L. Neil Smith's
Number 48, June 15, 1999

Letters To The Editor

by Our Readers

          I thought Id write a message from a British perspective
          "Oh no", I can hear you say, "not another Englishman passing comment on guns.". I can understand that. For years the gun debate on the net has occasionally been interrupted by voices from another planet -- a British poster repeating, with suitably incredulous tone, the following nonsense:
          "But it's not the Wild West anymore!"
          "That 2nd Amendment was made for the old west, surely its time to become more civilised like us!"
          "Look what happened at Hungerford/Dunblane/Littleton ... how can you support that!"
          "Even our police don't carry guns!"
          "We'd all be scared to go outside, there'd be killings all the time!"
          Most British people do not understand gun issues. Most British people have never seen a real gun, except on the hips of Airport security. Most British people have not held or fired a gun. Most British people would be nervous and wary around a gun, or anyone with a gun. Understandable, but no excuse for this most revealing error in logic;
          "If you can't get a gun you can't do so much damage. Therefore banning them reduces damage".
          That's the fatal blindness of the average Brit -- a belief that by reducing the number of legally held guns in circulation criminals and madmen wont get hold of them. A number of investigative journalists proved how wrong that was in the wake of the Dunblane murders -- none dared suggest that gun control is actually victim disarmament. They showed how guns are regularly smuggled into the UK from Eastern Europe, how criminal gunsmiths re-activate previously de-activated guns, how ammunition is made in basement workshops, how legal shotguns are quickly converted to sawn off shotguns. Prohibition has never worked, all that has happened is the growth of a criminalised black market for guns and the disarmament of every law abiding citizen. When faced with a vicious attacker, especially one with a gun, an Englishpersons lawful duty is to die as helplessly as the grouse our Queens husband likes to shoot.
          Handguns over .22 calibre have been banned since 1997, guns cannot be bought for the explicit reason of self-defence. Owning an illegal gun can land you a 3-year prison sentence, even if you have done nothing with it. The UK has a legislative history of victim disarmament over the last 100 years and ended the century with the only logical conclusion of the first "innocent" piece of legislation - a ban. America now stands where the UK did decades ago, and the legislation in America is coming much thicker and faster than it did in the UK. Americans may, if fortunate, have a few decades before the ban, but it is coming -- unless you stop it. Resisting new gun controls is merely losing slowly; repealing them is the only anti-dote.
          In England between 1997 and 1998 (Notifiable Offences, April 97 to march 98) violence against the person rose 5.1%, life threatening violence rose 6.3%, homicides rose by 13%. Sexual offences rose by 6.3% and rape by 11.1%. Over the last ten years the number of robberies have doubled (despite a fall this year). Each statistic is following a long upward trend. However safe living in Britain is, it appears to be becoming a little less so every year where violence is concerned. Today we as individuals are more helpless than ever before.
          It is well known that (with some exceptions) such crimes are rarer in villages and rural areas. There are many reasons no doubt, such as the unwillingness of criminals to venture outside the city, such as close knit communities with effective neighbourhood watch. There may be another reason, never touched upon in the media. I shall explain it by way of personal experience. Several years ago I used to be a financial advisor in a rural area, many clients were farmers and other country folk. On several occasions I calmly talked finance to a friendly fellow whilst he diligently cleaned his shotgun. It is well known that most farmers, and many other rural people, have a shotgun in the house -- these are the last people in Britain to be "allowed" a gun. If I were a burglar then I would have reasoned that burgling or attacking rural people held the distinct chance that in doing so I might encounter the business end of a loaded shotgun.
          A robber in a free country would reason that attacking anyone anywhere at anytime held the very high chance that in doing so they would likely encounter the business end of a handgun, a rifle, a shotgun or even a machine gun. A madman in a free country would last as long as it takes for the first gun-carrying citizen to aim and fire. A dictatorship trying to establish itself in a free country would find itself facing what any invader of Switzerland would face -- an armed family in every household.
          If the American people lose their liberty then the rest of the world will follow. You're the last place on earth with a law so clear as the second amendment. Keep it, please. Regards

G James


          While I have found the appearance of Bubba and Vampira at Columbine disgusting, (watching them battening on the blood of the deceased and the living), there is something else that is sickening as well.
          Recently, even People's Republic Radio (aka N.P.R.) has had on several shows several qualified psychologists, and they have had the nerve to actually look at the behavior of the two shooters. What they come up with is this: many (perhaps most) of these school shootings are particularly grandiose suicides. This is not as strange as it may seem at first. Suicide, as any text on the subject will tell you, is a very angry act. Most suicides are striking out at the world around them. Therefore, it is not strange that, in such a situation, they might decide to take the people they hate most with them. It also explains their calm self-extinguishment at the end of the shooting. Suicide, and suicide pacts, are not unknown among adolescents--in fact, suicide is traditionally one of the more common forms of death among teenagers.
          However, here is the most interesting item. Suicide is very contageous. This is not a new observation. It is quite common for suicides, and suicides of a particular type, to occur in clusters. One of the worst things you can do, if you wish to limit such suicides, is to publicize them. Tradionally, newspapers keep away from overpublicising adolescent suicides, because this is a well-known and well-established risk.
          What happens, however, when the Motormouth-in-Chief sees an opportunity? Clinton's people have psychologists on staff, I am sure. If not, the Presidential Science Advisor knows the studies, and can get the necessary experts to try to talk down to Willie long enough that even he might understand.
          However, when it is obvious that they had a contingency plan, ready to go into action the moment any usable event occurred, to further push their political agenda -- the destruction of the Bill of Rights -- and they went to it with the fervor of starving attack dogs, what happens?
          Another shooting at a school, that's what.
          Guns are not responsible for shootings, individuals are. And, while Slick, and the rest of the people who believe in disarming the proles and turning them into good, law-abiding targets, are morally responsible, at least in part, for the columbine shootings, they are directly responsible for the shootings that occurred one month later in Idaho. The publicity created a "copycat" suicide attempt, as was easily predictable from well-known prior science. However, what are a few deaths, here and there, when there is a political agenda to be pushed? At least, that is clearly Clinton's belief.
          However, that is no suprise.

Michael W. Gallagher

Dear Vin:

          I've read the many messages generated by your column on the police shooting of a man armed with a deadly basketball. Most of those from policemen sooner or later get around to, "You don't know what it's like; until you've walked a mile in my jackboots -- er, shoes, shut up!"
          In the early 1970s, I spent three years and about 40 hours a month -- about 1440 hours -- "riding along", usually on swing or graveyard shift with a friend who happened to be a policeman in my home town. Day and night in all weather, I did residential and commercial patrols, bar checks, and responded to burglar alarms, broken doors, high speed chases, barking dogs, and man-with-a-gun calls. I'd say that adds up to a little more than a mile in the other guy's shoes, wouldn't you?
          Eventually, I became a full-fledged police reservist with false arrest insurance and the whole nine yards. In those days, most police officers were genuinely concerned with the terrible relationship they'd had with the public since the 60s. They were tired of being called "pigs". They wanted to be respected and respectable parts of the community.
          The trouble is, that isn't possible when you get to carry a pistol and a shotgun and nobody else does, and where people have to do what you tell them or (quite aside from being shot and killed) they get beaten with a club, sprayed with noxious chemicals, shocked with electricity, hogtied, kidnapped, and thrown into a huge toilet with a bunch of animals.
          So things got worse instead of better.
          I've written a lot about police policy (even a couple of novels) and I have lots of ideas. I won't go into them now, but I will say that you are much closer to the truth than your correspondents. The whole notion of policing needs massive, radical reform. It should start with a fully armed citizenry practicing Vermont Carry, fully informed juries practicing their 1000-year-old right and duty to judge the law, and fully indoctrinated cops who know that their first duty as "law enforcement officers" is to stringently enforce the Bill of Rights.
          Keep up the good work,

L. Neil Smith
Author, The Probability Broach

[Dear Vin:]

          First, let me thank you for your response to my e-mail to you on "Send in the Waco Killers".
          While I was reading your book, for some reason, I wondered what definition my dictionary contained for the Second Amendment. I was shocked and angered to find the following definition, which is a direct quote from "New Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language", School, Home and Office Edition, Copyright 1992 by Lexicon Publications, Inc.:
          "Second Amendment (1791) amendment to the U.S. Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, that protects the right of citizens to maintain a state militia and to 'keep and bear arms.' State militias are represented by National Guard units, regulated by state governments. The right to keep and bear arms does not necessarily apply to individuals for individual purposes and does not preclude state regulation of arms."
          If you haven't already written something on this type of mis-information concerning the Second Amendment, I, for one, would sure like to see you do so.


Hi, Ray --

          That's amazing. And while it's literally true that the Second Amendment didn't preclude "state" regulation of arms (as opposed to actions by the federal Congress) ... that changed with ratification of the 14th Amendment, which specifically bans the several states from depriving citizens of the rights guaranteed under the federal bill of rights.
          What's more, the specific purpose of the 14th was to stop white Southern sheriffs from depriving returning black Civil War veterans of their arms.
          Yet the dictionary in question does seem to have been written after 1868!

-- V.S.

Next to advance to the next article, or
Previous to return to the previous article, or
Table of Contents to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 48, June 15, 1999.