Shooting success but for how long?

The shooters have been reliable medal winners for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth and this time is no different with Derek Beattie winning a silver medal but what will be the situation in future games if the Belfast Telegraph and Lord Laird get their way?
The Belfast Telegraph is getting itself worked up about the number of legally held firearms in Northern Ireland and Lord Laird has jumped on the bandwagon too.

They do not seem to be offering any particular reason for the concern about legal gun ownership just they think the number seems big. The comparison with England and Wales is a questionable one as:
Northern Ireland is a more rural society with easy access to the countryside (not much point having a 12 guage in central London unless you want to try your luck in Hyde Park and dodge the anti-terrorist police),
Present figures for England and Wales don’t include air rifles but most must be registered in Northern Ireland.
Handguns are legal in Northern Ireland.
More people have received training with and are familiar with firearms fueling an interest in shooting as a sport.

The fact that the Northern Ireland regime for granting firearms is among the most rigorous in the world and the level of information it holds the most extensive doesn’t seem to assuage their worries. If their concern is driven by a fear of gun crime then England and Wales is a fine demonstration of the failure of gun control. Illegal use of firearms by criminals is growing despite sweeping bans on legallly held firearms.

As for Lord Laird, he often waxes lyrical about the Ulster-Scots and their role in the foundational documents of the United States of America maybe he never got as far as the second amendment.

  • Brian Boru

    These weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and criminals. The 2nd amendment in the US gave the world Columbine etc. Finland has one of the most liberal gun regimes in the EU and also I believe the highest murder rate. Not to mention the South African situation. The case for a crackdown on gun ownership is unanswerable.

  • Pete Baker

    “The case for a crackdown on gun ownership is unanswerable.”

    Well, let’s hear that case first, Brian.. then we’ll decide if it’s unanswerable.. so far all you’ve done is string together some of your preferred, and dubious, theoretical links.

  • Young Fogey

    not much point having a 12 guage in central London unless you want to try your luck in Hyde Park and dodge the anti-terrorist police

    I live around the corner from Hyde Park and I wouldn’t recommend that particular strategy with the trigger-happy Met unless you want to end up like Jean Charles de Menezes.

    More seriously, England has some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the world, but it hasn’t stopped the gun murder rate spiralling ever since or gangsters getting their hands on illegal firearms at all. A big yardie dealer was shot dead in a very upscale mansion block around the corner from this estate about three years ago (with 96 grand in cash in his flat) and there hasn’t been so much as an arrest. You can bet the professional hitmen who carried the job out weren’t using registered pistols from the local pigeon shooting club.

    Let’s get the illegal guns out of circulation, especially those in the hands of the UVF and UDA which are still in use regularly, before tackling problems which might not even be problems.

  • Young Fogey

    Brian B

    Finland has one of the most liberal gun regimes in the EU and also I believe the highest murder rate.

    Estonia and Latvia are way out on their own – and Finland’s rate is high mainstream rather than the highest in Europe. Canada has an extremely liberal firearms regime and a low murder rate. You can’t move in Turkey without bumping into a gun and you have a gun stall in every market, yet their murder rate is very much in the mainstream as well. Switzerland and Austria have liberal gun laws, high rates of gun ownership (mostly hunting rifles) and low murder rates.

    I’d venture America’s high murder rate has a few other causes than liberal gun laws (which not all of America has, anyway) – entrenched organised crime since the prohibition years, the legacy of slavery and de facto apartheid, the latter of which ended relatively recently, the ‘War on Drugs’ and a punitive and violent criminal justice system, etc., etc. Otherwise, you’d expect murder rates in Edmonton, Vienna and Geneva to be a bit higher than they are.

    Correlation doesn’t prove causation, but anti-correlation goes pretty close to disproving it.

  • fair_deal

    Brian Boru

    Despite your attempt to shut down the debate before it begins I am afraid the case is most obviously answerable

    As already pointed out criminals don’t have any problems arming themselves in England and Wales despite bans on legal weapons.

    Multiple murderers have struck in countries with and without gun control. The UK’s most recently convicted serial killer managed to murder 4 people in three days with a knife.

    Your argument would be stronger if the examples you cite were actually correct

    “Finland has one of the most liberal gun regimes in the EU and also I believe the highest murder rate.”

    Finland does have a high level of legal gun ownership. However, its murder rate is among the EU’s highest with 3.24 per 100,000 of the population (hungary is higher) but 75% do not involve a firearm, legal or otherwise. Portugal and Italy have higher murder rates using a firearm than Finalnd despite having stricter firearm laws.

    Norway has similar levels of gun ownership to Finland and its murder rate is lower than England and Wales.

    The guns whch fed the crime wave in south Africa were those previously held by the likes of the ANC and other anti-aparthied groups. It is why when President Mbeki met Peter Robinson he agreed that paramilitary weapons here had to be decommissioned.

  • páid

    interesting stuff, particularly fair deal’s point about finnish murder rates, and weapons. I have a little feeling though that the ‘people kill people, not guns kill people’ argument is partially flawed. I have felt like killing someone, rarely! (an obnoxious burglar, in fact (once)). Anger is powerful. I had a leg, I kicked him; if I had a knife I think I would probably have stabbed him. If I had a gun, would I have shot him? Does the homicide rate go up when anger gets it’s chance to kill? I suspect it does.

  • Young Fogey

    Does the homicide rate go up when anger gets it’s chance to kill? I suspect it does.

    My instinct says yes but the facts say otherwise. Unless the Canadians and Swiss are somehow preternaturally calm. Actually, they are, aren’t they…

  • Dec

    I have a little feeling though that the ‘people kill people, not guns kill people’ argument is partially flawed.

    Couldn’t agree more. You don’t hear of too many drive-by garrotings, after all.

  • DK

    True enough all that has been said above. If a country has strict controls then the murders are carried out with illegal weapons; if a country has lax controls then murders are carried out with legal weapons. Seems that the level of control has little impact on the murder rate – Canada and the USA being the best contrasting examples and the subject of Michael Moore’s film about gun control (Bowling for Columbine) where, from memory, he concludes that social alienation and poverty are reasons for gun crime, rather than gun ownership.

    In NI, does anyone know how many post-ceasefire killings were carried out with legal vs. illegal weapons?

  • Dec

    It would be interesting to know the exact numbers of leggally held firearms in the north and the purpose for which they’re kept (I’m assuming this has to be stated on a licence application). It strikes me as a bit odd in a state where you will receive a fine for driving without a seatbelt and where smoking is soon to be barred in public places, a blind eye seems to be turned against more than 100,000 (guesstimate) deadly firearms stashed in wardrobes.

  • eranu

    northern ireland good at shooting? who would have thought it!! 🙂 didnt we win gold in the last games and it was announched in the assembley and everyone laughed?

    reducing the number of legal guns isnt going to have any impact on criminals. they get their guns on the illegal market, theres no need to steal someones gun. as regards legal guns being used to kill someone by their owners, i cant remember ever hearing of that in NI. im sure its happened but the number must be so low as to be unimportant.

  • fair_deal

    Dec

    “the exact numbers of leggally held firearms in the north and the purpose for which they’re kept”

    Approximately 144,500 firearms.
    Allowed for vermin control and sporting purposes. This is proven by permission from landowners to shoot on their land and membership and active participation in gun clubs respectively.

    “a blind eye seems to be turned against more than 100,000 (guesstimate) deadly firearms stashed in wardrobes.”

    They are not kept in a wardrobe. Firearms have to be kept in a steel cabinet bolted to the wall (that if you lose the keys you need an powerful angle grinder to attempt to break into).

    NI also has one of the strongest licencing and monitoring regimes in the world so it is not a blind eye.

  • Dec

    So slightly less than 10% of the population are actively involved in vermin control and the sport of shooting? Thats a hell of a lot? Didn’t know we had that many rats.

    Firearms have to be kept in a steel cabinet bolted to the wall (that if you lose the keys you need an powerful angle grinder to attempt to break into).

    Who regulates this and how? Are peoples homes inspected?

  • fair_deal

    “So slightly less than 10% of the population are actively involved in vermin control and the sport of shooting? Thats a hell of a lot? Didn’t know we had that many rats.”

    Less than that. Most licence holders hold more than one firearm e.g. a farmer to hold a shotgun, air-rifle and/or .22 rifle as each is better suited to particular types of vermin.

    “Didn’t know we had that many rats.”

    Vermin covers a lot more than rats.

    “Who regulates this and how? Are peoples homes inspected?”

    Yes, the cabinets are kitemarked to a BS standard and the police inspect them.

  • Gill Bates

    Just a few points I’d like to make.

    I’ve held a gun licence since I was 18 (now I’m 31) and the main reason I have it, as it states on my licence, it is for sport and vermin control.

    In 2004 the law covering firearms tightened (as if it wasn’t tight enough). Before you could say that your firearm was held in a gun cabinet, but generally this was never checked out. Now EVERY gun has to be held in a gun cabinet. Obviously lessening the chances of some wee scumbag breaking in and legging it with your beloved side by side! Theft of firearms was on the increase until this measure was introduced and if you were unfortunate enough to have your gun stolen you lost your licence, no appeals, no comeback.

    I think Brian that there is a place in society for responsible people to own a gun.

  • How could anyone think that less guns is a bad thing? I can see how many wouldn’t want to give them up though, in the event of a “doomsday scenario”, scary thought…

  • Dec

    Gill

    I’ve held a gun licence since I was 18 (now I’m 31) and the main reason I have it, as it states on my licence, it is for sport and vermin control.

    What is the other reason(s)?

  • Yokel

    If they had put pictures of knees up instead of bullseye targets I reckon the North could have had more entrants and more medals…theyd be crap though if someone starting shooting back at them…they’d\be asking for a public inquiry

  • Young Fogey

    How could anyone think that less guns is a bad thing?

    No-one, but who says passing a law banning handguns means there are less guns.

  • Common sense?

  • Young Fogey

    Common sense?

    Common sense isn’t always right. Why has gun crime spiralled in Britain since the Dunblane laws were introduced?

  • Young Fogey

    No answer. Thought not.

  • My apologies Mr. Fogey, for the delay, however having a life I am not neccessarily available to answer immediately…

    I’ve no idea why there’s more gun crime in the UK since the “dunblane laws” were introduced. The claim you made had nothing to do with gun crime, you claimed/asked about a law banning handguns meaning there would be less guns. I would imagine that those people who have legal guns would turn them in, being regular law abiding folks, therefore… less guns. Q.E.D.

  • Young Fogey

    My apologies Mr. Fogey, for the delay, however having a life I am not neccessarily available to answer immediately…

    Ooooh, touchy! I wasn’t referring to you specifically, just the tendency for believers in the conventional wisdom to run away from debate when facts are brought into play.

    I’ve no idea why there’s more gun crime in the UK since the “dunblane laws” were introduced. The claim you made had nothing to do with gun crime, you claimed/asked about a law banning handguns meaning there would be less guns.

    Don’t be such a silly pedant!

    OK, I’ll play your game. Having less guns may not be a bad thing, but equally it may not be a good thing if the guns given up are the ones that wouldn’t be used for anything untoward anyway.

    I would imagine that those people who have legal guns would turn them in, being regular law abiding folks, therefore… less guns. Q.E.D.

    And all the guns owned by irregular, non-law abiding folks stay in circulation. Really useful that is.

  • Keeping legal guns in circulation doesn’t solve any gun crime either. Guns are lethal killing devices, I don’t believe they should be legal. Going further I don’t think there should be any guns in the world full stop. Obviously it would be hard to achieve that but a good start would be making recreational guns illegal.

  • Young Fogey

    Keeping legal guns in circulation doesn’t solve any gun crime either.

    Nor does is it create gun crime – and if you’re arguing it is, you’d better present some better evidence than just repeating assertions time after time.

    Try explaining why Scotland’s murder rate is higher than Turkey’s, Germany’s than Austria’s, Australia’s than Canada’s before you claim tghat it does. Why, if banning guns is so good, has the level of gun crime and the overall murder rate shot up in Britain since the Dunblane laws were brought in?

    You seem to believe that things should only be legal if there is some demonstrable good that comes from them. I believe things should only be illegal if some demonstrable harm, outweighing any good, occurs to someone who doesn’t want it to happen to them. That’s a big gap.

    Guns are lethal killing devices, I don’t believe they should be legal.

    Cars are lethal killing devices – vastly more so that guns in our society. Do you want to ban them.

    Explosives are lethal killing devices – but have a multitude of peaceful uses for the betterment of manking. Do you want to ban them?

    Bulding sites are death traps? Do you want to ban the construction industry?

    Also – guns are used for other things than killing people – like killing vermin, and, um, having fun with (if that’s allowed in your view of the world).

    And even if you make them illegal, that doesn’t stop people getting their hands on them if they really want them.

    Going further I don’t think there should be any guns in the world full stop.

    No harm, but that reads like the P6 end of year essay competition. You are never going to get rid of guns and you are liable to do more harm than good if you try.

    Obviously it would be hard to achieve that but a good start would be making recreational guns illegal.

    Explain how, please?

  • “Nor does is it create gun crime – and if you’re arguing it is”

    I’m not.

    Guns are designed to kill, cars/construction sites etc. are not.

    “Explain how, please?”

    Because there would be less guns… em… duh!

    Why don’t you explain to me why you need a gun? And having a gun for fun doesn’t cut it with me… people can have “fun” at dog fights, that doesn’t mean they should be legal.

  • Young Fogey

    Once again, your holiness, you ignore the real world evidence on the subject. You ignore the lack of correlation between rigidity of gun laws and murder rates internationally. You ignore the lack of impact the introduction of strict gun laws has had on murder rates worldwide. You ignore anything which might challenge the media-driven conventional wisdom you hold to.

    Guns are designed to kill

    The guns licenced in Northern Ireland are designed to kill one of three things:

    * vermin on farms (do you object?);
    * paper or clay targets at target ranges (do you object?), or;
    * people who are trying to kill someone who are in the process of killing them (i.e. personal protection weapons – do you object and if so what replacement protection do you give them?)

    At no point have you ever asserted that illegal weapons would be likely to go out of circulation thanks to tightening up the gun laws, so the net effect of your legislation would be to take lots of guns from law abiding people with no intention of killing anyone and allow criminals (most notably the UDA and UVF) to keep them. Have I said anything incorrect here?

    I asked you to explain why banning legal firearms in Northern Ireland would bring us closer to a gun free world. Well, you sort of flunked in explaining to me how it would stop American Survivalists owning machine guns or 8 year olds being told to shoot other 8 year olds in the Congo. Or indeed Andre Shoukri and his mates having a feud.

    Once again, you hide behind pedantry, the last-but-one refuge of those who lose arguments on the internet. Next, you’ll be picking on my spelling mistakes.

    Why don’t you explain to me why you need a gun?

    I don’t need a gun, I don’t have a gun and I don’t want a gun. I have no right to stop my neighbour having one unless I have a reason to think he’s going to do something wrong to someone else with it. Life is about a bit more than being ‘allowed’ to do things I ‘need’.

    What about you, why don’t you explain to me why you want to run other people’s lives for them?

  • YF,

    I’m not “hiding behind pedantry” I never mentioned illegal guns or gun crime, I am only discussing legal firearms, which is the subject of the thread. I am not engaging on the illegal gun subject because I don’t have any solutions or anything to offer you on it, you seem better educated than me in this area, we both agree that gun crime is bad, and that’s good enough for me.

    Legal guns I view as being loaded with potential energy, waiting to be released. The more legal guns we have the more likely one will kill someone either accidently or on purpose, it’s simple probability. If we have no legal guns, none will kill anyone, that’s a fact. Now specifically in the north-east of Ireland you have a situation where we are emerging from a generational conflict. It’s an area where a simple spark could set the whole nasty show off again, the less guns in that particular equation the better, in my opinion.

    I reckon that we’re not going to agree on this you’re more libertarian on this issue, and I doubt you are open to change. I have my views and opinions and I think that’s fair too.

  • Young Fogey

    The more legal guns we have the more likely one will kill someone either accidently or on purpose, it’s simple probability.

    But there’s limited international evidence to back that up – and as far as killing people on purpose goes, people are capable of finding all sorts of ways to kill their fellow man.

    If we have no legal guns, none will kill anyone, that’s a fact.

    No, illegal guns will, knives will, boots will, etc., etc. If passing laws and banning things we didn’t like could create utopia, we’d have done it a long time ago.

    Now specifically in the north-east of Ireland you have a situation where we are emerging from a generational conflict. It’s an area where a simple spark could set the whole nasty show off again, the less guns in that particular equation the better, in my opinion.

    I can see where you’re coming from, don’t get me wrong, but if (God forbid) the whole nasty show goes off again, it won’t be legal firearms causing the problems. In fact, I doubt it would even be firearms – kids with halfers and petrol bombs more like.

    I reckon that we’re not going to agree on this you’re more libertarian on this issue, and I doubt you are open to change. I have my views and opinions and I think that’s fair too.

    I never disputed your right to hold different views. I just disagree with those views. Yes, I am libertarian on this issue and I am on pretty much all non-economic issues. Still, the slabbering on Slugger is good fun and if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here.