July 9th, 2013

DunblaneAndy Murray, victor on Sunday of the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon, was with his brother Jamie a fortunate survivor of the Dunblane school massacre on 13 March 1996.

A previous massacre in the similarly bucolic English town of Hungerford in 1987 led to a ban on personal ownership of semi-automatic rifles. The Dunblane killings were carried out with handguns. These were subsequently also effectively banned, apart from heavily regulated clubs.

There have not been any school shootings in Britain since. There was a street shooting spree in Cumbria in 2010, in which the perpetrator used a shotgun and .22 rifle, both licensed. This did not lead to any further gun control legislation. I don’t know if police checks before issuing licenses have become tougher.

Britain has a gun crime problem – among hard-core criminal gangs in a few big cities. Their armourers, facing long prison sentences if discovered, must be very prudent men. I imagine their background checks to weed out agents provocateurs rival those of the police, and a lone nutter would get nowhere near one of their expensive weapons.

IN 2011 the UK recorded 38 firearms homicides.


Please confine comments to gun issues related to the UK and similar countries. We don’t need further advertisements for the Second Amendment. The arms clauses in the 1689 Bill of Rights are not treated in Britain as part of the living constitution.

11 Responses to “Murray’s Dunblane”

  1. Ken Rhodes says:

    James, you are a mean man.

    No advertisements in this thread for our U.S. Second Amendment? You’re suppressing free speech, violating our First Amendment. That, of course, also constitutes Cruel and Unusual Punishment (for certain of our regulars), thereby violating our Eighth Amendment.

    And then you expect us to comment on gun issues in the UK? Gosh, James, I didn’t realize there ARE any gun issues in the UK.

  2. I’m King George here and my rule is enlightened. What is it with these colonials?

  3. Anderson says:

    Sounds like gun control works. Who knew?

  4. chris y says:

    The arms clauses in the 1689 Bill of Rights are not treated in Britain as part of the living constitution.

    Probably as well, since it explicitly permits only Protestants to bear arms (I notice Wikipedia gets that wrong). Not that I’d be surprised to learn that the American religious right would like to see a similar restriction.

    One remark about gun issues in Britain: if the cops think you’re carrying a gun in public, even if you’re not threatening anybody, they have a tendency to shoot you. And since the British police call on trained marksmen when they think somebody needs shooting, they usually hit something vital.

  5. Ebenezer Scrooge says:

    My impression is that Japan (the world’s safest society; they must have a law against crime) is pretty similar to the UK. Guns are highly prized among the yakuza.

    Once James stripped us of our Second Amendment rights, the First and Eighth became automatically inoperative. The NRA constantly reminds us that Second Amendment is the guarantor of all other rights (except perhaps the right to life.)

    • Not quite. The rural lobby ensures that shotguns and .22 rifles are still available for hunting. These were the weapons used in the 2010 spree, after which nothing changed. Japan is I believe much more restrictive.

  6. Keith Humphreys says:

    Australia also implemented strict gun control after a gun massacre (Port Arthur) and hasn’t had one since.

  7. I wasn’t in this post trying to do any real analysis, just remind readers of some interesting data points and the extreme contrast between the USA and other advanced countries on gun regulation and gun deaths.

    The British rate of gun sprees (more or less one a decade) looks actually quite high given the low annual rate of gun homicides. It’s harder to prevent sprees than to reduce gun deaths generally. Since that was Mark’s more informed argument after Sandy Hook, I offer the data as corroboration.

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