Britain's anti-American media were all over the sad story of the V-Tech killings. They tore gleefully into America's "gun culture" and its people in general. Let's get this straight. This horror didn't happen because the killer was American. It didn't happen because he was ethnically Korean. It happened because the poor young man was mad.
"Ah, but he had such easy access to guns." Yes, he did. Unfortunately, since the university authorities had made the campus "gun-free," his victims did not. There was no-one there to return fire. Most of the victims would be alive today if the university had not banned guns.
Some Britons seem to enjoy it when something like this happens in America, but Britain has no moral standing to judge America harshly. Violent crime is declining in America and rising in Britain. The risk of being violently attacked in England & Wales is already higher than in America and rising. In Scotland, the situation is worse. Many killed or injured with knives or other weapons in Britain, would be alive and unharmed if their assailants had feared they might have a gun.
The main disadvantage of widespread gun ownership in America is that suicide is easier. 58% of America's gun deaths are self-inflicted, which is one reason you have to be careful when gun control advocates choose to compare "gun deaths" rather than homicides. Only 38% of America's "gun deaths" are homicides and some of those are justifiable (e.g. self-defence).
Britain's only statistical advantage in the field of crime is that our homicide rate is lower. America counts all reported offences. We remove homicides from the statistics if all suspects are acquitted (although the victim remains dead). We might not show the V-Tech killings in our statistics at all, if they were found to have been committed by a mentally-disturbed person (see Home Office Statistical Bulletin 02/07). America's statistics more accurately reflect the total number of victims.
It's hard to say what the statistical difference would be if comparable figures were available, but it seems reasonable to suspect that some of Britain's advantage would be lost.
Burglaries are twice as common in Britain as in America and 53% of them (because of improved household security) now take place when the homeowner is present. In America only 13% of burglaries take place while an occupant is home. American burglars do not have the benefit of a government guarantee that all properties are undefended. Would anyone in America have frightened my wife like these guys? I don't think so. They would have been afraid that she or some kindly neighbour would have shot them. That fear would have neutralised all their advantages of youth, strength and disregard for reputation.
To carry a licensed gun in America, you must - in every State - have a clean criminal record. Am I naive enough to expect American criminals to obey America's gun control laws? No. The naive ones are those who expect British criminals to abide by Britain's. They simply don't. While, by definition, no law-abiding citizen in Britain is armed; one-third of young criminals own or have access to a gun. There may be as many as four million illegal firearms in Britain.
For most of my life, I shared the common British view that America's attitude to gun control was crazy. However, disarming the law-abiding has proved to be disastrous. The British State can't or won't protect us. We were stupid to let it disarm us.
Can we please just shut up about V-Tech? We have no leg to stand on.