Last friday the Daily Telegraph, Britain’s most widely read broadsheet newspaper, issued an online poll asking members of the public which proposal they would like to see introduced as a Private Members’ Bill in the UK’s Parliament.
Private Members’ Bills are introduced by Members of Parliament or Peers who are not government ministers.
The choices include term limits for Prime Ministers, a flat tax, a law to encourage the ‘greening’ of public spaces and the repealing of Britain’s hand gun ban. Following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, in which 16 schoolchildren were killed, Parliament passed The Firearms Act of 1997, which essentially banned handguns for the atrocity.
But Britons seem unconvinced by the law. The proposer, known as “Colliemum” asked, “…why should only criminals be ‘allowed’ to possess guns and shoot unarmed, defenceless citizens and police officers?”
While the poll continues, so far over 80 percent of the 11,000+ respondents have told the Telegraph that they want to see the handgun ban repealed. The news comes as America contemplates its own new laws on gun ownership, with British talk show host Piers Morgan claiming to back a UK-style ban for the United States.
While gun crime soared after the British ban in 1997, rates of gun violence have fallen, especially in British cities, following more spending by police forces into tackling gun crime. Police in England and Wales recorded 5,911 firearms offences in 2011/12, a reduction of 42 percent compared with nine years earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But statistics from the United States show that guns are used by citizens to defend themselves around eighty times more often than they are used to take a life. A recent study published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy concluded that there is a negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime in countries internationally, that is, “where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest.”
British versus American statistics perhaps displays nothing more than one country investing more in the government response to criminality, while the other maintains a citizen-based response.
Two other options were presented in the Telegraph poll, which were the closing of the child maintenance loophole and a banning of spitting in public. The full results as of 01:36am on Wednesday 29th May, can be seen on the right.