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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Critics of Lucy Cope + this blog's stance on carrying guns & knives

I've just published three comments made on my opinion about the BBC's Big Questions debate today on guns in Britain. You can view them here. Here's my response to some of the points made.

As people who are familiar with this blog are aware, I publish only facts when it comes to crime statistics. The anonymous poster (yet another anonymous critic that sometimes hides behind 'no name / identity' to snipe at me on this blog) questioned this factual statement that I made:

"Sadly the statistics show people are more likely to end up stabbed if they actually carry a knife. The same would undoubtedly happen with guns."
Well, the answer to that is contained in the government campaign described in this BBC news article about knife crime and the fact s/he has queried is promoted by none other than the Association of Chief Police Officers - so feel free to contact them to discuss this issue.

[This fact has been queried by some blog readers so here's a link for people to do their own research and form their own conclusions - various knife crime research sources are shown including the Royal Armouries knife crime literature review. Really, people need to step back and see common sense here... if you carry a knife and that blade is turned on you, you are more likely to be hurt by it. And also - ultimately, if you carry a weapon (even for genuine protection) you are not being peaceable. There's simply no justification for any irresponsible escalation of violence that leads to stabbing or shooting.]

Criticising Lucy Cope, a mother who has lost a son to gun crime, is insensitive, unfeeling, unhelpful and marks that person out to be someone who does not understand the perils of carrying weapons. If there was a case for guns to be allowed to be carried across the UK, s/he just undermined it.

Reflecting a little further, I think the aggressive nature and style of these comments highlight the importance of not giving aggressive people free access to guns.

I feel no shame questioning a man who publicly advocates carrying guns - quite the opposite, I feel right to do it. Showell's is not a peaceful mission. The words 'peaceful' and 'gun carrier' make no sense at all and cannot go together. That said, weapons sometimes have to be used in self-defence - but allowing ordinary, untrained citizens of a nation to arm themselves in an apparently arbitrary fashion lacks, at the very least, plain common sense.


  1. "It should be remembered that you are more likely to be a victim of knife crime by carrying a knife, rather than a knife protecting you."

    This statement is not based on any statitical data whatsoever and is merely an assumption.

    I'd agree with the notion that knives are not the ideal tool for defending one's self. Pepper spray, an expanding baton or electric stun guns surpass in terms of effectiveness and humane attributes. Unfortunately, all are illegal for the law-abiding to carry

    Do understand, the majority of people in favour of armed self defence are entirely aware of the devistating consequences of armed criminals and share exactly the same concerns about growing youth violence, many being victims themselves.

    Unfortunately, leaving only criminals armed (the law of carrying weapons does not deter someone willing to actually commit murder/assault) has ensured victims have absolutely no legal way of defending themselves past bare hands. You're heart is in the right place by focusing on the issue of knife violence, though you are misguided on how people both individually and collectively can deter/defend against it.

  2. For the record, it is important to state again that the statistically-based fact come from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) - I tend to believe them over an anonymous blog comment. If this is not believed, again I say contact ACPO directly. The data is also specifically cited in a Royal Armouries document (I've added the link to it above - look at p23).

  3. "Finally, the data for both groups also indicate that young people who
    have been victims of an offence are more likely to carry a knife, than
    those who have not been a victim. Over a third (36 per cent) of young
    people in mainstream education who have been a victim carry a knife,

    Finally, the data for both groups also indicate that young people who
    have been victims of an offence are more likely to carry a knife, than
    those who have not been a victim."


    This does not indicate that if you carry a knife you are more likely to be stabbed by one. Not even that if you carry a knife for self-defence you are more likely to be stabbed than deter. All this does indicate is that young people who have failed to be protected from crime by the police have resorted to carrying a weapon themselves for protection, which in my opinion is perfectly understandable.

    The statistics cited do not indicate that '36 percent of people who were stabbed happened to be carrying a knife themselves', which many are confusing statements based of off the questionaire data to mean.

    Again, knives aren't an ideal means of self-defence. Despite the laws, people carry knives, that's why legalizing pepper spray, electric stun guns or batons would create a much more desirable alterantive for potential future victims. The police are allowed to have them for self-defence, are we less important? Is the life of a victim living in a high crime area not worthy of immidiate, effective self defence?

    I must add that it's appreciated that you are participating in an actual debate and presenting information that you base your arguements on.

  4. It is irritating again to have to reply to an anonymous comment - like weapons, prejudiced, biased people hide behind anonymity. Anyhow, I've adjusted the post because I mis-read the Royal Armouries document. Trust that helps clarify.

  5. "ultimately, if you carry a weapon (even for genuine protection) you are not being peaceable. There's simply no justification for any irresponsible escalation of violence that leads to stabbing or shooting."

    Not every criminal encounter involves someone who just wants your wallet. Unfortunately in society, there are sadistic people who do not respond to any kind of reasoning whatsoever. Rape, violent assault and attempted murder cannot be thwarted without esculation of violent counter action on behalf the victim.

    As Graham said, people here are defenceless. He was when he was violently attacked one night. What is 'Reasonable force' for a women being raped? Any weapon in public is illegal. Even if you carry a walking stick for self-defence, you are breaking the law.

    Here's an artical you should read:

    People willing to commit murder will carry weapons regardless of laws. The only thing standing in the way of an armed criminal is an armed law abider.

  6. Another anonymous criticism. Interesting articles in above comments - but still, I for one do not want to proceed down the American path of carrying guns - any other way but that, in fact. Everyone arming themselves because everyone is afraid of the next person in the street is a ridiculous society to end up with. I wouldn't vote for that (which I assume is what the Libertarian Party are advocating in the first article above).

  7. "Everyone arming themselves because everyone is afraid of the next person in the street is a ridiculous society to end up with."

    The American path? You clearly never lived in America did you... Gun laws in America are reasonable, they ban serious criminals from possessing firearms and it is a crime to leave firearms in a state that they could be found/used by anyone not allowed to use them.

    The result (in states with a large proportion of gun ownership) is lower crime rates, the fear of being potentially killed is more effective on a criminal than the fear of judicial retribution.

    Most of the imagery of "Gun culture", the frightening imagery anyway, comes from states with very strict gun laws, like California and Texas. The imagery of gangsters driving round with weapons that anti-gun people like to talk about? That's illegal, they're still breaking the law.

    And here's the problem with laws, criminals don't follow them. By definition. When the 1997 act came through, the strictest gun control laws, criminals didn't give their guns up, by definition. Now we have a scenario where the only people possessing firearms are criminals, doesn't that make you more nervous?

    You can say we don't live in a society where "everyone is afraid of the next person in the street", because there's no point worrying, there's no legal/safe way to resist, so you may as well go along with everything. (I'd also like to mention you support M.A.G. which exists because people do, in fact, still have this fear.)

    It isn't that hard to obtain a weapon in this country, as is fairly obvious, however due to the ways of being caught it's only worth having one if you intend to use it, which is why there are so many armed robberies compared to say 13+ years ago. Massacres are terrible things but these are compulsive crimes, law has never been able to stop compulsive criminals (except for armed police) but I still see massacres used as reasons to ban guns. You feel happy to have a system of collective responsibility on this issue, yet I'm sure you would not feel the same on issues like Alcohol or Driving, both of which do, have and always will kill more each year than any form of gun related incidents, even in the dreaded USA.

    I mean, for the love of God, Derrick Bird wandered round for about 2 hours shooting people, do you really think that's a better outcome than most of the citizenry armed and able to stop him?

    To use an more dramatic analogy, imagine it's the cold war, criminals are the USSR, normal civilians on the west. Both sides have nuclear weapons, devices used purely to kill people. Now say the west decides that it's going to abandon EVERY nuclear weapon in it's arsenal, unconditionally. Would you honestly expect the opposite side to do the exact same?

    Heck that's not even accurate enough, as people have pointed out, vast arrays of measures deemed non-lethal protection are banned as well, it's like the west completely dissolved any military power, do you really think people that want you dead, or servile, or whatever they want will stop, purely out of the fact that they may eventually end up in prison?

    I just hate these sorts of arguments which end up harming the people they think they are saving.

    Lucy Cope has suffered the most terrible loss a person can have, but that doesn't make her statements completely immune to any form of criticism. Politics may run off of emotionalism and sensationalism, but the law has to be cold and carefully measured, it's the only way to ensure that it is actually fair.

    (and on a point I noticed a while ago, you mentioned the dangers of UNTRAINED armed citizenry, I and most pro-gun people, agree with you here, it's not like you'd let someone with no driving lessons drive a car, it's an obvious point that legal ownership would require training)

  8. Also, I also want to point out that we live in a country where you can't even try and actively stop guns without facing potential jail time.


    He was eventually freed, but look at the statements by the Judge, that's frightening.

  9. I'm wondering what you think of Lucy's demands that a women like this be jailed for 10 years. Does having a gun always mean you are 'bound to use it on someone'?

    - Grandmother sentenced for 5 years over antique WW2 pistol -

  10. Sir, whe someone is waveing a knife in your face or worse a illegal firearm the violence is already escalated. i can strongly agree with a knife for self defence as a bad idead their is no distance between you and your attacker and unless you are a 250lb man you are not going to be able to kock down your attacker with it. (and then whats wrong with a good old punch if you are that able too)

    by cary a firearm for self defence is the ONLY true protection against rape or assualt. no one no matter who you are will RISK being shot. if someone pulls a pistol on you (in self defence) and you have wronged them you will be scared and you will cease to attack.

    Repeat offenders do not care about violence it is how they make their money. escalating it can not be done when your life is in danger, you only escalate the danger and risk for the assailent.

    i dont like repeat offenders i like DEAD offenders. and if that makes me a evil person then so be it. when my life... when my FAMILY lives are safe. that is all i care about.

  11. Sir, While I believe that Lucy Cope has had a terrible loss - probably one that I will never be able to comprehend as I am not yet a father - I do not believe that this makes her immune to criticism. If anything, her involvement undermines your efforts to outlaw firearms as she is clearly driven by emotion, and showed this very strongly during the television show. And you'll forgive me if I question Lucy's stance on the story of the elderly woman being raped - that the preferable alternative for the elderly woman owning a firearm was for her to own a panic alarm. While I can see the argument here, I believe that it is alarming where an abuser of our most vulnerable citizens is potentially allowed to go scott free when the police cannot intervene in time. The point is here, an elderly woman is incapable of defending herself effectively most of the time, and a gun makes for a crude equalizer. When I say equalizer, I mean that physical strength or height plays little or no role in the functioning of a firearm compared to a knife, where a stronger, taller opponent can easily over power a rival. Because of this, citizens most at risk of attack (the weak, the old, the crippled etc) have a means of defending themselves - the same goes for items like 'pepper spray' and 'tazers'.
    The firearm in question doesn't even need to the criminal to prevent the crime from happening, as a survey of imprisoned criminals in the U.S showed that 34% of criminals had either been "scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim."(1) This shows that firearms can be a crime PREVENTER as well as a potential crime cause.
    I am a firm believer in that certain prevention is better than uncertain cure, which could be described as a criminal being having to think twice before he decides to attack that young/old lady, as opposed to the same lady being maimed/killed/raped and the criminal having to be punished - we will never know if the criminal incarcerated in jail will be rehabilitated, but we will always know that it's a positive thing if a person can walk down a street without fear of being attacked.

    I hope my comments are taken constructively and helpful in debate.

    (source for my statistic about prevention: )


    The above is a link to the crime rate in the US State of Texas. After 1994, Concealed Carry (carrying a firearm out of plain sight in public) became legal. As you will see from the chart, Texas is currently experiencing it's lowest murder rate in recorded history, thus rebutting your statement of "but allowing ordinary, untrained citizens of a nation to arm themselves in an apparently arbitrary fashion lacks, at the very least, plain common sense". Have a nice day.

  13. I still think this view (of yet another 'anonymous' person) is flawed. It starts from the premise that a high gun crime rate was curbed by a 'conceal weapon' law change.

    Fundamentally, this is flawed because there was high gun use to start with. We don't have high gun use in the UK - we must continue to live and work on that basis. More liberal gun carrying laws would lead to worse death and injury tolls. That mustn't happen - period.

    For those interested, this piece does analyse the Texas crime figures... better and more intelligently than good ole 'anonymous' above -

    It clearly advocates gun CONTROL; we must keep our strict controls in place, as strict as possible.

  14. Hi Mark.

    Reading the article you have linked to - I see nowhere in it an advocation of gun control as a solution to violent crime. In fact, the article is clearly presenting the opposite - that gun control in the US has had absolutely zero effect on both the crime rates and criminal use of firearms and has instead ensured that people have no way to defend themselves against a criminal class who carry weapons regardless of the law.

    "What about the experience of other countries? In 1997, just 12 months after a new gun law went into effect in Australia, homicides jumped 3.2 percent, armed robberies 44 percent, and assaults 8.6 percent. In the state of Victoria, homicides went up 300 percent. Before the law was passed, statistics showed a steady decrease in armed robberies with firearms. In 1998, in the state of South Australia, robbery with a firearm increased nearly 60 percent. In 1999, the assault rate in New South Wales rose almost 20 percent."

  15. Gun control is written about positively at the end of that article, David:

    "States which have passed concealed-carry laws have seen their murder rate fall by 8.5 percent, rapes by 5 percent, aggravated assaults by 7 percent and robbery by 3 percent.

    "Texas is a good example. In the early 1990s, Texas’s serious crime rate was 38 percent above the national average. Since then, serious crime in Texas has dropped 50 percent faster than for the nation as a whole. All this happened after passage of a concealed-carry law in 1994."

  16. Hi Mark.

    By 'concealed-carry laws', the author is referring to legislation ALLOWING the concealed carry of firearms for self defence. After 1994, Texas introduced legislation ALLOWING concealed carry of handguns for self-defence (after a permit has been issued). This has not been aligned with rising gun violence, but actually a drop in both the use of guns in crime and the violent crime rate in general.

    Ask a criminal in Texas who they're more afraid of - a policeman or their chosen victim being armed and fully backed by the law to defend themselves. The key to both deterring and countering violent crime is at a practical front-line level - not somewhere after the fact has occurred.

  17. For the UK, it's a downward spiral in a negative direction, likely to lead to more deaths and injuries (not less). Unacceptable.

    I repeat what I've said to 'Anonymous' and anonymous 'David': Your views are flawed. They start from a premise that a high gun crime rate was curbed by a 'conceal weapon' law change.

    Fundamentally, this is flawed because there was high gun use to start with. We don't have high gun use in the UK - we must continue to live and work on that basis. One part of the solution could be to best contain gun use by criminals, more strictly if possible.

    On the issue of peacefully solving issues... fear of you with a (hidden) gun is not a peaceful answer to life's problems; it's quite the opposite. It's a 'violence stand-off'.

    It becomes a more difficult issue were (UK) society to 'degenerate' (which the UK riots seem to be a sign of) - but that should be the police and Government's problem to address and solve.

    Thousands of people concealing guns on their person throughout the UK - what a terrible vision that conjures up :'-( Great for the weapons business though, sad to say - and it's the weapons business that milks fear, generating a market for its products: "Buy a gun from my shop; the streets are scary out there."

    Absolutely, 100%, fundamentally, the wrong direction for world societies to head, I say.

  18. People being able to defend themselves = more people successfully defending themselves.

    Let's say you are approached by a couple of youths. They follow you, shouting abuse, acting aggressively.

    Which will benefit you more in that situation should it escalate:

    1. A weapon (Pepper spray, baton, stun gun, firearm etc)

    2. No weapon.

    (The group are acting outside of the law in both situations and will be illegal armed - you may have obtained your personal defence weapon via a licence and training course, they of course would not have.)

    Currently in the UK, you cannot legally carry ANYTHING for self defence (Except if you are a police officer..). Doesn't that sound horribly draconian and counter productive to you? How are people to defend themselves under these circumstances?

  19. Another "anonymous" comment, since I have none of the accounts listed as posting options or the desire to have them.

    Figures from ACPO can't be relied on, as ACPO is a political organisation with a political agenda. It perpetuates the politicisation of the police service largely begun by the Labour government voted in in 1997.

    That said, what you're arguing here is pure emotion. You don't want a UK where people are armed. That's your personal desire for the future of this country. You don't care if people are murdered, you think people having firearms is bad. Why you think that only you know. I think the opposite. I want to be able to own and use a firearm to protect my wife and myself. I want to be able to protect my property from criminals who want to take it. Why should someone take, by force, what I have justly earned by the sweat of my brow? Explain to me why it's ok for that to happen, but not ok for me to point a gun at that criminal and prevent it from happening. I've heard it said that it's not right for someone to be killed over property, money or whatever. If someone threatens you and demands your wallet, you should hand it over rather than use force to defend yourself and your property. To that I say, why should I? If someone attacks me and I kill that person, who is responsible for the death, me or them? I was just going about my business, they initiated a violent confrontation leading to their own death. So who's at fault?

    I don't want to kill anyone, but I'd be prepared to do so in self-defence or defence of those for whom I am responsible. As it stands I don't have the means to defend myself or those for whom I am responsible. The law has taken those means away. I and everyone else has the inalienable right to life, and the right to life means the right to defend my own life. The right to life is recognised by the UN, the EU and the Human Rights Act in English law, yet the means to defend my own life is denied by those same powers. Make sense of that if you can.

    You claim that arming oneself is inherently a violent act. I say you're wrong, and arguing from a false premise. No one has anything to fear from me and a weapon I carry unless they try to harm me. In the words of Will Smith, if you don't start nothin', won't be nothin'.


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