Saturday, June 12, 2010

Law did not Stop Cumbria Tragedy

Where I live, any adult without a criminal record or mental health problem can buy any firearm they want.

Makes me wonder, what the heck is the good of such restrictions in Great Britain??

Toughest laws in the world could not stop Cumbria tragedy

Gun laws in the UK are among the toughest in the world after a number of mass killings over the past three decades.

Anyone who acquires or is in possession of a shotgun — the weapon believed to have been used in the Cumbria killings — must have a certificate issued by a chief police officer in the area in which they live.

The certificate allows the holder to possess any number of shotguns, including pump-action and self-loading weapons with a magazine that cannot hold more than two cartridges.

The officer must be satisfied that an applicant has “good reason” for wanting a shotgun, is fit to have it and that public safety will not be endangered.

Police must interview every applicant and visit their home to check that the gun is held in a secure locker.
There were 574,946 shotgun certificates in operation at the end of March last year, 5 per cent higher than the previous year.

The number of certificates peaked in 1988 at 882,000 and has since fallen by more than a third, according to Home Office figures published in March.

The reduction coincided with revised rules for renewing shotgun certificates, including a requirement on the police to carry out additional checks on applicants, including a visit to their home.

The certificates covered 1.3 million shotguns.

In Cumbria 9,868 certificates were in operation in March covering 22,476 shotguns, an average of 2.3 guns per certificate.

Police in the area received 370 new applications for shotgun certificates of which only two were refused.

Shotgun certificates must be renewed every five years, with the police conducting the same checks on the applicant, including a face-to-face interview.

Gun laws were tightened after the Hungerford massacre in 1987, in which Michael Ryan killed 16 people and himself with two semi-automatic rifles and aa handgun.

Semi-automatic and pump-action rfiles, weapons with explosive ammunition, self-loading rifles and short shotguns with magazines were banned.

The Firearms (Amendment) Act of 1988 also made registration for shotguns mandatory. Shotguns were required to be kept in secure storage.

Even stricter laws were introduced after the 1996 killings in Dunblane, Scotland, when Thomas Hamilton murdered 16 primary schoolchildren and their teacher with four legally held pistols.

The then Conservative government prepared laws banning handguns above .22 calibre but after Labour came to power the law was changed to outlaw .22s as well.

More recently action was taken to deal with imitation firearms. The Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006 made it an offence to manufacture, import or sell realistic imitation guns, doubled the maximum sentence for carrying an imitation gun to 12 months, and made it a crime to fire an air weapon beyond the boundary of any premises.

It also increased the age limit for buying or possessing an air weapon from 17 to 18.

The killings in Cumbria will reopen the argument about gun control with people against restrictions arguing that whatever curbs are in place incidents such as today’s will still happen.

The argument should be reopened. Obviously the present policy is a folly, not even giving the regular people a chance for self defence is immoral.

Gun Control and Mass Murders

Where do mass murders happen?

In places where guns are readable to the common person, or in "GUN FREE ZONES?"

Gun Control and Mass Murders
By John R. Lott Jr.

It wasn’t supposed to happen in England, with its very strict gun-control laws. And yet last week, Derrick Bird shot twelve people to death and wounded eleven others in the northwestern county of Cumbria. A headline in the London Times read: “Toughest laws in the world could not stop Cumbria tragedy.”

But surely this was an aberration. Because America has the most guns, multiple-victim public shootings are an American thing, right? No, not at all. Contrary to public perception, Western Europe, most of whose countries have much tougher gun laws than the United States, has experienced many of the worst multiple-victim public shootings. Particularly telling, all the multiple-victim public shootings in Western Europe have occurred in places where civilians are not permitted to carry guns. The same is true in the United States: All the public shootings in which more than three people have been killed have occurred in places where civilians may not legally bring guns.

Look at recent history. Where have the worst K–12 school shootings occurred? Nearly all of them in Europe. The very worst one occurred in a high school in Erfurt, Germany, in 2002, where 18 were killed. The second-worst took place in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, where 16 kindergartners and their teacher were killed. The third-worst, with 15 dead, happened in Winnenden, Germany. The fourth-worst was in the U.S. — Columbine High School in 1999, leaving 13 dead. The fifth-worst, with eleven murdered, occurred in Emsdetten, Germany.

It may be a surprise to those who believe in gun control that Germany was home to three of the five worst attacks. Though not quite as tight as the U.K.’s regulations, Germany’s gun-control laws are some of the most restrictive in Europe. German gun licenses are valid for only three years, and to obtain one, the person must demonstrate such hard-to-define characteristics as trustworthiness, and must also convince authorities that he needs a gun. This is on top of prohibitions on gun ownership for those with mental disorders, drug or alcohol addictions, violent or aggressive tendencies, or felony convictions.

The phenomenon is not limited to school attacks. Multiple-victim public shootings in general appear to be at least as common in Western Europe as they are here. The following is a partial list of attacks since 2001. As mentioned, all of them occurred in gun-free zones — places where guns in the hands of civilians are outlawed.

Zug, Switzerland, Sept. 27, 2001: A man whose lawsuits had been denied murdered 14 members of a cantonal parliament.

Tours, France, Oct. 29, 2001: Four people were killed and ten wounded when a French railway worker started shooting at a busy intersection.

Nanterre, France, March 27, 2002: A man killed eight city-council members after a council meeting.

Erfurt, Germany, April 26, 2002: A former student killed 18 at a secondary school.

Freising, Germany, Feb. 19, 2002: Three people killed and one wounded.

Turin, Italy, Oct. 15, 2002: Seven people killed on a hillside overlooking the city.

Madrid, Spain, Oct. 1, 2006: A man killed two employees and wounded another at a company that had fired him.

Emsdetten, Germany, Nov. 20, 2006: A former student murdered eleven people at a high school.

Tuusula, Finland, Nov. 7, 2007: Seven students and the principal killed at a high school.

Naples, Italy, Sept. 18, 2008: Seven dead and two seriously wounded in a public meeting hall. (This incident is not included in the totals given below because it may have involved the Mafia.)

Kauhajoki, Finland, Sept. 23, 2008: Ten people shot to death at a college.

Winnenden, Germany, March 11, 2009: A 17-year-old former student killed 15 people, including nine students and three teachers.

Lyon, France, March 19, 2009: Ten people injured when a man opened fire on a nursery school.

Athens, Greece, April 10, 2009: Three people killed and two injured by a student at a vocational college.

Rotterdam, Netherlands, April 11, 2009: Three people killed and one injured at a crowded café.

Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2009: One dead and 15 wounded in an attack on a Sikh temple.

Espoo, Finland, Dec. 31, 2009: Four people shot to death at a mall.

Cumbria, England, June 2, 2010: Twelve killed by a British taxi driver.

So how does this compare with the United States? Bill Landes at the University of Chicago and I have collected data on all the multiple-victim public shootings in the United States from 1977 to 1999 (for a discussion of that information, see the just-released updated third edition of More Guns, Less Crime). If one looks at just those cases where four or more people have been killed in an attack, on average 10.6 people died in such attacks each year; the worst attack was the Luby’s Cafeteria shooting in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, in which 23 people died.

I don’t have exactly comparable data for Europe; however, the data I have been able to collect for the nine and a half years from 2001 through now indicate that on average some 12.5 people per year have died in such attacks. To be sure, Western Europe has a lower per capita rate, since its population over the last decade has been about 48 percent larger than the U.S. population over the earlier period (about 387 million to 262 million). Still, the fact that there are such attacks at all belies the conventional wisdom.

Large multiple-victim public shootings are exceedingly rare events, but they garner massive news attention, and the misperceptions they produce are hard to erase. When I have been interviewed by foreign journalists, even German ones, they usually start off by asking why multiple-victim public shootings are such an American problem. And of course, they are astonished when I remind them of the attacks in their own countries and point out that this is not an American problem, it is a universal problem, but with a common factor: The attacks occur in public places where civilians are banned from carrying guns.