The Hand of Hurd: Guns and Freedom (1988), by Sean Gabb

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The Hand of Hurd: Guns and Freedom
(Published by the University of York Freedom Society, October 1988)
by Sean Gabb

According to a Government leaflet just given me*, this is "Firearms amnesty" month. If I hand in any gun which I am told I ought not have, I shall not risk being locked away for five years ‑ not, of course, that I have any such a I have put this leaflet in a special place, and may soon put it to a special use. If everyone did the same, where would the Country be?

For most, the answer is simple, Without gun controls, they say, armed crime would soar. and this fear is held to justify a level of police interference in our lives which would have amazed or disgusted our ancestors. Yet what evidence there is in the matter suggests that the armed crime rate is determined less by oppressive gun laws than by the facts of national character a Observe:

1) People talk much of America, where controls are milder and murders more frequent than in England. But the US murder rate with knives alone is higher than our own from all causes together; and our knife controls are virtually a nullity as any schoolboy just back from Calais knows. If our rate is lower even where no barriers exist to parity, gun controls may not be all that keeps shooting homicide in York below that of New York.

2) No one who wants a gun is denied one. Handguns have been controlled since 1920, shotguns only since 1966, and less severely. In 1967, shotguns were used in 21.3% of armed robberies, handguns in 45.6%. The 1985 figure for shotguns was 26.8%.. If controls were effective, armed criminals would have generally used shotguns 21 years ago, and would rely heavily on them even now. But choice of firearms has been determined quite evidently by preference, not theoretical availability. This is not surprising, considering how easy guns are to smuggle, and how many millions there are in the country anyway which the Police are unable to track down and license or take away.

Controls, then, do not serve their stated purpose of restraining armed crime. What they do achieve is to disarm the respectable public, leaving many of us open to attack by any thug with a broken bottle. Most kinds of self protection require a degree of strength or skill that few can ever possess. But a gun is a great equaliser. Judo looks impressive. Running away sometimes helps. But when it comes to stopping an attacker, nothing beats a bullet.

Esau sold his birthright. He at least got a mess of potage.