I received an interesting email this morning from across the pond (full name redacted):
I believe in the right of the individual to keep and bear arms in defence of themselves. This makes me a significant rarity, given that I am as British as Cornish pasties.Here's what I sent him in reply:
I heard the standard arguments of the pro-banning-guns community while growing up, but I had an analytical enough mind to know that I wouldn't be able to conscionably form an opinion without investigating the statistical nature of taking guns away from a community in comparison to communities where guns are not taken away. This missing piece was provided by a friend I gained via IRC who runs a gun shop in Pennsylvania, who linked me to gunfacts.info, and I saw the proverbial light. Beyond that, firearms have never played a central part of my life - I've never lived in the areas of the country where gang warfare and violent crime are greatest, and nobody in my family had much to do with firearms in a sporting context or hunting.
As such, I have a question which is likely not quite what you normally get. You've characterised the sweep of gun control through the legislation of the UK as a slippery slope, which I don't disagree with; what can I do to try and reverse the process?
Thank you for your missive. I wish I had a simple answer for your question, or even some words of encouragement, but with regard to that slippery slope I'm personally afraid that the UK has proceeded too far down it to ever climb back out. "Reversing the process," in my opinion, requires "renormalization" - that is, making guns and gun ownership if not common, at least not uncommon again. One of my favorite quotes regarding the "normalization" of gun ownership comes from Teresa Nielson Hayden: "Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them." Unfortunately, the disarmament of your nation has proceeded well past the point where that can occur - thus guns and gun ownership will remain (in the eyes of the majority of your fellow subjects) abnormal, anti-social and frightening. It's a cultural change that took over eighty years to accomplish, and the inertia of that effort will preclude the necessary reversal of your gun control laws that will allow renormalization. The British psyche no longer recognizes two "gun cultures" - one of sportsmen and protectors and one of criminals - it only recognizes one - the criminal. Note that many in your culture still object to the arming of police forces even in the face of skyrocketing violent crime. As you yourself noted, your belief in the right of armed self-defense makes you a "significant rarity" in your own culture.Actually, I repeat my entreaty: Get out. Get out NOW.
The only way to "reverse the process" is to convince the voting public that guns are not the cause of crime, that gun owners are not violent psychopaths or petty criminals just waiting for the opportunity to criminally misuse their guns, and that they themselves are responsible enough to own one and use it in defense of themselves, their families, and their property. That option has been stripped from you in death-by-a-thousand-cuts legislation dating back to 1920. I think the final step over the brink was the 1996/97 handgun ban.
In Scotland in 2007 there were 26,056 firearm certificates on issue to a total population of 5,062,000. In other words, about 0.5% of the population is licensed to own a centerfire rifle or a shotgun that can hold more than two shells. In England and Wales there were 128,528 firearm certificates on issue to a population of about 54 million, or less than 0.25% of the population there. That's nowhere near enough to make firearms ownership anything approaching "normal," and the laws make it extremely unlikely that firearm ownership levels in UK will ever again approach even 5%.
It's cold of me, I know, but the UK for me now serves as an example of what can happen here if we don't fight tooth and nail to prevent it.
I wish you luck in your endeavors, though. I'd love to be proven wrong.