Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

A Civilized Society

Monday, May 3, 2021

A Civilized Society

Bloomberg columnist Sir Max Hastings shares his thoughts on guns, crime, and the differences between his native Britain and the United States in “I Grew Up on Guns. Now I’ve Learned to Love Firearm Control.”

Having a father who had brought home keepsake firearms from the Second World War, he claims he became “exceptionally proficient” at taking apart and reassembling guns as a child. This glimpse into his background is provided to preempt the “common response of American enthusiasts to the rest of the world’s horror: ‘Foreigners don’t understand guns.’” That isn’t quite the point. Foreigners – regardless of how well they may handle guns – don’t always understand Americans.

He writes “the association of right-wing patriotism with gun ownership is a recent construct,” with it being a “fiction” that “weapon ownership [is] an inherent part of American identity.” Weapon ownership may not be an integral part of the national identity and remains a matter of personal choice; however, the right to possess and bear arms has something of a longer and more celebrated pedigree. The United States Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), traced this right back to English precedents that predated the creation of the United States. The “Second Amendment was not intended to lay down a ‘novel principl[e]’ but rather codified a right ‘inherited from our English ancestors.’”

According to Sir Max, it is a truth universally acknowledged that “possession of a gun facilitates homicide… and suicide,” as it “requires absurdly little physical effort, or even psychological commitment, to point and fire a gun.” He states no other country comes close to the scale of gun ownership in the United States, with 400 million weapons, or 46% of all the world’s guns, in private hands. Assuming his information and premise are correct, one would expect the United States to dominate homicide and suicide rates worldwide by a spectacular margin.

Firearms, however, have not propelled America to the top of the charts. The rate of suicide in the United States is below that of Japan, France, South Korea, Poland, Switzerland, Hungary and Belgium, to name just a few; Russia and Lithuania have rates twice that of the U.S.  Likewise, the United States is far from being the global leader in homicides – one source indicates the U.S. rate of “death by interpersonal violence - homicide” in 2017 was just over 6 per 100K, the same as Cuba, Moldova, Argentina and Thailand, and well below that of Guatemala (36.6), Mexico (34.1), Brazil (30.1), Costa Rica (10.4), or all of Eastern Europe (13.0).

Statistics aside, his personal history undermines his claim. Despite growing up in a home with a father who was “potty about” guns, those firearms apparently drove no one in the Hastings household to homicide or self-harm. The only apparent victim of gun violence was a television accidentally shot by Hastings, one of the “wonderfully rackety experiences of [his] childhood.”    

A particularly disappointing reference in Hastings’ article relates to the rise in gun sales in 2020, “as the pandemic intensified nameless, undefined fears. Many of these gun owners cannot credibly explain what threat their personal arms are supposed to defend against. It would be hard to shoot a virus, for instance.” The implication – inexplicable for a person of his background and intelligence – is that these gun owners are ignorant, too simple to grasp the nature of COVID-19.

A more rational explanation would look to the riots and “unrest” that swept across the country last year, together with police “stand down” orders and calls to slash law enforcement resources. At least one academic has pointed to these events and the “unwillingness or inability of local authorities to stop looting, rioting, and other lawless and violent behavior” as proof of the importance of the right to have the means of self-defense.  Individuals under the impression they have no need to arm themselves because protection is available from the police have very clear and legitimate apprehensions when politicians and others abdicate their responsibility and ignore (or encourage) criminal behavior and a breakdown of the public order.  

The self-help option is firmly rejected by Hastings. “If my wife and I found ourselves faced with intruders, I would not think of reaching for one of my guns: Such a response would probably prompt my indictment, for using a firearm with intent to endanger life.” He adds, further, that most of his fellow British subjects “flinch from guns… [and] I have come to believe that my compatriots’ wariness …is a fault on the right side.”

If the case of Tony Martin is any indication, Hastings is entirely correct about the consequences of defending one’s home. Martin, a farmer in an isolated rural area, had been robbed at least six times and notified the police. During a break-in at his home in 1999, he shot at and killed one burglar and wounded another. Martin was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, although this was later downgraded to manslaughter. The surviving burglar was sentenced to 36 months but was released early; Martin was denied parole because he posed an unacceptable risk to burglars. A probation officer’s report cited Martin’s “unwavering belief that he is the one who has been wronged in the first instance by the burglars in the second by the Criminal Justice System,” as these “entrenched views make him a high risk of behaving similarly in future.” In a further fling against Martin, the career criminal burglar applied for and received legal aid funding for his civil lawsuit seeking damages; Martin was expected to fund his defense himself.   

The British “flinch” not just guns but at any item that may (plausibly or not) be a weapon. A U.K. police website advises that the only “fully legal self defence product” a person may buy is a “rape alarm” and warns, “You must not get a product which is made or adapted to cause a person injury.” In the same spirit, police “weapon sweeps” of parks and streets display scissors, pliers and a file, a length of pipe and other oddments, a rusty screwdriver, a rustier knife, a bent carving fork, a hockey stick, a handsaw, and cutlery knives. Presented without the police context, Americans would most probably identify these as appropriate scrap metal drop-offs for their local recycling facility. 

Hastings maintains that “widespread firearms ownership is a pollutant” and that the British “are a better, much safer society without handguns.” Millions of Americans would disagree. In Hastings’ British version of “Come and Take It,” criminals are free to help themselves knowing their unarmed victims can’t or won’t resist, and authorities appear to have less concern for victims than villains. In his civilized society, criminals have the moral high ground, chairs and narwhal tusks must be used to stop murderers, and it is entirely acceptable that good citizens are unworthy of possessing weapons.

IN THIS ARTICLE
United Kingdom Gun Ownership
TRENDING NOW
Massachusetts: Progressives Pass Radical Gun Control Bill

Friday, July 19, 2024

Massachusetts: Progressives Pass Radical Gun Control Bill

Progressive politicians in Massachusetts just passed one of the most extreme gun control bills in the country.

Massachusetts: Senate Passes Sweeping Gun Control Without Public Hearing

Friday, February 2, 2024

Massachusetts: Senate Passes Sweeping Gun Control Without Public Hearing

On Thursday, February 1st, the Senate passed S.2572 late in the night without the bill ever receiving a public hearing, ignoring the concerns of Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and second amendment advocates across the state. 

Massachusetts: Contact the H. 4139 Conference Committee NOW

Friday, April 19, 2024

Massachusetts: Contact the H. 4139 Conference Committee NOW

For nearly a year, extreme anti-gun Massachusetts politicians have been pushing one of the most extreme gun control bills in the country.

VA Tells Congressional Panel it “Could Not” and “Would Not” Comply with Pro-gun Legislation

News  

Monday, July 15, 2024

VA Tells Congressional Panel it “Could Not” and “Would Not” Comply with Pro-gun Legislation

Last Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs of the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a legislative hearing on a number of proposed bills that would change various procedures and standards for how the Department ...

NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

Monday, April 1, 2024

NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

NRA Members Among the Largest Class Protected from Draconian Rule

Third Circuit Affirms Denial of Preliminary Injunction in NRA-ILA-Supported Challenge to Delaware’s ban on “assault weapons” and “large-capacity magazines.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Third Circuit Affirms Denial of Preliminary Injunction in NRA-ILA-Supported Challenge to Delaware’s ban on “assault weapons” and “large-capacity magazines.”

On Monday, July 15, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction in Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association v. Delaware Department of Safety & Homeland Security, NRA-ILA’s lawsuit challenging ...

NRA Applauds President Trump’s Selection of Senator J.D. Vance as His Running Mate

News  

Second Amendment  

Monday, July 15, 2024

NRA Applauds President Trump’s Selection of Senator J.D. Vance as His Running Mate

Following President Donald J. Trump’s announcement of his selection of U.S. Senator J.D. Vance as his running mate, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) released the below statements.

New Hampshire: Critical Pro-Gun Privacy Bill Signed Into Law

Friday, July 12, 2024

New Hampshire: Critical Pro-Gun Privacy Bill Signed Into Law

On Friday, July 12th, Governor Chris Sununu (R-New Hampshire) signed HB 1186, "an act relative to firearm purchaser's privacy."

New Orleans Tries an End-run around Constitutional Carry

News  

Monday, July 8, 2024

New Orleans Tries an End-run around Constitutional Carry

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry (R) assumed office on January 8 of this year and wasted no time working to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Louisianans. 

Massachusetts: Anti-Gun Bill Passes House

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Massachusetts: Anti-Gun Bill Passes House

This evening, anti-gun politicians in the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed H. 4135, “an act modernizing firearm laws” by a vote of 120-38. This bill, formerly known as HD 4420 and HD 4607, now heads ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.