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Gun Control in Britain Has Failed

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Around 1920, the British Parliament in London began whittling away at the right to own firearms. Recognized at least from the days of king Billy and his Glorious Revolution, the right to arms was slowly but steadily eviscerated as any rise in crime or some shocking event invigorated anti-gun sentiment in a country marching to the Left. New “common sense” restrictions were steadily adopted until little gun-ownership existed in practice.

Then a mass shooting in Scotland, in 1996, brought celebrities, media elites, leftist politicians, and concerned citizens together in a nationwide campaign to finally ban all handguns. In a desperate bid to save his Conservative party in the coming election, prime minister John Major sold out Britain’s one million remaining legal gun owners and delivered legislation banning all private possession of handguns with the exception of those chambered in .22 caliber. The Labour party still won a large majority in the House of Commons, and quickly delivered on its promise to finish the job.

But within a couple of years prime minister Tony Blair’s smug grin would fade. Murders shot up fifty percent. Rapes, assaults, and muggings all increased. Crime in the UK reached the highest level of any country in Western Europe in 2003. Crimes committed with firearms also increased. The left-wing government reacted by eroding more civil liberties, ending jury trials in some cases and reversing the ban on double-jeopardy and the use of hearsay evidence in court. Heavily armed police units cracked down on high-crime neighborhoods using house-to-house searches for illicit weapons in the hope that more repression would hold back the tide. A temporary respite brought toothy assurances that the situation was under control.

It was an illusion. Today the UK is experiencing yet another crime wave, and now holds the dubious honor of having the highest crime rate of any Western industrialized country – higher than the United States. Rapes and murders in the country’s largest cities are breaking records. A documentary film-maker complained recently that he had to wear body armor while filming in Birmingham. London is worse; murders have surpassed New York City, averaging about three per week, and it has three times as many rapes. Machete attacks happen an average of every ninety minutes in Britain.

In response, authorities are offering new policies that will hack at people’s freedoms. To counter the rape epidemic, for example, prosecutors are ignoring exculpatory evidence – as if destroying the life of a wrongly-accused person is a substitute for law and order! While hospital emergency rooms fill up with the wounded, police are arresting people for bad jokes. Political correctness is apparently what must be protected, not innocent victims. Nor will people be allowed to protect themselves: A 78-year-old Londoner is being prosecuted for killing a home-invader who threatened him with a screwdriver.

London’s lefty mayor Sadiq Khan has even proposed combating the city’s epidemic of knife-crime by imposing…knife control! Tweeting recently, he wrote, “there is never a reason to carry a knife.” Khan promises that violators will “feel the full force of the law,” which no doubt has vicious thugs trembling. If only he’d ban murder and rape too! Before long police home inspections will guarantee safe and proper storage of Britons’ kitchenware. It’s just “common sense.”

All of this is meant to hide an ugly truth: A century of gun control in the United Kingdom has failed.

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