Told You So
by Larry Pratt
Executive Director, Gun
Owners of America
The British Home Office, in its "Practical Guide To Crime
Prevention," offers what are referred to -- presumably with a straight face
-- as some "sensible precautions."
Regarding how to stay safe at home, it is said: "If you wake to hear the
sound of an intruder, only you can decide how best to handle the situation. You
may want to lie quietly to avoid attracting attention to yourself, in the hope
that they will leave. Or you may feel more confident if you switch on the lights
and make a lot of noise by moving about. Even if you're on your own, call out
loudly to an imaginary companion -- most burglars will flee empty-handed rather
than risking a confrontation.
"Ring the police as soon as it's safe for you to do so. A telephone
extension in your bedroom will make you feel more secure as it allows you to
call the police immediately, without alerting the intruder."
This same "Guide" suggests the following, "if the worst
happens," and one is actually attacked: "You have every right to
defend yourself, with reasonable force with items you have with you... an
umbrella, hairspray or keys can be used against the attacker. The law however
doesn't allow carrying anything that can be described as an offensive
But, of course, in England, individuals are not legally allowed to decide how
best to deal with those who break into their respective homes. For example,
private persons cannot legally own handguns for protection -- which in the case
of repelling a home intruder would be a defensive weapon.
What is suggested in this "Guide" is neither "practical"
nor "sensible." An umbrella? Hairspray? Keys? Please. This is
dangerously absurd. In America, several studies have estimated that from
1,000,000 (the Clinton Justice Department number) to 2.5 million individuals (a
Florida State University scholar's number) every year use firearms successfully
in self-defense. Proportionately, based on your population, there is no reason
to believe that this would not also be true if firearms were as easily available
in England as (thank God) they are in my country due to the Second Amendment of
And there appears to be a stronger need than ever for your government to
allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves for self-defense if they so desire.
In a recent letter-to-the-editor in the American newspaper "USA Today"
(February 7, 2000), Jennifer Arney of Shere, Surrey, England, writes, in part:
"After living in England for more than two years, I know there are no
tragic results that come from the confiscation of guns. I've never felt safer
strolling through London, where the only arms bearers are selected
But, to put it charitably, Ms. Arney seems not to have the slightest idea
what's happening in her part of the world. The BBC's "News Online"
(January 18, 2000) reported that Home Office statistics reveal "a huge
surge in muggings, amid a worrying rise in violent crime." The number of
robberies (most of them muggings) increased by 19 percent in the year to
September. And the biggest rise in crime was in London which saw a 22 percent
increase -- more than one million offenses.
Overall, the violent crime rate in England now exceeds that of the U.S. rate
according to a joint Oxford University/U.S. Department of Justice study.
And the "only arms bearers" in London are "selected
Bobbies"? Not exactly. In London last year, there were more than 20 fatal
shootings allegedly linked to the "Yardies," gangsters who have their
roots in Jamaica.
Indeed, according to the January 16 issue of The Times criminals have an
estimated 3,000,000 illegal guns in the country. Once again we see that gun
control works -- against the law abiding only, not the criminals.
Last July, Tim Westwood, a BBC hip-hop disk jockey, was shot by a man who
opened fire on the car in which he was traveling in South London. And Amnesty
International reports that London is a base for another gang, the "Tamil
Tigers" of Sri Lanka, who extort money from London's Tamil community and
then buy guns and explosives which they give to terrorists. On the night of
August 30, 1999, at the Warren Farm Sports Center in Southall, UK, two gangs
said to work for the "Tigers" attacked each other with guns and
In addition, the "Manchester Guardian" has lamented the fact that
their city is now called "Gunchester" with police sources quoted as
saying that guns had become "almost a fashion accessory" among young
criminals on the street. Shootings in the area totaled 41 last year with three
people being shot dead during a 10-day period last summer.
One of these victims was Patrick Logan who was murdered by a hooded intruder
who broke into his home. I guess he forgot to lie still and/or turn on his
lights, yell to a non-existent companion, or call the police immediately. Or,
maybe, he didn't have handy an umbrella, hairspray or keys.
Your suicidal anti-self-defense lobby is wrong. So-called "gun
control" has not and will not make your country safer. And you're seeing
the truth of this assertion with a vengeance. According to a U.S. Justice
Department victim survey, in 1995 -- the last year for which complete data was
available for both countries -- an individual in your country is nearly twice as
likely to be robbed, assaulted or have a vehicle stolen, as in America.
There were 20 assaults per 1,000 households in England and Wales but only 8.8 in
the U.S. One article in a major British newspaper (London Sunday Times, Jan. 11,
1998), calling Britain "the crime capital of the West," has noted that
more than one in three British men has a criminal record by the age of 40. The
question is asked: "Where have we gone wrong?"
One place you've gone wrong is by denying your citizens the right to defend
themselves, their family and friends and their property with firearms. This is
immoral and stupid. As Colin Greenwood, the Chief Inspector of the West
Yorkshire Constabulary, has correctly observed: "There is no case... in
which [gun] controls can be shown to have restricted the flow of weapons to
criminals, or in any way reduced crime."
Shortly before your government's last assault on lawful gun owners I debated
a member of Parliament on CNN International. I predicted to him that your crime
rate would increase if the gun confiscation bill were to pass.
It gives me no pleasure to say: "I told you so." Those of us who
favor the God-given right of self-defense, and the right of private individuals
to keep and bear arms, have argued all along, as the old saying goes: "That
when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." England has proven
that with a vengeance.
Pratt, Executive Director, Gun
Owners of America (315,000 membership, June 2000), has held elective office in
the state legislature of Virginia and is an elder in the Presbyterian Church in
America. Gun Owners of America can be found on the web at http://www.gunowners.org.