Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hunting, Shooting and Killing

I don’t know why a lone gunman murdered 12 people yesterday and shot another 11 before killing himself. In fact we may never really know for sure? Only two things are pretty certain. One - he will turn out to be some sort of bitter and twisted obsessive loner (as in Hungerford and Dunblane) and two – he had access to guns.

While I am sure that there are a lot of things that we can do better in the “community” to identify and prevent such people harming others or themselves the only sure way to reduce the number of similar incidents is to reduce the number of lethal weapons out there.

Why do we allow individuals to legally hold sniper rifles with telescopic sights capable of multiple homicides? According to the BBC here in England and Wales there are 138,728 people certificated to hold firearms and they own 435,383 weapons. (There are also 574,946 shotgun certificates which cover 1.4 million shotguns). 138 000 people – 435 000 weapons??? I used to target shoot when I was younger and I am sure that the vast overwhelming majority of folk who do shoot are decent and rational people. But with the best will and best laws in the world this is a ticking bomb and unless we have change further mass murders will just take place again, again and again. Just look what happens across the pond in the USA.

Or are we saying that this is a price worth paying for a minority of people to exercise their democratic right to enjoy their hobbies and traditions?

Today, I indulged in my own personal hobby of hill walking. Now it is conceivable that I may be able to do someone grievous bodily harm with my Brasher boots or Swiss army penknife but when hill walking I am incapable no matter how insane (discuss) of mass indiscriminate murder.

I hope the new Tory Minister for “Hunting and Shooting” (yes of course they have appointed one) Jim Paice will do what’s right and proper and just dramatically slash the number of such weapons in our society.

I won’t wait up.

Picture is from Shooting Times - its digital sample - I assume they will have the decency to take it down some time soon.


John Gray said...


While I can empathize, the trouble isn't guns, its violence. We must find a way to combat violence. Even without any guns, violence would still continue to take many innocent lives. If we are able to stop violence, guns (and all other weapons) become a non-issue. Maybe we need to do a better job of identifying the mentally ill and getting them help more than anything else.

Just look at China. They've had some similar incidents recently but involving knives. The knife-wielding nuts still injured and killed plenty before they were stopped.

Guns are not only for sport and tradition but they are also for defense, to defend against criminals who don't care about gun laws (the average police response time in the U.S. is something like 7-8 minutes, a lot can happen in 7-8 minutes) and to defend against tyranny (which is why the 2nd Amendment was added to the U.S Constitution).

Here in the U.S., there are millions and millions of legally obtained/legally owned guns. Only a tiny percentage of legal guns are actually used in crimes, even less in shooting sprees. The vast majority used in crimes (including shooting sprees) are illegally obtained/illegally owned.

The city of Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S. They also are headed towards having the highest number of shootings in the country this year.

Last, my prayers go out to all those who have lost love ones to senseless violence.

Your evil twin from across the pond

Anonymous said...

How can we allow Criminals to own not one gun but two

No Guns for convicted criminals

But then Cameron doesnt want new Laws

might upset Shooting /Hunting lobby

Overwhelming support for public

Anonymous said...

Shooting Lobby say new laws would effect our Olympics hopes

Anonymous said...


Mike Pike, 64, of Seascale: shot dead in Seascale while riding his bicycle. Grandad of three and formerly a trade union organiser at Sellafield.

Anonymous said...

I am really worried about a massacracre using crossbows as warned by London Borough's Mayor of Newhaw.

We must ban crossbows!!!!!

John Gray said...

Hi Brother John

I was thinking of linking this post to your site in order to get an alternative view! I am an optimistic about human behaviour but I think we will always have a tiny percentage of men (and they are nearly always men) who will just go absolutely berserk with little or no warning. Therefore surely the issue is access to weapons and the destructive nature of these weapons which are to hand when these men flip. There have been some incidents of mass injury with knives but not the carnage you get with guns. A few years ago a man with a machete attacked a primary school in Birmingham. He seriously injured a number of children but he was stopped by a teaching assistant who bravely attacked him despite receiving appalling wounds herself. In Dunblane primary school a gun man entered the school and started shooting children. A teacher who tried to stop him was just shot dead. 16 Children were killed (the British tennis player Andy Murray was a survivor). The last 3 British massacres have been by licensed and “legal” firearm holders. My argument would be if you reduced the number of legal firearm holders by 90% you would cut the chances of another massacre by a similar level.

As regards to crime – I understand that in 2005 there were 10100 homicides in America using firearms ( Now the UK is far from perfect but in 2008/09 there were “only” 648 homocides in total in England and Wales. The population of US is probably 4/5 times bigger but there has to be some sort of link to the availability to firearms for this disparency. I wonder how many people are accidentally killed when compared to those killed by criminals?

I accept that there is a different cultural tradition and of course even a constitutional expectation for citizens to bear arms “over the pond”. America is a democracy so it is not up to me to pontificate on what goes on in your own country (but I will always have a view).

Good to hear from you again (I think I owe you an email?). Are you still running that “Zombie” alert site? If so I must let you know the next time UNISON United left are having a meeting (inside union joke:)



John Gray said...


I enjoy hearing your viewpoint and you can always voice your opinion on what goes on over here. I may not agree but I sure enjoy the debate.

I can understand your argument and it does make sense in light of the shooting rampages being done by legal gun owners. The problem, at least here in the U.S., is that if we disarm the law-abiding citizens, we'll all just become victims of armed criminals. I guess, for me, I'm willing to risk the occasional rampage in order to be able to protect my family. Of course, I also feel that with gun ownership comes great responsibility. It is up to me to make sure that my guns are not used to hurt an innocent person. I take that responsibility very seriously.

I don't know the actual statistics but accidental shootings are very small compared to intentional shootings. Of course, pretty much every accidental shootings could have been prevented by the gun owner being responsible.

Would it be better if somehow we could remove all guns from the world? Sure, but is it possible? Probably not.

Yes, I still run my ZED Squad site. For me, its fun. Some of the members take the idea of zombies way too seriously. Maybe that's what makes it so much fun. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"I am really worried about a massacracre using crossbows as warned by London Borough's Mayor of Newhaw.

We must ban crossbows!!!!!"

wasn't a cross bow used to murder 3women in Bradford recently? Some Newham tories are real slimebags.

Anonymous said...


I understand of course your concern about guns in the wake of the horrible events at Whitehaven. But I am curious as to whether you see any contradiction between these concerns and your fervent support for our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan (is it just about making sure that the right people have the guns?) and your perhaps uncharacteristic reticence about the other massacre that dominated the news around the same time - on a boat in the Mediterranean?

John Gray said...

Hi John

Thanks for the contribution. Don't really agree but it is good to debate and share views. I will email soon!

Hi Anon
Don’t know about the “fervent” bit but no I don’t (and I really don’t understand how anyone could make the connection in the first place?)

To be honest apart from not being able to blog much last week I generally find the pointless bloody minded intransigence of both sides in Israel and Hamas far too depressing to post upon.

It was though yet another massive "own goal" for the Israeli as well as a tragedy for the protestors.