America has its fair share of gun homicides there’s no denying that point, yet anytime I see an incident of a “mass shooting” stateside I’m always embarrassed by the ensuing anti gun comments coming from my fellow Brits on social media. It’s usually almost as soon as news breaks and at a relentless pace that you see the same anti gun arguments being perpetuated, but many times the comments aren’t actually facts. The last few days have been no exception.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
This week a shooting in a school took place in south Florida. On Wednesday afternoon (14th Feb) an expelled teenager returned to the school for apparent revenge, armed with an AR-15 where he opened fire killing 17 and wounding 15 students that were in his path.
The shooter named Nikolas Cruz entered the school and pulled the fire alarms, put on a gas mask and threw smoke grenades before shooting anyone who was within his line of sight.
He was arrested soon after and taken into custody by local law enforcement , but even before the bodies were cold the calls from the anti gun lobby began on both sides of the Atlantic.
It goes without saying I view the deaths of so many young people as absolutely tragic, unnecessary and as a waste of life. I want to wish the family of the victims my condolences and I hope they find the strength to get through the grief ahead.
However, that doesn’t mean I won’t call out the fallacies being thrown around on social and mainstream media in the aftermath and the ensuing frenzy surrounding the case.
LET’S CLEAR UP A FEW MISTRUTHS
Firstly the rifle used was not an “assault rifle” as the media is widely stating. An AR-15 is a semi automatic sporting rifle not a military spec full auto, that is a big distinction as a semi auto requires one pull of the trigger per round fired. A full auto needs one trigger pull for multiple rounds fired. It think it’s disingenuous to call it something that it’s not in order to push a narrative. AR does not stand for assault rifle it stands for Armalite….the company that designed and manufacturers it.
For the next part let me clarify that Florida has the following gun restrictions, and to the comment from a Glaswegian I read stating you could buy machine guns in Walmart……..no, just no.
790.001, et seq.
Short-barreled rifle or shotgun, machine gun
3 days excluding weekends and legal holidays
Who May Not Own
1. Minors (under 21);
2. Convicted felon (or 3 yrs. after sentence or probation fulfilled);
3. Has been convicted or committed for abuse of a controlled substance within last 3 yrs.;
4. Anyone who chronically or habitually abuses alcohol or other substances;
5. Has been adjudicated incapacitated (or 5 yrs. after restoration of capacity);
6. Been committed to mental institution (unless free from disability for 5 yrs.);
7. Person subject to injunction against committing acts of domestic violence.
Law Prohibiting Firearms On or Near School Grounds
1. Felony. 790.115, 810.095
2. Gun free zones.
As you can see Florida has a distinct law about schools, they are gun free zones. This means that Cruz knew his victims were unarmed and wouldn’t return fire. This to me is the most sickening aspect about the shooting, they were absolutely defenceless.
The Gun Free Zone aspect is one I see over and over again when it comes to these shootings. Churches, schools, theatres….all places that the shooter assumes their victims will be unarmed and therefore easy targets. Simply stating “no guns here” in a country with as many firearms as there are people (if not more) is not a sound strategy. Disarming the law abiding will not equate to criminals being unarmed, the reality is quite the opposite.
When broken down American gun homicide statistics paint an interesting story, for example the majority are actually suicides, the next biggest number are gang related shootings in heavily “Gun controlled” cities like Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit or Los Angeles and coincidentally I’m sure democrat run states. These make up a massive 80% of the remaining deaths. What never is said in the media is how many times guns actually save lives in the US and indeed how states with more guns and more relaxed rules tend to experience lower gun crime. Like the old saying goes, “an armed society is a polite society”.
“BUT IF YOU BAN THEM THERE WON’T BE ANY SHOOTINGS. LOOK AT THE UK!”
The most prevalent argument you will see is the one in bold above, people always point to the UK as some sort of bastion of civility, like we don’t have any gun crime or indeed that we banned guns altogether. This really couldn’t be further from the truth but then it doesn’t help when my fellow Brits actually believe this as it further perpetuates the myth.
While it is true the UK banned standard handguns in 1997 after the Dunblane Massacre the previous year when a man shot dead 16 children and a teacher in a primary school using 2 Browning HP 9mms and 2 .357 S&Ws – it isn’t true that handguns were banned altogether .
Sport shooters can still acquire LBPs or for the uninitiated long barrel pistols which are essentially pistols with a ridiculously long barrel and a coat hanger welded on the back of it. Shooters have many hoops to jump through and be members of a gun club but it is entirely possible to own one. In the governments eyes these are impossible to conceal, forgetting of course that criminals won’t bother obtaining one and just import the standard ones instead. Even easier is just to purchase one on the black market from someone that’s already importing them.
The Isle of Man, Jersey and Northern Ireland all still have standard handguns available for sports shooters, and the latter has PPW permits or personal protection weapons for those that can prove they need one. Essentially conceal carry like the US. This system has been in place for decades in NI and has not resulted in firearms misuse or mass shootings.
Semi auto rifles were also banned in 1988 due to another incident in Hungerford the previous year. 16 dead and 15 injured this time. What both incidents had in common was mental illness, both took lives indiscriminately before taking their own, Dunblane was a bigger coverup however and a case of police negligence at the time.
DID GUN CRIME GO DOWN?
To put it bluntly no it didn’t, it actually rose in the years after the ban by 40% and have never went lower than pre ban levels.
To bring things up to 2018 the city of London just released a report for the previous year showing a substantial 16.3% increase in gun crime, the figures tell the story quite plainly that gun bans do nothing to deter criminals from using them. Again, disarming the law abiding does not disarm the law breaker.
Our government is currently trying to ban more types of firearm without any need whatsoever, this time they have their eyes fixed on long range shooting with .50cal rifles under the premise of “what if a terrorist got their hands on it?” That’s a very slippery slope as they can say that about anything but then the UK is quickly becoming more Orwellian by the day.
So as you can see guns don’t just magically disappear no matter how many freedoms and liberties governments take away in order to give the illusion of safety. The determined will always find a way it doesn’t matter if you tell them they aren’t allowed, you simply create another market for the underground seller.
If we look to other countries in Europe with high legal gun ownership we get the same story, more guns seems to equate to less crime. Take Norway, very high gun ownership yet the same story, or Sweden, or the Czech Republic where guns are now part of their constitution. It’s basic logic if you really consider it, if you think someone is going to shoot you when you break into their home or business would you take the chance? I know I wouldn’t.
So in closing the next time you hear the same old arguments just know there is more to the subject than many anti gun activists are letting on. Especially if the comments are from a misled Brit saying our laws stopped gun crime. Even after the bans there was another mass shooting in Cumbria where he killed 12, injured 11 then shot himself. If it did little to stop crime here (we didn’t have a major gun problem before the bans anyway) then it will certainly do nothing in America, in fact I would predict it would be catastrophic and besides, America has many freedoms, they have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and the right to bear arms. These are things us Brits don’t have, our government makes it up as they go along and remove liberty at will.
The right to bear arms is a freedom and a right, nobody said there wouldn’t be times where that freedom is abused. A gun is a tool that is used, it is the user that aims and pulls the trigger. But make no mistake about it, the shooter in Florida knew those kids were in a gun free zone and they were defenceless. He had revenge on his mind and coldly calculated his attack.
I hope they all rest in peace and get justice.
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*info on Florida correct at time of writing 15/2/18 2pm GMT