Predictably, fulltime lefties have responded to the horrific murder-suicide in Durham with infantile wailing and gnashing of teeth. Ban guns, they scream, or at least tighten gun-licensing laws in a way that amounts to the same thing.
It’s true that people with documented mental problems, such as the suicide-murderer Atherton, shouldn’t be allowed to own guns. If Durham police were indeed informed in 2008 that Atherton was bent on self-harm, and yet didn’t invalidate his gun licence, then they must be brought to account — as psychiatrists will tell you, violence towards oneself often goes hand in hand with violence towards others. That agreed upon, can we now talk like grown-ups?
Much as I hate to repeat a slogan of the US National Rifle Association, guns don’t kill people — people kill people. Sometimes they shoot, sometimes they stab, sometimes they suffocate with pillows. Those wishing to do murder will find a way, and where there’s a way there’s a kill. And even where guns are everywhere more people are accidentally killed with cars, and yet cars still aren’t banned. But surely the more widely guns are available, the more murders will be committed? This question ought to be answered with factual evidence, not sentimental effluvia. And evidence points to a different conclusion.
Item 1: The six million Swiss own 600,000 assault rifles and 500,000 handguns. Yet murder statistics there are so low they aren’t even kept. Item 2: Massachussetts, with some of the toughest gun laws in the USA, has three times the murder rate of New Hampshire, where a resident doesn’t need a licence to buy a rifle, shotgun or pistol. Item 3, closer to home: In the six months after handguns were banned in Britain (1997) gun crime doubled.
I could cite such statistics till the MPs come home, all showing no direct link between the availabilty of guns and gun crime. Tough gun laws hurt only law-abiding people who find it hard to do country sports or defend themselves. Wicked people will always find a gun, and if you wish to put this assertion to a test, just go to any dingy pub in South London, chat to the landlord, buy him a pint, say you’re looking for a gun, see what happens. Another quotation from the NRA, and I thought I’d never cite those chaps: If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.
We live in a country where police manifestly fail to protect us. London outstrips New York hands down in every crime category except murder, where the gap is closing fast. And yet, in spite of some token gestures by our governing spivocrats, self-defence is frowned upon, to put it mildly. You’re welcome to defend yourself against a criminal, provided he doesn’t get hurt, or, God forbid, killed. If that happens, you’re almost guaranteed to be charged with manslaughter and likely to go to prison.
The spivocrats do allow us to use ‘commensurate force’ to defend our life and property. In other words, if you wake up at night to find a stranger standing over you, you must make sure you defend yourself only with a weapon he carries. If he has a baseball bat, you can use a baseball bat. If he has a knife, you can stab him. If he has only his bare fists, you can punch him. If he has a gun… well, let’s not get carried away. You’re not allowed to have a gun handy, even if you’re licensed to own one. It must be unloaded and locked up in a secure case. Much good it’ll do you there.
Now, for old times’ sake, when a man’s house is broken into, his duty is to protect his family first, himself second, his property third. And yet in a situation I described the state would rather you lay back and pretended you’re asleep, hoping that the thug has ‘only’ come for your TV, not our wife or your life. Chances are, that’s indeed the case. But are you willing to stake your life on that chance?
Forget about such outdated notions as honour — common sense alone should tell you that the intruder isn’t entitled to benefit of doubt. It’s your duty to yourself, your family and (another obsolete notion) society to assume the worst: the criminal has come to kill and rape, not to pick up 20 quid’s worth of electronic kit. His civil rights were left outside your smashed window — if you can, you are within your moral right to defend yourself with whatever you have available, regardless of any visible threat. If your house is broken into, consider your life in danger.
Alas, applying this seemingly irrefutable logic in a live situation may well land you in prison. It’s only in a free country that citizens are free to protect themselves. In our emasculating spivocracy, the state and, by logical inference, criminals have a monopoly on violence. The rest of us must rely on the Guardian and the BBC to defend us.
One suspects that the kneejerk reaction to the Atherton case will make matters even worse. You don’t really expect Dave and Nick, ably assisted by Ken, to make things better, do you?