In America, where guns are easily available and the firearms laws are liberal, thirty people are shot and murdered every day.  In Great Britain, where gun ownership is restricted and the firearms laws are strict, there have been thirty gun homicides in the last ten months.  The UK’s gun death rate, one of the lowest among industrialised countries, is nearly one-fiftieth of that of the US.  This huge difference reflects the fact that there is a direct correlation between the level of gun ownership in a country and its gun death rate.   Given this, one has to question why anyone, and especially anyone associated with a major political party, would suggest that Britain adopts America’s liberal gun ownership laws.  But this is just what Donal Blaney has been advocating.

Blaney is the leader of the Young Britons’ Foundation, an offshoot of the Conservative party’s youth wing.  At least 11 Tory parliamentary candidates have been involved with the YBF, which has organised radicalising trips to the US that have included firearms training courses.

No one doubts that gun crime remains a worrying problem in the UK, but its scale is often exaggerated and the contribution of weapons such as airguns and imitation guns downplayed.  It is claimed that tightening the British gun laws, especially the prohibition of handguns, has failed to stop gun crime, indeed that gun crime here has been “spiralling out of control”.  But that flies in the face of all the recent data which show the total number of firearm offences falling steadily for the last five years, the number of gun homicides at its lowest for at least twenty years and the number of gun injuries down by more than half in the last six years.  These trends have been ignored, not just by Blaney and those who want wider gun ownership but also by senior Conservatives who use distorted gun crime data to push their Broken Britain agenda.  The fear of gun crime is very strong, and whatever the motives it is cynical to play on this and inflate these fears.

At the heart of Blaney’s position, however, is the idea that it is good for individuals to own guns, yet there is no objective evidence that this makes for a safer society.  A gun in the home actually increases the risk that a member of the household will be shot and killed.  The slaughter of thousands of US citizens each year shows just how poorly widespread gun ownership protects the population as a whole.  Ultimately the arguments used by those advocating liberal gun laws are based on their own obsessions, their need to possess and handle weapons whatever the cost to others. 

Firearms legislation should have little to do with individual rights and all to do with public safety.  Until 1996 this country’s policy on gun legislation was unduly influenced by the shooters who felt their needs should be put before the safety of the general public.  All that changed when a gun club member shot a class of infants at Dunblane Primary School, killing sixteen of them and their teacher.  Legally-owned guns are not immune from abuse, indeed they are still frequently used in school and workplace shootings in the US and elsewhere.  Widening gun ownership would simply expand not restrict their unlawful use.

The views of Donal Blaney and the gun-toting activities of the YBF are a reminder to those who care about protecting the public from guns that we need to remain vigilant.  The risk of being a victim of gun crime in the UK is thankfully very low, a situation which must never be compromised by a radical libertarian agenda.

For more background information see the following articles in The Guardian:

GCN has also sent a letter to Conservative leader David Cameron seeking reassurances that

an incoming Conservative government will not tamper with or 'liberalise' the UK's gun laws.


Posted: 11 March 2010



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Liberal Gun Laws


Gun Crime Figures

January 2010

January 2009




Airgun Crime


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Gun Lobby Abuse

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Ball-bearing & Non-Powder Guns (June 05)

Lethal Airguns (Mar 05)

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