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Malcolm in WSJ: Cautionary Tales of Gun Control

Writing in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm suggests that Americans determined to avoid massacres such as that perpetrated in Newtown, Connecticut, should take a harder look at the examples of stringent gun control measures in Great Britain and Australia before calling for such actions in the U.S.

"Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven't made their people safer, nor have they prevented massacres," writes Malcolm. "The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don't provide much evidence that strict gun control laws will solve our problems."

Within a decade of Britain's Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban of handguns and their confiscation from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled, according to British government crime reports, says Malcolm.

Meanwhile, Australia's National Firearms agreement, which banned some and restricted other firearms, and a forced buyback system costing $500 million have produced only a modest decline of firearms homicides, while other forms of violence have escalated, according to the sources cited in the article. 

Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control, The Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2012. By Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Excerpt:
"A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison.

"The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

"Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who have come into the possession of a firearm, even accidentally, have been harshly treated. In 2009 a former soldier, Paul Clarke, found a bag in his garden containing a shotgun. He brought it to the police station and was immediately handcuffed and charged with possession of the gun. At his trial the judge noted: 'In law there is no dispute that Mr. Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant.' Mr. Clarke was sentenced to five years in prison. A public outcry eventually won his release."

Read the article

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