Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Post

Hey everyone! Following up on the discussion here regarding gun control, I decided to contact representatives of the widely-respected U.K. group, called the Gun Control Network (GCN). You can access their website here:

From the GCN website: "All our activities and objectives are predicated on the belief that the interests of public safety demand a reduction in the availability and attractiveness of firearms of all kinds.  No reasonable person doubts the fundamental connection between the number of guns there are in a society and the prevalence of gun homicide, suicide and accident.

Almost all guns start out legal and there is no clear demarcation between legal and illegal weapons.  Therefore what is needed is legislation to control the availability of legal weapons and law enforcement to control the illegal ones." 

GCN representatives very kindly responded to my email, where I asked them to consider posting on the blog. We both decided it was incredibly important for all the readers of this blog to hear a U.K perspective on this issue, and what we can do to prevent gun violence. The GCN is at the forefront of the battle to reduce injuries, accidents, and deaths by firearms. Some of their objectives involve tightening gun licensing, increasing the license fee to cover the cost of making a more rigorous gun control system, establishing a National Gun Hotline, so people can contact authorities immediately if they feel they are concerned about someone the know with a gun, as well as myriads of other creative solutions to end this problem. 

In the wake of the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, many politicians have been saying that we cannot politicize this horrific event, and that now is not the time for dialogue. I too said this in the days following the shooting. However, now, I realize that it is of utmost importance that we act to tighten gun laws, so that this doesn't happen again. Below is a post written by GCN representative Chrissie. Much thanks is to do Mr. Peter Squires and Georgina of the GCN, for kindly responding to my queries and agreeing to post. Below are Chrissie's comments completely unedited:

"We have been following this blog on the subject of firearms with interest, and would like to offer our comments and UK perspective to this debate. The UK has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world, making it one of the safest places in the world to live, and members of the UK organisation send their sympathy and support to those affected by the tragic shooting in Newton. 

GCN was formed in 1996 following a school gun massacre in Dunblane, Scotland when a gunman entered a school and shot dead sixteen 5 and 6 year old's and their teacher. As a result of our campaign, and with overwhelming support from the public, the media, and Members of UK Parliament, handguns were banned from private ownership in the UK in 1997.

The population of the United States is approximately five times that of the UK. Therefore, it would be expected that the firearms deaths in the United States would be five times greater than in the UK. There were 42 recorded firearms related deaths in the UK in the first half of 2012, and less than half of those were homicides. There are approximately 11,000 gun homicides in the United States every year.

National comparisons show a clear correlation between the number of guns in society and the number of related incidents see

The United States is suffering from an appalling number of gun massacres, but given the number of firearms in private ownership these frequent gun tragedies are not surprising, they are to be expected. This national sickness will not be remedied by endless speculation about the motives of perpetrators, or by arming more teachers, nurses, or shopping mall workers, because every armed individual is a potential perpetrator. Those familiar ill thought out flawed arguments regarding road traffic accidents and swimming pool drownings divert attention from the real issue - guns are designed to kill, cars and swimming pools are not.
The evidence is clear, there is hope of an improvement in the condition of the patient, but only if the patient is willing to try."


  1. Hi Michael,
    Your post got me thinking about gun violence and the solutions available. I began by doing some research on the number of violent crimes in the UK and came across this article . Interestingly, it analyzes figures which suggest that that UK actually leads the EU in violent crime. As the article indicates, the study could be faulty because each country categorizes violent crime differently. Nevertheless, wouldn’t you say that such information should be included in an objective debate about the benefits of gun control? Furthermore, please take a look at this article . While you may not agree with the author or a lot of the points she makes, she does offer some compelling logic.
    My point is this: before offering quick fix solutions to our country’s complex problems, it is important to consider all sides of the debate in a fair and balanced manner. Before going to a partisan organization (like GCN) for their take on the issue, why not also ask for input from the other side? Remember, we are all on the same team here! We all seek to end the tragedy that is violent crime.

  2. Hannah-

    First of all, thanks so much for your articulate response! It's great to be able to have disagreements, while still maintaining respect.

    In regards to your first point, as you say, those stats are hard to interpret because each country evaluates 'violent crime' differently. However, according to data collected by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in the most recent year, the intentional homicide rate in the United States per 100,000 people was 4.6. In Israel, it was 2.1. In the U.K., it was 1.2! That's a pretty big difference.

    Also, I agree that the GCN is definitely a partisan group with an agenda. However,you quoted Ann Coulter as a reliable source on gun control. She is, by all definitions, a pretty radical self-identified conservative. She's made headlines in the past for her intolerance of all Arab-Americans and Muslims, suggesting we make a poll tax to vote (sounds like racism to me), and other such shockers. Quoting her is no better than me quoting GCN. Also, GCN works specifically with this issue. Ann Coulter is a talking head on cable T.V. whose wrote a book or two. She is not an activist on the front lines who knows this issue.

    While she does make some good points, there is a huge hole in her argument. If more people have guns, more accidents will occur, as well as more homicides. Most Americans are untrained, and buying a gun in many states does not require a background check. Giving more people guns sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. What are your thoughts?

  3. Michael-

    What steps do you think our government should take over the next few months? What is your ultimate vision on gun ownership in this country?

    1. Ms. Keller-

      I think that after such a tragedy, your great question is one that all Americans should be asking themselves. Personally, I hope and pray for a time when the words of Isaiah will come true, when 'nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.'

      However, until this happens, we need to do all we can to stop gun violence. Chief among those is banning assault weapons, which occurred under Clinton, but expired in 2004. Secondly, we must ban all high capacity magazines. These magazines are what allow these mass killers to shoot more people faster, and reload less.

      Thirdly, we must close all loopholes in the law that allow people to get guns without background cbecks. We must ensure that all potential gun owners obtain permits, and are thoroughly checked.

      Fourthly, make all potential gun owners take a several-week course in child gun safety, and learning how to shoot at a range, to get their license.

      Lastly, from the GCN website,

      "Homicide rates tend to be related to firearm ownership levels. Everything else being equal, a reduction in the percentage of households owning firearms should occasion a drop in the homicide rate".

      -Evidence to the Cullen Inquiry 1996: Thomas Gabor, Professor of Criminology - University of Ottawa.

      We must do all that is in our power to make sure guns are used rarely, safely, and smartly.

  4. this is really a complicated issue, and don't wish to oversimplfy it, but I feel that I must bring some matters up: it is claimed that 11,000 people are killed a year in the US, but according to the Clinton studies, approximatly 2.1 million cases where people used guns to defend themsleves. It seems a bit of a disparity. Also, what works for England won't work for us. England has no second ammendment. Furthermore, they don't have a country like mexico that gives their people weapons unlawfully. We do.

    1. Is this 2.1 million per year? Does it excude police, armed forces? What is the definition of "use to defend"? I find this hard to believe.The NRA issues blatantly false claims such as that more people are beaten to death in the US than are killed by guns.This was ststed on last Sunday's interview shows and is easily refuted by FBI statistics; see SNOPES