic that can carry such emotional weight based on a charged online discussion.

You CAN change a person's view on firearms in person, but that's a far different situation.

beermachtJune 19, 2012 8:17 AM

If the point of owning firearms is to create a 'militia' then judging by syria, libya and iraq you'd better get anti AC missiles, tanks, and artillery because your militia is going to get owned with just sidearms. Should also be noted your neighborhood is likely to turn you in to prevent retribution and collect a reward.

AutolykosJune 19, 2012 8:22 AM

I don't think gun control can actually achieve what it tries to do. We have pretty strict laws about this in Germany. Unless you're hunter, policeman or practice regularly in a shooting club - and participate in official tournaments, you can't legally own guns, period. Self-defense is not considered a valid reason (unless you're rich and powerful, see below). Your license can get revoked with a simple speeding ticket.
Carrying guns (except for unloaded and in a locked case) requires a license you can only get if you're police, military or rich and powerful with lots of connections.
We have roughly the same number of legal and illegal firearms in the country (about 14 million each IIRC), and changing the rules either way would probably only shift the numbers from one category to the other.
On a side note, almost no crimes whatsoever are committed with legal guns, and the vast majority of illegal guns is never used in crimes, either - except for the act of possessing it, of course. So we're denying a lot of people the right to own guns that actually use them responsibly, while making it easy to acquire guns for criminals (because there are plenty legitimate reasons to want an unregistered gun, and many people understand this). That can't be the right solution.

SMJune 19, 2012 9:37 AM

Ted and David: Those are two (although it looks like the Happy Land arson depended on the target being an overcrowded space with one exit and no fire suppression, so -any- fire was going to resemble the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster). Can you find any others? A maniac stabbed five people to death in Jersey in August 2011, and another killed eight in Osaka in June 2011, but those are the only knife attacks I can find where a lone attacker killed five or more in a country with an effective medical system.

NZJune 19, 2012 9:44 AM

@Dan Dravot

>Firstly, "self-defense" is a logical contradiction to begin with, since defense is only legitimate when officers of the law defend others
>Secondly, the original design of handguns was intended solely for the purpose of murder
This seems to apply equally well for martial arts. So if someone is proficient with karate, may he has to walk around with his hands tied? Remember, he can maim you with a single hit.

>You may note that the major handgun manufacturers are all American as well.
Now, this is an insult :) (Just kidding) IzhMash, IzhMeh, Tula Arms Plant...

@Gweihir
>fighting back is very difficult against guns
It tends to be especially difficult when you don't have an opportunity to shoot back.

@Tamara Benson
>Growing up I never heard of so many mass shootings.
Were the gun laws more strict at that time or not?

@Ambivalent
>I grew up in a country which pretty much bans guns. The whole country is a gun-free zone pretty much. Violent crime is low there.
I grew up (and still live) in a country which pretty much bans guns. Everyone can easily obtain illegal, more or less military grade weapons, and most criminal do. Violent crime is high.

@Timewaster
As they say "God created men. Colonel Colt made them equal"

@SM
A serial killer?

@PHB
You forgot the most important part: "make sure criminals do not carry modern firearms"

P.S. "Guns don't kill people. I do" (c) The Postal Dude.

NZJune 19, 2012 9:52 AM

@Autolykos
28M guns in total. Last time I checked the population of Germany was around 80M. I.e. more than one in three is actually armed.

competitive_shooterJune 19, 2012 10:12 AM

Here are good one liners:

When seconds count, police are minutes away.
I can't carry a cop in my pocket.

@beermacht,

Sidearm = handgun. As I mentioned earlier handguns are rather weak firearms. Depending on the quality of the handgun, handguns are accurate to about 50 meters with a very skilled shooter, 10 with an unskilled shooter, and 25 with an average shooter. "Service caliber" handguns such as 9mm, .45ACP, etc. have a muzzle energy(K.E. of the projectile as it leaves the barrel) of approximately 500J. A 12 gauge slug as a muzzle energy of about 3000J. A .308 winchester (7.62x51mm NATO) has about 2600J. A .223 remington (5.56x45mm NATO) has about 2100J. See the pattern. An average marksman with a rifle can hit a man size target very consistently at 200m and do a lot more damage than a handgun.

One well hidden individual can easily drop half a dozen soldiers from 200M with a run of the mill rifle before anyone figures out where the shooter is coming from. As far as tanks, artillery, etc goes, a militia isn't going to fight a conventional war. If the militia is fighting their own government refer to my comment earlier about military veterans being part of said militia. A few dozen veterans in a militia could do a LOT of damage from simply having insider information. If the militia knows radio frequencies and jam the government soldiers signals, calling in air or artillery support is a bit tough isn't it? Lets not even get started on the sabotage potential a militia with veterans would have.

Take the time to read the art of war. Intelligence wins wars.

competitive_shooterJune 19, 2012 10:20 AM

I forgot to mention the point that using indirect fire such as artillery against a militia fighting a revolution is a terrible tactic. It carries the risk of generating support for the militia. The militia won't be the ones killing civilians with artillery and missiles. The government forces will be. Especially in populated areas. You are also destroying your own infrastructure. Even precise munitions such as missiles will do a lot of damage to your own infrastructure.

Adam DJune 19, 2012 11:18 AM

@competitive_shooter:

"Reasonable force" is indeed subjective, but the concept in UK law has been fairly well defined through the courts. The Crown Prosecution Service has produced a short guide on the subject. To quote: "You are not expected to make fine judgements over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment. So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully" and "if, for example, having knocked someone unconscious, you then decided to further hurt or kill them to punish them; or you knew of an intended intruder and set a trap to hurt or to kill them rather than involve the police, you would be acting with very excessive and gratuitous force and could be prosecuted."

There are some anomalies through case law. Throwing a punch may be excessive, depending on the circumstances, but I've been told anecdotally that pushing someone never is, and there's no provable difference between a strong push and an open-palm strike.

The utilitarian flip-side to your argument is that, because a burglar in the US knows it is reasonably likely a householder will be armed, and will shoot to defend their property, the burglar is more likely to carry a gun and shoot first. In the UK, while my more limited rights to defend my property means a burglar may escape with my stuff, I'm much less likely to be shot if I surprise or confront the burglar.

ShaunJune 19, 2012 11:38 AM

@William, re: Shaun of the Dead and the possible incitement for cricket bat violence.

No, No. Doesn't count. Those were Zombies

:)

Christopher June 19, 2012 12:26 PM

@Dan Dravot

Your assertion about all mass shootings having occurred in Gun Free Zones is factually incorrect. I know of three mass shooting incidents off the top of my head that involved armed persons other than the shooter:

  • 1997 at a High School in Pearl, MI. Two killed and 7 wounded while a staff member fetched a gun from their car
  • 2002 Appalachian School of Law, 3 killed while two students retrieved guns from their cars
  • 2007 at a church in Colorado Springs, 4 dead (I think) before a parishioner shot the gunman.
  • Maybe you define "mass shootings" as greater than a half dozen, but then I disagree with you that we've had an "implausibly fortunate coincident" that there haven't been any such incidents. That seems more like a selection bias to me.

    ProGunJune 19, 2012 12:29 PM

    -

    "the burglar is more likely to carry a gun and shoot first."

    Actually, no. Carrying a gun greatly increases the minimum sentence when the burglar is eventually caught, to say nothing of other drawbacks. Whereas a homeowner would rather the burglar fled than shoot him. The paperwork and legal expenses are just staggering, to say nothing of the steep cleanup costs. Blood soaks into everything! You have to replace the flooring and walls.

    Though when said burglars also want to rape your wife and daughter and maim or kill you and your sons, all those expenses no longer seem quite so steep.

    -

    "We in the United States have been implausibly fortunate coincidence that all of the mass shootings in schools and on campuses have taken place in gun-free zones."

    There have been plenty of "mass" shootings in non-gun-controlled areas. It's just rare for them to get a noticeable body count.

    Media outlets don't give much coverage to such occurrences, frequently downplaying the role an armed populace plays. Its a backpage blurb at best. So you have a selection bias against hearing about them. But if you dig around a little, you will find tens of thousands of first-hand accounts scattered across the web.

    -

    "Growing up I never heard of so many mass shootings."

    Dig a little further. It was just as bad if not worse back then. But the papers didn't hype the hell out of such tragedies to sell advertisements. Nor did you get such thorough coverage of tragedies happening thousands of miles away.

    What's changed is the "news" as a money making enterprise.

    -

    "Those who believe that cars, blades, clubs, or small amounts of gasoline are just as lethal as guns are welcome to provide examples"

    9/11 would seem to be a good example.

    Or the 30,000 to 40,000 people we kill on our highways EVERY SINGLE YEAR?

    Any major bombing? Oklahoma City?

    Any serial killer?

    -

    "A weapon has to be simple to use, which to me means it must be accurate, reliable, and quickly used."

    Hand grenades match your criteria far better. Or pipe bombs. Or Molotov Cocktails. Or gasoline, road flares, and a squirt bottle. Or chemical weapons. Something as simple as Clorox and Ammonia is just nasty.

    All of these lack the many drawbacks of firearms. They have better range, they are easily concealed, they are easier to deploy, they are far more accurate, they are far more deadly, they attack groups or crowds rather than single individuals, and they can be obtained or manufactured trivially without all the legal hurtles of firearms. Granted, it's easier to carry 100 bullets than 100 bombs, but 1 bomb can kill a lot more people than 1 bullet.

    Yes, guns are ranged weapons. But it's not an infinite range. At 50 feet it's quite hard to hit your target with a handgun. Someone who's really exceptionally skilled might manage 75 feet. Most folks will have difficulty at 25 feet. (Bolted to a benchrest your handgun may be accurate to a further range, but there are substantial limits as to what humans can hit when they're holding the gun.)

    Even at a distance of, say, merely 4 times the height of your target, accurately and reliably hitting a human being is far from trivial. A shift in aim, right/left or up/down, by just a fraction of a degree is the difference between killing someone and really pissing them off.

    There's a lot to shooting accurately. You need to pull the trigger just right to get your shot off without letting your movements or the recoil alter your aim (far from trivial), you need to control your posture to transmit the recoil energy up your arm and into your body properly (otherwise you're going to "kiss the barrel" - Ouch!), you need to control your breathing, you need to time the shot against your heartbeat (which throws off your aim considerably), etc. I've known folks to take up swimming just to lower their resting pulse rate so they could improve their shooting accuracy. When you're in the "shooting" zone, you are just so focused. It's almost meditative.

    The equipment itself is quite complex. There are lots of complications that get glossed over. Stovepipes during the casing ejection, casings ejecting down your shirt (very hot, very painful burns), bullets splintering on the feed ramp, jams, misfires, hangfires, ... Ever get a bullet ring in your barrel? Simple hangfires can be fun in a revolver if you've gone on to the next round. (Boom!) Or in a semi-automatic if it goes off while you're ejecting the round. (Ouch!) Hey, just touching or holding the wrong part of the gun, like the top of a semiautomatic or the side of a revolver, while it's firing will take off a good chunk of your hand and a number of fingers.

    If you spend some serious money, like $400-$1000, which for the most part means going through legitimate gun-purchasing channels, and your equipment is of suitably high quality, not some junk Saturday Night Special that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn twice in a row, and you actually have the time to aim, as in 4-5 seconds to aim per shot, and you successfully get a shot off, and you've judged the distance to your target correctly and therefore compensated accurately for the bullet drop, which is significant over merely 50 feet because of how bullets travel in a flattened parabolic rather than a straight line, and you manage to hit your target, well you're still not out of the woods.

    4 out of 5 bullet wounds are not fatal. Even if your shot is fatal, it may not be "immediately" fatal.

    The target, the person being shot at, has an incredible amount of adrenaline running through their body. If your shot doesn't disable them, they are unlikely to even notice they've been shot. On the other hand, having been shot at, they're going to be really pissed at you.

    Take a moment and time just how long it takes you to run 25 feet. It's not long. Humans can sprint quite fast. Most of us can run at least 11 miles per hour. That's over 16 feet per second. Top athletes can run 27 miles per hour. That's almost 40 feet per second.

    It's really quite frightening to realize just how little time you have if you pull a gun before it can be taken away from you. What do you do if your opponent closes in on you? All he has to do is move the barrel of your gun a mere inch or two to the side and you can't shoot him. If you drop your gun then your opponent might grab it. If you keep it then your preferred hand is occupied. You now are engaged in melee with your off-hand.

    I don't recommend charging someone down who has a gun. You will almost certainly get shot. You may die. But it isn't all sunshine and roses when you're the guy with the gun either. Most people think it is. They think a gun is just some magic wand you can wave around and people will obey you. They're wrong. Dead wrong. And that is really quite scary.

    If you are not prepared to use your weapon, and use it immediately without a second thought to take someones life, don't carry a gun. If you carry it, it can be taken away from you and used against you. If you draw it, and the other guy doesn't back down, you have virtually no time, fractions of a second at best, in which to use it or lose it.

    So why would you kill your fellow man?

    Let me tell you about my housemate back in college. Some guy followed her home and forced his way inside. She called 911. It took the cops half an hour to arrive. Hell, she called me, at college. It was a twenty minute ride home and my friends and I beat the cops there by good margin. Scary times.

    Life in this country is not safe. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. I've had my house firebombed while I was inside. I've been robbed multiple times. I've been violently mugged (beaten up then robbed) without warning. One of my friends back in college was kidnapped off the street. (They wanted his ATM codes.) My high school had a sniper open fire on the people in the cafeteria. And we're not talking decayed inner city locations here. Good upscale neighborhoods, the most expensive homes in the city, good schools, this shit still happens.

    Let me tell you, when you're walking home late at night, and a car drives slowly past you and then stops 100 yards ahead of you under the only burned out streetlamp, you have decisions to make. Life or death decisions. The choices you make can have a very profound effect on the rest of your life. I've been there. I've lived through that.

    Nowadays I have a wife. I have kids. When the situation heads south, and inevitably somewhere sometime it will, I can either be at the mercy of my assailant. Or I can kill them. There is no middle ground.

    Some people say shoot to wound. That translates to piss off the guy who is already trying to hurt you. Some people say use Tasers. Read up on Tasers. They can kill too, but far more often they are just completely ineffective. Tear gas? Pepper spray? You're back to pissing off the guy who already wants to hurt you.

    There are a great many weapons at your disposal as a "bad guy". For defense, guns are pretty much it.

    Either you accept whatever the "bad guy" wants to do to you, be it rape, murder, maiming, crippling, whatever. Or you try to kill him. Once you escalate to trying to kill him, he will try to kill you. It would be nice if there was a way to get the "bad guy" to back down. There isn't. Free will and all that. Oh you can offer the option. But if he chooses poorly, well, it's him or me and I pick me.

    -

    This notion that "defense is only legitimate when officers of the law defend others" IS SEVERELY MISTAKEN!

    In point of fact, police officers are never required to protect others. They can choose to just stand there and watch as you are beaten, raped, murdered, crippled, whatever. And there are cases where they have done just that! Citizens asking for protection have been told flat out by judges to "buy themselves a gun".

    Perhaps you've heard of the infamous case of Warren v. District of Columbia? There were these two women upstairs who heard a third woman downstairs being raped. They called the police multiple times. They were told the police were on the way. Half a hour later, when the screaming finally stopped, they thought the police had finally arrived. They were wrong. They went downstairs and only to find themselves attacked, beaten, and raped AGAIN AND AGAIN FOR 14 HOURS! The police never showed up. Now you would think, when they filed legal action against the police, they would win. But they didn't. The police were exonerated.

    This isn't an isolated case. Read up about these things. They're not common, but they do happen. Try starting with:

    http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/kasler-protection.html

    khmsJune 19, 2012 1:02 PM

    @NZ

    28M guns in total. Last time I checked the population of Germany was around 80M. I.e. more than one in three is actually armed.
    You need to read more carefully. One in three - maybe less, as people can own more than one - own arms, but when you meet them on the street, the vast majority is not actually armed. The vast majority of armed people you meet are in uniform.

    @competitive_shooter

    One well hidden individual can easily drop half a dozen soldiers from 200M with a run of the mill rifle before anyone figures out where the shooter is coming from. As far as tanks, artillery, etc goes, a militia isn't going to fight a conventional war. If the militia is fighting their own government refer to my comment earlier about military veterans being part of said militia. A few dozen veterans in a militia could do a LOT of damage from simply having insider information. If the militia knows radio frequencies and jam the government soldiers signals, calling in air or artillery support is a bit tough isn't it? Lets not even get started on the sabotage potential a militia with veterans would have.

    Take the time to read the art of war. Intelligence wins wars.

    I forgot to mention the point that using indirect fire such as artillery against a militia fighting a revolution is a terrible tactic. It carries the risk of generating support for the militia. The militia won't be the ones killing civilians with artillery and missiles. The government forces will be. Especially in populated areas. You are also destroying your own infrastructure. Even precise munitions such as missiles will do a lot of damage to your own infrastructure.

    And that worked so well in Libya, or Syria, say.

    I note in both cases, the government did not hesitate to use heavy weapons such as artillery or bombs against its civilians. In Libya, this was stopped by the NATO, with more heavy weapons. In Syria, NATO doesn't do a thing, and the rebels have a rather hard time stopping those heavy weapons.

    --------------------

    Anyway, I do not think gun control makes much of a difference. Some, sure. But not all that much. If you compare places with high and low rates of gun crime, the largest differences, it seems to me, come from general culture. The US has a culture that has both a large amount of inner pressure (all this 99% vs. 1% stuff, race tensions, and so on), and a strong tendency to accept violence. Stuff like approving mentions of prison rape, water boarding, the way they're much more squeamish about sex in video games than, say, Europe, and much less squeamish about violence in video games, and so on and so forth. Of course, changing that is much harder than changing gun control laws.

    abprosperJune 19, 2012 2:40 PM

    Not much point in discussing the issue American Citizen to U.K. Subject. Our cultures and expectations are far too different .

    Its pretty clear to me that U.K. folk and US folk have different ideas on how freedom should work and given that the only real freedom is being governed by your own people and customs, that's fine with me.

    competitive_shooterJune 19, 2012 2:46 PM

    @khms,

    Gadhaffi(spelling?) is dead. The rebels won whether they had help or not. Lets not forget about the pilot who defected. I'm sure many more would have given enough time. Imagine what they could have done with the training, experience, and intel some defecting Libyan soldiers would have brought. You are right, it seems there is little correlation between gun control laws and violent crime rates. That being said lets not take away the only means the physically handicapped have to protect themselves. Using heavy weapons might put some government soldiers in the position where they can either defect and join the rebels or fire such weapons at areas friends and family live in.

    @ProGun,

    I couldn't have said it better myself. We actually mentioned some of the same things.

    @those pro gun control,

    I'm the gun owning neighbor you don't like living by because I have guns. That is until a rabid animal, violent drug addict, murderous mentally ill person, or other threat most effectively dealt with using hot lead shows up. Remember when seconds count, the police are minutes away, sometimes hours away.

    abprosperJune 19, 2012 3:06 PM

    A couple of reply points,

    o., handgun hunting is common in the US and a great many cartridges are humane and legal used in this role.

    khmss' point about changing the culture, you really can't as there is little common culture to interact with . There is no us in the US as it were.

    The US is not the same culturally, socially or demographically as it was in 1970.

    Its not as literate or skilled and we have huge swathes of the population with marginal skills and no ethnic background in Europe.

    As an example the youth in Texas public schools for example are about now 2/3 Mexican. Detroit is 50% illiterate, huge chunks of the population elsewhere can't read English or Spanish well and do to huge gaps in parental inputs (many of them are fatherless and/or from low investment cultures) and poverty, they are very difficult to educate.

    Essentially you have a huge 3rd world country in a 1st world one. 40 million people on food aid and all that.

    Do to animosity and tribalism (Hispanic vs. Black as much as White vs. Anyone Else) you can't apply Social Democratic notions and repair the areas.

    If you think of the Jamaican Yardies that caused so much trouble in the UK back in the past , make them smarter, better organized, more violent, better armed and you threw in entire cities full of Chavs you'd have a good picture of what they US is like. We have kept this under wraps but its like locking down a pot lid. It sizzles under the surface waiting to boil over as soon as the lock (mass imprisonment in the millions) gets weak.

    This is grafted onto an aging White population with a Wealthy ruling class and a White (and some others) population that is close to being like it was in 1980 only struggling to stay afloat.

    Thats a bad place to try social engineering.

    Also for various reasons guns and ammo sales have been amazing of late, we sold last year more firearms than the 21 largest armies on the planet (14 million NCIS checks plus an unknown umber of legal and illegal private transfers)

    Assuming Obama is reelected I'd guess we will have sold more guns in his term alone than the entire population of the UK or maybe more.

    Thats not a culture that can be easily changed.

    As for ammo, No one knows how much is sold a year its probably in the billions of rounds.

    Joe MamaJune 19, 2012 6:10 PM

    Dan Dravot - "We in the United States have been implausibly fortunate coincidence that all of the mass shootings in schools and on campuses have taken place in gun-free zones. Had the killers not been so restrained, the death toll would undoubtedly have been many times greater. "

    Good God man, you think the VT shooter was "restrained"?? Get help you fool.

    Dirk PraetJune 19, 2012 6:32 PM

    @ Gweihir

    Seems to me Prince Philip is not very smart.

    I think smart is not really the issue. HRH Prince Philip is and has always been an enthusiastic provocateur. Its the kind of behaviour you can expect from someone who by the very nature of his job is not allowed to have a public opinion on anything, and thus reverts to taking a mick at it all.

    JonJune 19, 2012 7:07 PM

    @competitive_shooter at June 19, 2012 6:12 AM:
    "I doubt a lot of you that are saying a gun is easy to use have ever fired a handgun. Why are those of you who are commenting on something's difficulty when you have nothing to base that 'fact' on other than some poor reasoning?"

    I can't speak for @all, but personally I've been in the military for 20+ years, and over that time have done a fair bit of shooting with pistols, rifles, and machine guns ... does that count?

    To use your own reasoning right back atcha; just how many people have you killed - or tried to kill - with a cricket bat? If the answer is zero, why on earth would you think you're qualified to comment here? Full disclosure: I've played a bit of cricket in the past but not tried killing, or even hurting, anyone with a bat.

    I, and I don't think anyone else, have not said that firearms are "easy" to use in an absolute sense. What I have said is that killing someone with a firearm is a lot *easier* than killing someone with a cricket bat, and killing a lot of people with firearms is trivially easier than attempting same with a cricket bat.

    My specific example is that toddlers can, and have, killed with firearms (granted accidentally, but we're taklking about ease here, not intent). I'm not aware of any toddler killing with a cricket bat. Do you refute that?

    I know from personal observation and experience that getting really good with a firearm takes a lot of time and practice, especially when shooting at range or in difficult circumstances. But I also know that any mutton can point a firearm at a crowd and pull the trigger repeatedly, with a high expectation of 'success'. Wading into a melee with a cricket bat isn't going to work out as well.

    Tamara BensonJune 19, 2012 7:34 PM

    @competitive_shooter:
    Trolling and Phishing...shame on you. ;)

    "I doubt a lot of you that are saying a gun is easy to use have ever fired a handgun. Why are those of you who are commenting on something's difficulty when you have nothing to base that 'fact' on other than some poor reasoning?"

    Anyone want a new and updated FBI file? :)

    Tamara BensonJune 19, 2012 7:54 PM

    @NZ

    RE: @Tamara Benson
    >Growing up I never heard of so many mass shootings.
    Were the gun laws more strict at that time or not?

    NZ, Texas has always been a gun culture, so always easy to buy guns without any license or waiting time. Not so sure about the historical status of automated weapons, that probably changed and flourished in recent years.
    But, no, for the past 40+ years it's been a breeze to anonymously buy a handgun in Texas--could even be considered a cultural mandate there.
    Tamara

    Tamara BensonJune 19, 2012 8:08 PM

    I'm enjoying this Schneier Townhall meeting on gun control, it's great to see so much discussion and civil disagreement.

    BUT...did I miss it, or has no one touched the Elephant in the media: Trayvon Martin and the Stand Your Ground law encouraged by ALEC via the NRA?

    Take the first swipe--I believe the gun involved is the ONLY reason Trayvon Martin is dead, and that the law is unnecessary and um, well, crazy.
    I actually believe that most fights need not end with someone dead, despite having grown up in Texas. ;)
    Flame on guys.
    Tamara

    CoyneJune 19, 2012 9:21 PM

    The best example I saw was in Orlando. The news reported that it was a bad day for murders: Two people killed deliberately by cars, two people killed deliberately by guns. At the end, the commentator notes (paraphrased), "We really must do something to regulate guns to prevent all these murders." He was dead serious: It was surreal.

    mcbJune 19, 2012 10:09 PM

    @ mog_x

    Prince Phillip had quite a distingushed career in the Royal Navy during WW2 so didn't always have the protection he now has as consort to the head of state - would you prefer your First Lady to take the bus?

    During Prince Philip's honourable service in the Royal Navy during WWII he was protected by all the armor, armament, and wiles at the disposal of whichever captain he was serving under. He was at no greater or lesser risk than everyone else on board as officers and men made war with powerful killing machines.

    My point is that as a member of a social, political, and economic elite the consort to the Queen is so out of touch with the real workaday world his opinions about crime that affects his wife's subjects should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Unlike the pampered and insular lives of the House of Windsor, in the US many future First Ladies did in fact take the bus, or the El, or drive their own car, or otherwise get around town without a phalanx of gunmen...at least until their husbands became President.

    GabrielJune 20, 2012 12:03 AM

    @Tamara: Trayvon Martin was killed by some pathetic washout who had fantasies of being Dirty Harry. Definitely the irresponsible individual who should not have had a gun on him. But, by the same token, if a man or woman is confronted by someone armed with a knife/gun/bat, and that person is interested in more than money (i.e. kidnapping, rape, torture), then should the innocent victim not have the right to make a choice on how to protect their own body and life? These issues are never black and white. No one should go to jail for a true self defense, but any case must be investigated with due diligence. Stand your ground appears to be a poor attempt to define the issue in black and white terms, although it's also possible it is being abused as a defense as well. I also doubt that SYG is being used as a license to kill, thus inciting murder, as opposed to a defense attempt after the fact, i.e. repealing it will not prevent murder, instead it would eliminate the use as a defense.

    I believe part of the reason why these arguments are so difficult is because the facts are so intertwined with human behavior, which is difficult to explain and categorize. There is always a scenario where a gun on the scene led to a tragic outcome, but then there are scenarios where a gun on the scene prevented a tragedy, or put the cost of the tragedy on the perpetrator instead of the intended victim.

    a name or handle to use on the blogJune 20, 2012 3:05 AM

    Gabriel: Martin was killed by the victim of Martin's violence, in self defence.

    NZJune 20, 2012 6:13 AM

    @ProGun
    >Life in this country is not safe.
    Life is not safe, period.

    @khms
    I should have expressed myself more clearly. Around one in three owns a firearm (and potentially might use it in certain circumstances). Are those laws really "pretty strict"?

    @Tamara Benson
    That's my point exactly: a country (ok, a state) can be OK with weak gun control, so strict laws don't really help.

    >Schneier Townhall meeting
    I feel it's more like "someone is wrong on the internet"

    AtkJune 20, 2012 8:07 AM

    @travon martin topic: it seema rather premature to state what actually happened in that case, since the court case is ongoing and evidence is still being brought forth. Relying on the. Ews media for evidence is rather foolish - especially if you paud attention to the way they shared details. Each media outlet shared first only the accuser's claims - not exactly a balanced approach. Pictures of a 12 year old child were shown of Martin, instead of the 17 year old man he really was. Ehen the defense started providin details, some media outlets chose not to air them (like the black families from he neighborhood who spoke in favor of the shooter)..

    The media can hardly be blamed - they smelled a story and did everything in their power ro share the story. Their biases, like anyone's, blinded to the facts that they thougt were irrelevant. But it is ver important to recognize that this has happend, And that none of us - NONE of us - know the full story.

    wumpusJune 20, 2012 8:54 AM

    link to 6000% increase in baseball bats after London riots http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/09/technology/amazon_riot/index.htm (preview didn't show link).

    Just out of curiosity, do baseball bats have any other use in the UK besides being weapons? They seem to show up on places like fark.com as a weapon of choice. Any idea on the assumed popularity being due to availability or differences in the severity of the law with criminals with baseball bats vs. those with firearms?

    MeJune 20, 2012 9:41 AM

    @Dan Dravot: 'Firstly, "self-defense" is a logical contradiction to begin with, since defense is only legitimate when officers of the law defend others; the law of all civilized nations recognizes this fact.'

    Are you suggesting that if I am in peril and my family is as well, that I have no right to defend myself and my family?

    All because I do not have a badge?

    I would posit that any nation that says that defending my family from a murder is a crime is not, in fact, a civilized nation.

    Then again, reading your other posts, I am pretty sure you are just trolling anyway.

    competitive_shooterJune 20, 2012 9:57 AM

    @Jon,

    I'm sure you are quite proficient with firearms.

    "I To use your own reasoning right back atcha; just how many people have you killed - or tried to kill - with a cricket bat? If the answer is zero, why on earth would you think you're qualified to comment here? Full disclosure: I've played a bit of cricket in the past but not tried killing, or even hurting, anyone with a bat."

    I don't try to kill people. The point is it is just as easy to commit mass murder through a variety of means, just that when its done with a firearm, it turns political. I never said anything about cricket bats. Some nut in France recently went on a rampage. They have strict gun control.

    All was targeted towards those with 0 firearms experience.

    Do you really think an untrained, inexperienced shooter with a handgun is significantly more dangerous than someone with a machete? See above posts by myself and ProGun about other mass murders committed without firearms.

    As far as toddlers go, ya can't fix stupid. Irresponsible parents will always be irresponsible and leave rat poison, knives, and other things toddlers shouldn't have accessible to them.

    @Adam D, Murder is a much more serious crime than breaking and entering. You are assuming the burglar has the upper hand and can shoot the home owner before the home owner can shoot the burglar. You are also assuming that the possibility of being threatened with deadly force isn't a deterrent. A lot of ifs and buts and speculation. I think people have the right to defend themselves against an attacker. Consider the elderly and disabled. The attacker forfeits their rights when they make the decision to commit an act of violence.

    @Tamara, "Anyone want a new and updated FBI file? :)" What does FBI statistics have to do with challenging the reasoning of those with little experience in such matters?

    GweihirJune 20, 2012 2:41 PM

    Fascinating, how the pro-gun nuts still argue otherwise in the face of the glaringly obvious. If find those that say it is difficult to even fire a gun especially hilarious. Sure, some basic knowledge and skills are required, after all, if you want to kill one or two dozen people, reloading becomes an useful skill and if you hit your targets at least part of the time, that helps too. But these are very basic skills and can be learned in an afternoon. Compare that, for example, with archery. An archer is no less deadly than a gun-man, and achieves similar penetration and precision, but takes years of training to do so.

    That said, of course, a difficulty is generating the will to kill. But that is no different than when using other weapons. The difference is just that when you manage it with a gun, you are typically leaving a lot more bodies behind. Stop denying that, it is just an immature fantasy about a "noble" weapon.

    Well, I guess gun-ownership it is not rational, but rather server other purposes, like compensation for some other deficiencies, e.g. inadequate ability to handle fear or a big ego.

    Side note: Trying to fire back is about the most deadly reaction to somebody firing a gun at you. Going for cover and running at the first opportunity are far better for your health. You may also make sure your cellphone works, because the Police arriving will make the gun-men run or at least give him trained opponents with body-armor.

    meJune 20, 2012 6:50 PM

    Kids, I can settle this whole gun thing right now.

    Just give your guns to me.

    Come onnnn...hand 'em over.

    You each get fudgecicles. Now go play on the swings. Good lads, there you go.

    Heh heheh...the little squirts never said a word about my control of fudgecicles.

    ProGunJune 20, 2012 7:27 PM

    And the trolls strike back...

    I guess gun-ownership it is not rational, but rather server other purposes, like compensation for some other deficiencies, e.g. inadequate ability to handle fear or a big ego.

    Jeez man. Is that all you got?

    Try this: Late one night years ago, I heard a car accident just 100 yards down the road from my house. A car had failed to negotiate the tight curve and gone off the road, 10 feet over, 20 down, and the tree he hit was not happy. We investigated. We found blood everywhere, a dead body that had been stabbed more than 80 times and then run over with a car a few times for good measure, and a driver who had fled on foot. It was a rural area. There were only a few homes within a mile of that accident. It was night. Somewhere nearby in the woods was a desperate homicidal maniac.

    It was a little unnerving to go to sleep that night, not knowing if I'd wake up. Or what I'd wake up to. I did live through it. I was lucky. Nowadays I keep a gun. (We eventually learned the killer hitchhiked out of the area. Makes you think twice about picking up a hitchhiker, doesn't it?)

    -

    If find those that say it is difficult to even fire a gun especially hilarious.

    It is not difficult to fire a gun, though you can get very seriously hurt very easily if you don't know what you are doing. (See prior discussion.) Nor is it difficult to load a gun. The difficulty lies in actually hitting something with the bullet. Especially at a range beyond arm's reach.

    I taught my wife to shoot. We had an awful time with the trigger pull issue causing her to completely miss a man-sized target at 20 feet. Even when that was eventually corrected, the bullet-drop issue remained. It's hard to estimate distances sufficiently accurately without extensive practice.

    I've studied archery too. It's a lot easier to acquire the equipment, load, and shoot, though the accuracy/targeting problem is similar in difficulty.

    -

    ...also make sure your cellphone works, because the Police arriving will make...

    Cellphone? You can aim a gun quite well in merely 4-5 seconds if you've had sufficient practice. Can you even get 911 to answer before you're shot? What do you plan to do during the half hour before the police arrive? That is, assuming they arrive at all?

    -

    when you manage it with a gun, you are typically leaving a lot more bodies behind. Stop denying that, it is just an immature fantasy about a "noble" weapon.

    Guns are not "noble weapons". They just level the playing field. When you are up against someone who can bench press 4 times what you can, hand to hand is not going to go well for you. God made men. Colt made them equal.

    What I don't understand is why, if you're sick and depraved and want to kill people, why you'd go for a gun rather than a bomb or arson. Or just run people over with a car. Or put poison in the punch. Or cut throats while they sleep. Or hit them with a hammer while they sleep.

    The list goes on and on. It's not hard to find ways to kill. (Visit a hardware store. Those are some scary places!)

    What is this fascination with guns? Why are they so reviled?

    Part of it seems to stem from a lack of education. People have this Hollywood-esce idea of guns as trivial to use magic "your dead" wands. Part of it seems to stem from the News outlets, who have clearly observable anti-gun bias.

    Personally, I kind of appreciate it. My odds of surviving being shot are quite decent. Not great. Not as good as not being shot. But far better than with bombs or arson or poison or pretty much anything else.

    ProGunJune 20, 2012 7:59 PM

    Upon reflection, I notice that I tend to think in terms of protecting myself and my loved ones from an aggressor. In this situation, accuracy, reliability, portability, small size, stopping power, and equalizing for muscle strength in combat are important. It's not enough to wound my target. I need to disable or kill.

    Others tend to think in terms of some lunatic attacking a crowd. In such a situation, accuracy is not critical. Though unless the lunatic is firing into bleachers, only the folks at the front are in any real danger. Well, unless folks panic, stampede, and trample each other. But without the necessary skill/training, this hypothetical lunatic could easily wind up shooting over folks heads or shooting into the floor. Plus there's a fairly limited range with handguns, so he has to be relatively close to his target.

    Unless you have small isolated groups that your gunman can prey upon sequentially, with rest breaks in between to reload, or unless he has a long-range rifle and he's up in the clock tower, your lunatic will shoot a few people and then reload. At which time sensible survivors should beat the living crap out of him. Or just shoot him. Sadly, far too many of us just pray "Please God, don't let him shoot me after he finishes reloading."

    The other side of the coin here is this false notion that if we somehow eliminate all the guns, all the lunatics will just magically go away. The old "Aww gee, I really wanted to go shoot up a kindergarten. But I don't have gun. I guess I'll go watch TV instead."

    Seriously delusional thinking there folks. It's far too easy for lunatics to kill in other ways. And it's far, far easier to acquire lethal technologies other than guns.

    Andrew BartonJune 20, 2012 11:34 PM

    About the same time as the Prince made his comment, there was an incident in the UK when a man entered a classroom with a knife having declared his intention of doing 'another Dunblane' There were a few injuries before he was subdued but no deaths.

    GabrielJune 20, 2012 11:53 PM

    "Martin was killed by the victim of Martin's violence, in self defence."

    Another poster is correct that this must play out in a court, to determine the facts of the case. Nevertheless, it is not in dispute that Zimmerman pursued Martin, against the advice of the police, and escalating a situation. Typically, self defense does not apply when one is the instigator, and indeed, if the opposite had happened, had Martin killed Zimmerman with a rock, he would likely have had a stronger claim of self defense.

    Known facts:
    1. Zimmerman pursued Martin, causing him to feel threatened, and thus instigating a confrontation. The only living witness is Zimmerman, so his testimony of Martin's actions is suspect since it is his goal to paint himself as a victim.
    2. Zimmerman was carrying a weapon, and by his own words claims that Martin saw it. (Martin's response is what is in dispute.) If one is being pursued by an armed individual who is not a police officer, they can only assume their life is in danger, and may have to make a fight or flight decision. Indeed, knocking Zimmerman back would likely qualify as self defense.
    3. Zimmerman was attempting to play cop, when he was not trained nor occupied as one. This is certainly reckless behavior, and the fact remains that if he had not pursued Martin, then Martin would not have been shot.
    4. Zimmerman has demonstrated himself to be a liar in front of the court, withholding information about financial resources (the defense fund), indeed even falsely testifying to the judge that there was not much money and that he could not access it. This behavior will cause his account of the story to be further doubted.

    No case is a slam dunk, person is guilty. Even Sandusky, who looks damned, cannot be presumed guilty unless the jury returns such a verdict. The Trayvon Martin killing is much hazier, but the circumstances certainly don't bode well for Zimmerman, even if murder 2 might not stick.

    However, all of this is beside the point. It is almost beyond dispute that Zimmerman is the type of person that did not need to be carrying any sort of weapon on him. Indeed, he is the type of person who should have had a restraining order preventing himself from operating as the self appointed neighborhood watchman. He had no training, and clearly overstepped the bounds of a neighborhood watch, which is to observe and report. Nothing more. A civilian should never intervene in a crime in progress if there is no immediate threat to life or limb.

    Also, asserting that Zimmerman was a victim is patently false, requiring one to completely ignore his own actions that contributed to this circumstance.

    Adam DJune 21, 2012 6:49 AM

    @ProGun:

    "Though when said burglars also want to rape your wife and daughter and maim or kill you and your sons, all those expenses no longer seem quite so steep."

    That sounds like a movie-plot threat to me. Do you have any idea how common such a threat actually is?

    I don't have the statistics to hand, but I know in the UK that rape and murder are both overwhelmingly committed by people previously known to the victim, not strangers breaking into someone's house.

    You also wrote "It's far too easy for lunatics to kill in other ways. And it's far, far easier to acquire lethal technologies other than guns." That's a sentiment that's been echoed elsewhere. If you look at countries that have much stricter gun control than the US (eg the UK), while it may be possible to find other ways to kill people, such crimes are still exceedingly rare.

    While the rational and logical ideas might be to use weapons other than firearms, we're talking about situations where people aren't being rational or logical.

    @competitive_shooter:

    "The attacker forfeits their rights when they make the decision to commit an act of violence."

    Not in the UK. This is the big cultural difference here. In the UK, however horrific the crime you're committing, you still have a hell of a lot of rights that are considered inalienable.

    An issue that has cropped up repeatedly is of the police having no obligation to respond. That's not the case in the UK: the police have a legal obligation and duty to respond to reports.

    Also, tangental: "murderous mentally ill person". I don't know statistics for the US, but in the UK people with mental illnesses or disabilities are markedly less likely to commit violent crimes. The violent person with a mental disability is a trope here too, and it's massively damaging to folk who do have mental disabilities.

    @wumpus:

    There's a common game in schools called rounders that's not dissimilar to baseball, and is played with what're essentially short baseball bats. Full length baseball bats? Other than as ornaments, or possibly small-league local baseball teams (I'm not aware of any, but they may exist), I don't think there's much use for them.

    Ownership of most things that could be used as weapons, or even things that are overtly weapons, is not normally a crime in and of itself. Ownership with intent to use as a weapon, even in self-defence, is a crime under UK law, however: that's intent to commit assault.

    Occasionally, I've seen things like cans of pepper spray marketed as "UK legal". They're bogus: unless you're in the police service or armed forces, you have no right to carry something like that in the UK. What you can carry (and plenty of people do) is an "attack alarm": a small device that, when you pull the chain on it, sounds a siren at about 120-140 dB.

    NZJune 22, 2012 4:23 AM

    @Gweihir
    >If find those that say it is difficult to even fire a gun especially hilarious
    Firing a gun is pretty easy, yeah. Firing a gun and not hurting yourself is a bit more tricky. Firing a gun and hitting something is even trickier. Firing a gun and hitting your target...
    >these are very basic skills and can be learned in an afternoon
    You must be a great teacher.

    >it is just an immature fantasy about a "noble" weapon.
    I always thought swords were noble, and "guns are for the weak"

    @ProGun
    >if you're sick and depraved and want to kill people, why you'd go for a gun
    My idea is that if you are armed and they are not (because they observe the laws) you can scare the shit out of them. OK, chainsaw would work pretty good too, but it is unwieldy and range is not good at all :)

    @Adam D
    >Ownership of most things that could be used as weapons, or even things that are overtly weapons, is not normally a crime in and of itself.
    So, carrying a sword is not a crime in the UK, is it?

    @Winston Smith
    Actually, we should ban fork, they are so much more dangerous than knives are: one knife hit is at most one wound, one fork hit is up to FOUR wounds!

    Adam DJune 22, 2012 6:07 AM

    @NZ
    >So, carrying a sword is not a crime in the UK, is it?

    Not per se, except for certain types of sword which are illegal to own.

    Carrying a sword without good reason is illegal. Good reasons might be "I'm on my way to a fencing competition" or "I've just bought it and I'm taking it home".

    How you're carrying it is important too; carrying it in a scabbard on your belt is a bad idea. Carrying it in the locked trunk of your car, or on your back well-wrapped in a bag is fine.

    A friend of mine who does LARP was stopped aggressively by police (as in four officers drove him hard into a wall; he had impressive bruises) for carrying a realistic-looking foam sword in a way that looked like he could draw it easily.

    Once he'd explained it wasn't a real weapon, they helped him repack his bag to avoid it happening again, but the stop was entirely legitimate, and the police would have been well within their rights to have used a tazer or CS spray. Consensus amongst my friends (including the guy himself) was that he was entirely at fault. Imitation weapons are covered by very similar laws to real weapons.

    (I'm very aware of this bit of law, thanks to having hobbies that frequently require me to carry things that can closely resemble real weapons in public.)

    Peter MaxwellJune 22, 2012 7:42 AM

    If I'm not mistaken, the comment quoted from the Duke of Edinburgh was made only a day or so after the Dunblane incident during an interview on BBC News - I remember watching it.

    It was an incredibly insensitive and ignorant thing to say; I know many people who were really angry at him for it (I live in Scotland).

    Ken MJune 22, 2012 8:09 AM

    You are also unlikely to see the news reports include the line "he turned the cricket bat on himself before he could be apprehended".

    Tamara BensonJune 22, 2012 4:36 PM

    Of all the good and thoughtful responses, and all the provocative and zealous responses, I'm sorry, but this one just seemed the very best tonight! :)
    From Ken M:
    "You are also unlikely to see the news reports include the line "he turned the cricket bat on himself before he could be apprehended".

    @Gabriel I concede your points and appreciate your thoughts.
    @Atk Your comments that the case is still in progress are spot on--we'll have to wait and see, and we can't trust that the media coverage gives all the facts.

    @competitive_shooter: it's not a responsible behavior to provoke individuals into macho gun talk at this time in American history--by saying "you don't know how"--your words create an urge in people to tell you all about how they "do too know how!", which perhaps they should just keep to themselves in this fear driven time. Profiling is a dangerous thing these days. And the irony is that anyone who responds that way is probably not who you need to worry about, but they'll end up on some list, probably.
    Sigh.
    Tamara

    Tamara BensonJune 22, 2012 10:41 PM

    Yes, I know better than to keep talking, but, how is it that no one has yet talked about ALEC? American Legislative Exchange Council?

    I never knew they existed and influenced our legislative branch before the Trayvon Martin case. My naive.
    I surely didn't know that the NRA was influencing them, as they influenced Congress.

    How should I be a good citizen when I don't even know of all this under the radar stuff going on?
    Will someone please fund the "Tamara Wants to Know" Super PAC for public information?
    I'm only sort of kidding,
    Despondent over this sad big machinery in our lives,
    Tamara

    GabrielJune 23, 2012 10:26 AM

    @Adam D: this police response to your friend is rather concerning, because he was brutalized without being given a chance to comply. I take it that the police were not armed with a gun as well? It seems that they may have had to overreact due to not being prepared. On the other side, however, I believe many police officers in the US are too quick to shoot. It seems that many jurisdictions treat possible possession of a weapon, by one not involves in any crime, as a license to kill. While I appreciate the risk that police officers must take, I am afraid that they are often offsetting that risk onto the civilian population. An us vs them mentality doesn't help either.

    From differences I have observed in police action on either side of the atlantic, it seems the US and British both need to learn restraint. Additionally, they both need weapons capabilities that are adequate for the reasonably possible threats.

    Adam DJune 24, 2012 1:05 PM

    @Gabriel: the police had Tazers and CS spray, but not guns. Yes, I the police could have given my friend a chance to comply, but I believe he was already breaking the law by carrying an imitation weapon as he was. Using a reasonable amount of force to get him to a wall caused far less disruption for both him and the public than calling an armed police unit in and stopping him at gunpoint, even if it meant he had some bruising.

    NZJune 25, 2012 9:54 AM

    Sorry I messed up my previous post.

    @Adam D
    >Ownership of most things that could be used as weapons, or even things that are overtly weapons, is not normally a crime in and of itself.
    >certain types of sword which are illegal to own.
    Hmm? "some animals are more equal than others"?

    @Tamara
    The Emperor protects.

    @Gabriel
    @Adam D
    I am not a psychologist, but AFAIK fear causes aggression

    Tamara BensonJune 26, 2012 11:28 PM

    Stalemate guys.
    Those who believe the numbers agree that guns do more egregious harm than they prevent, and those that live in fear still want any means necessary to defend themselves against unknown threats.

    This is a tough one. I know what it's like to feel fear and want some type of self defense. I also know that I realized that a gun isn't so likely to help me in a moment of need. A 911 call might help, screaming or running might help, avoiding certain places and times might help.
    Guys, there is no easy answer, but a gun just hasn't proven to be the solution I need. And the potential for it to be used against me or my loved ones has been shown.

    Imagine this scene: I'm in a party dress and heels bringing my infant child home from a party. I'm fussing with the car-seat and the baby--babies are distracting--how is a gun going to help me then and there?

    We all need better protection, or a better plan, without Big Brother cameras that only work in hindsight. And worse if they work in real time. I'll take my chances and avoid dark alleys and fights, and I'll worry a lot more about viruses, trojans, and worms these days.
    Tamara

    Unarmed doesn't mean unprepared.

    Anton SherwoodJuly 14, 2012 7:30 PM

    If the Happy Land killer had used a gun, most of his victims would have survived.

    But never mind that, it's more fun to pick on royal minutiae. Someone said Philip is a Greek who married a German. That's a double standard! Either Elizabeth is British and Philip is Greek, or she's German and he's Danish.

    SeegrasJuly 15, 2012 2:07 AM

    The Problem with weapon-laws is that the people issuing them have no idea what they're talking about.

    And so, the first thing that happened with britains "hand-gun" ban was that a huge mass of muzzle-loading wheel- and flintlock pistols from the 16th to the 19th century were destroyed. A terrible loss of invaluable historic treasure.

    And nobody wants to run amok with a muzzle-loading (needs 20 seconds to reload each shot), maybe even smoothbore (so you can't hit anything above 10 meters), pistol. They're not even popular for suicides.

    in general, most new "gun laws" mean "destruction of historical treasures", and if not that, then at least "banning traditions and historical reenactment".

    Adam DJuly 15, 2012 6:57 AM

    @Seegras: laws being poorly implemented is a reason to put effort into implementing them better next time, not to just give up on laws entirely.

    AnonymouseJuly 15, 2012 7:12 AM

    /backs slowly away from the gun control discussion...

    and moves towards the abortion discussion

    anonJuly 15, 2012 6:00 PM

    I feel at home with guns and can easily light strike anywhere matches at 100 meters (think about that for a few seconds) with shells that I loaded myself, and did some competitive rifle shooting. Launching projectiles along a parabola at 4000 feet/second, at nearly 4 times the speed of sound, is exhilarating. However, I have never carried a handgun because I did not want the responsibility and knew a lot of other people who did carry guns. One of my professors at university always had one under his jacket. Several attorneys and their wives almost always had one in their vehicles or purses. I dated a woman who often carried a gun. Students at the University of Utah took firearms to class; the streets of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Park City, Utah, always felt safe.

    Now, however, I live in California, where almost nobody carries guns and criminals are running amok; women feel intimidated and avoid walking around at night; everyone is afraid of being mugged, beat, etc. I have personally witnessed two muggings in San Francisco. Yes, here physical altercation, or threat thereof, is the norm, not the exception, on the street, at bars or clubs, etc.

    While there was plenty of crime in Utah, it did not take the form of physical violence. Why? Because criminals are afraid of being shot. The 300 lb thug has no chance against a 100 lb man or woman with a Beretta FS92.

    In Utah, criminals know that trying to mug, rape, or burglarize the wrong person will have life threatening consequences. In Utah, criminals do other things, like make meth and create pyramid and pyramid schemes, all of which the smarter people find very easy to avoid.

    Eric S. HarrisJuly 15, 2012 7:36 PM

    A bit tardy here, but this little bit of sincere nonsense (or insincere trolling) simply aches for a(nother) response: "Hand guns are solely designed for killing people".

    If that's true, they shouldn't be in the hands of police or tax collectors, either, as they will use them for their sole purpose, killing people. Which is not nice.

    ddJuly 16, 2012 1:42 AM

    India has the second largest civilian gun ownership in the world but we have never had a gun rampage in campuses so far. Why is that? I think it may be because this is not the wild west and is a more settled country. Civilian gun ownership and a peaceful country are not mutually exclusive concepts. Guns are not to be feared. Guns can protect your lives and the lives of your loved ones.

    Robert LanthierJuly 16, 2012 8:09 AM

    As with many things the problem is not the hardware but the software. Any device can turn into something horrific if there is a bug in the software.

    In all cases of violence the problem is between the floor and the device.

    In Canada we have chosen to licence gun owners which somehow manages a small portion of the risks. But as we can see in the news that is not always efficient.

    Mssrs Smith and WessonJuly 20, 2012 10:34 AM

    Funny how so few people in the UK seem to understand how little banning guns changed anything. Politicians may have biased voting with empty promises, but ...

    Right after Dunblane, the police removed ammunition from Michael Ryan's house for which he had no licence; They also removed a .22 rifle, illegally converted to full automatic for which he couldn’t even get a licence if he tried. Even if he had no legal firearms, he would still have been able to do the same thing.

    Shortly after these fabled bans, a well-known TV presenter was stalked and shot dead on her doorstep with a 9mm handgun (yes, after the gun ban). When questioned on TV about this, a former Police Chief Constable remarked to the effect that in any major city in the UK it was still possible to illegally obtain such a pistol within just a few hours.

    A Scottish Police Chief also remarked that they were recovering dozens of handguns a week in some areas, none of which were ever licenced (and no, these weren’t converted starter pistols, they were real firearms).

    There were also subsequent reports of gang shootouts in london leaving dead bodies in cars or back alleys around clubs. Seems some people still didn't have much trouble getting hold of guns.

    In short, nothing changed!

    Criminals to this day still obtain guns without any problem. One post-ban report even cited police collecting CS gas canisters, SMGs, and even fragmentation grenades from high end criminal gangs. Good for the police, bad news for the politicians who suggested that a gun ban would make the country safer who had trouble explaining this!

    And still we see politicians trying to ban human nature, not to mention trying to make it illegal to be in posession of software security tools in the hope of deterring hackers (which just causes more difficulties for Software Engineers ironically trying to get experience in penetration testing to defeat hackers -- great idea that was.)

    To the person who seems to think that illegal firearms in the UK (which outnumbered legal ones by over 10 to 1 back int the day) are just converted toys, have you ever heard of smuggling or supply and demand?

    Before anyone asks, yes I am British and live in the UK!

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