THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Don't be smug about V-Tech killings

Link: BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US university killer was S Korean.

GunBritain'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.


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anonimous tip

Hum, you can always make your own gun:

You can also have a Lighter Gas Can and a Lighter nearby, etc.

Or maybe you fear the Law more than you fear death, like a "brave" little "citizen"...


Mark, I would be delighted to be wrong. Please direct me to the figures.

Mark Andrich

That Observer stat is from 2001.

In England and Wales, violent crime is falling. Gun crime is falling. The murder rate is falling. You may wish to amend your statistics.

Shirley Shiver

Two points:

1. I live in Texas. When we passed our "right to carry" law, crime - all types of crime - went down, dramatically.

2. When in high school - way back in 1949 - my Civics teacher was extolling the glories of gun control. Excited by the picture she painted, I told my folks that evening at dinner what a wonderful thing this would be. "Wait a minute, honey," my dad said. "If you wanted to take over a country whose populace was armed, what would be the first thing you would do?"

"Get rid of the guns," I answered.

"Right," said my *very* wise dad.

When I read that you folks in Britian were turning in your guns, I mourned for you.

Mark Gibson

Very cogent post; in fact I got linked here from National Review & now I'm poking around the whole blog.

I have decided to attend a training class next month, which is the main requirement to apply for a concealed carry permit. In the past I've never felt the need to go armed, but I have become convinced that events may overtake me. I was at VT (just passing through) a few weeks ago so it seems as if it's a more immediate thrat than it might seem if I lived somewhere else.

I have always been against gun bans, but what I cannot understand is why the proponents maintain that disarming citizens while leaving criminals armed makes us safer. And I'm willing to be convinced if someone can muster an argument, but I've yet to hear one.


Britain's anti-American media


The risk of being violently attacked in England & Wales is already higher than in America and rising

Only if you don't you count murder as a violent attack.

Can we please just shut up about V-Tech? We have no leg to stand on.

Unfortunately it's the American students who don't have a leg to stand on, having had them both blown off.

Winfred Mann


Well stated position. Gun control will never change the behavior of the criminals or the mentally ill, who will use any weapon available to commit mayhem.



I need to make two corrections, with apologies.

Reading the Home Office bulletin linked again, I see that homicides are included in the statistics as reported by the police, but removed again if all suspects are acquitted. So an unsolved murder will be listed if no suspects are brought to trial, but if a suspect is acquitted (although the victim is still dead) the homicide is removed from the statistics.

My statement that the V-Tech murders would have been treated as a single crime is not correct. However, if the killer was considered to be mentally-disturbed (as Mr Cho clearly was) the deaths would not feature AT ALL in the general homicide statistics. Separate statistics are kept for people killed by those too mentally disturbed to be found guilty.

The general point that comparisons are not "apples and apples" remains true, but I must apologise again for these errors. I have corrected the text accordingly.


"...the NRA's call to help arm Britain in 1940 resulted in the collection of more than 7,000 firearms for Britain's defense against potential invasion by Germany (Britain had virtually disarmed itself with a series of gun control laws enacted between World War I and World War II)."

Hello China, our forces are away.


One of my greatest regrets was selling my rifle and letting my licence lapse. (Another was voting pro-Common Market in the referendum.)


Well said, Tom and good to see Dave here too. And my other friends, of course. There is immense hypocrisy in our attitude to these things in America. Also in Russia.


Tom, I am glad you have made this point, I have not made any posts on the V-Tech shootings, as my opinion was that he was deranged, and could have wreaked the same damage with a samurai sword, an axe or molotov cocktails.

I have held a shotgun licence for thirty two years, yet at my last renewal I was asked why I had not filled the form in correctly. I looked blankly at the officer who felt the need to make a home visit. You have not entered your criminal convictions, again a blank look- your three points for speeding ! (doing 35mph at 6am in a 30 mph zone, which the week before was 40mph) I was told he would let it go this time but on my next renewal in five years I must put down everything on my criminal record.

Parliament has dictated that we should hand over our personal defence to the Police, who have little interest in dealing with real crime, with people who have Uzi's and machetes- they are just intent on going after the soft targets, as I posted today at Looking for a voice.

Until Chief Constables are directly elected and accountable this farce will go on.


You've hit the nail on the head, TP.

I hate to see this turn into a black and white issue (a complete ban on guns vs. guns for everyone). The U.S. isn't perfect, and I'd like to see some existing restrictions on gun ownership followed more carefully, but a complete ban on guns is a terrible idea. Everyone is in danger when only criminals have access to guns.

Lord Nazh

Great post!

You pointed out what I and almost everyone that believes in the right of self protection keep saying that no one listens to. No matter what laws you pass, CRIMINALS will not follow them.

Dave Petterson

How true. I did supported some form of gun control until the mid 90s. My gut suggested it made sense but after talking to a US Navy SEAL and when some of the media bias was pointed out and I did some checking I was converted and now think we should allow freer access in the UK plus the right to defend ourselves in our own homes with a carry option for when we are out. All under a scheme that excludes criminals and those with mental problems.

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