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Missing the target

The BBC is to show a series of documentaries exploring the gun and gang culture among Britain’s urban underclass, it said yesterday. The Guns & Gangs Season on BBC2 will look at the rise of gun crime and whether groups such as So Solid Crew contribute to the culture of violence.

For the uninitiated So Solid Crew are at the centre of a debate over rap music and gun crime after a government minister said the increase in violence was down to “idiots like the So Solid Crew glorifying gun culture and violence”. Culture minister Kim Howells was speaking about the shooting of four girls in Birmingham at a New Year party – two of them were killed. Gun crime has doubled in the last five years, and he reckons the music industry is part of the problem:

For years I’ve been very worried about the hateful lyrics that these boasting macho idiots come out with from these rappers and so on, it is a big cultural problem.

There you have it. It is obviously not the fact that you are not allowed to defend yourself but rap music that makes criminals bolder. And the BBC just adds to the blunder. Other programmes in the season include a documentary examining the alleged links between the gun culture and rap music, another about the source of illicit arms and Sons And Guns, about the mothers of men murdered in gang-related killings in Manchester. In the new £97 million BBC2 autumn season, the corporation promises to focus on “the harsh realities of the modern world”.

Oh dear. So off the mark, you can’t even see the target…

10 comments to Missing the target

  • A_t

    “It is obviously not the fact that you are not allowed to defend yourself but rap music that makes criminals bolder.”

    yeah, that’s ridiculous… clearly, but not much more so than your assertion that the rise in gun culture is down to ordinary people not being allowed to defend themselves.

    If this is truly the case, why now? It’s not as though the availability of firearms in this country was suddenly restricted 7 years ago!

    You may have a point suggesting that criminals might be less willing to use guns if the entire populace was armed, but much of the gun crime, certainly murder, that goes on is between criminals, with honest citizens occasionally catching some. The main factor generating these levels of violence between criminals is not regular folk’s inability to fire back, but the amount of money generated by our huge & lucrative illegal drugs market.

    Violence is the only credible way to enforce credit in an illegal trade; that’s the primary problem, not the lack of firearms for the likes of you & me.

    (note: i’m not arguing for or against gun controls per se, just questioning your implied analysis of this particular situation; even with an armed populace, the crack trade in the US doesn’t appear any less vicious.)

  • A-t: I stand by my analysis. It’s not the drug gangs warfare that I refer to, but to things like this

  • R C Dean

    A-t – I believe you will find an increase in crimes of violence and gun crimes beginning just about the time the gun bans were put in place several years ago. Causation is, of course, debatable, but the correlation is suggestive.

    The market in illegal drugs predates even the gun ban, so your question about “why now” cuts at least as much against your theory as it does Gabriel’s.

    Of course, I tend to believe that both exercises of the nanny state contribute their own little bit to the public security disaster now unfolding in England.

  • A_t

    …but no-one’s suggested the Tony Martin affair is symptomatic of rising gun violence. I certainly haven’t heard about any wave of rural shootings. If you’re talking about perceived rising criminality in Britain and the right to self-defense, you may have a point, but that has very little to do with what the BBC show purports to be about. Drug gangs etc. are precisely what it’s talking about; I’d be extremely surprised, to say the least, to hear of any direct connection between So Solid and Tony Martin!

    Having said that, interestingly at least one of the So Solid members who was arrested for posession of a firearm claimed to have it for self defense; quite a convincing argument, as he & his girlfriend had received death threats, & he knew that many on the estate where he lived were jealous of his success. So perhaps there is a connection after all! All Tony Martin supporters, get behind So Solid! :)

  • A_t

    RC Dean, you have a point; admittedly the drug business has been around for a while too, but the recent rise in crack selling/use seems to have gone hand-in-hand with the rise in violence. I know that using the drug does make people paranoid & violent; moreso than any other substance I know of (well, except perhaps alcohol), and the profit levels involved are substantially higher than for most other substances.

    I don’t claim these factors provides a full explanation at all; there are certainly others at work, but again, regardless of the general rights or wrongs of gun control, i fail to see how arming the general populace would affect how many drug dealers murder each other (and occasional ‘civilians’ get caught in the crossfire), or change this culture in any way.

  • S. Weasel

    My only objection to the practice of armed gang members shooting one another is the fact that they frequently miss and clip bystanders.

    Marksmanship training for gang-bangers, I say. They could start by holding the damned handgun right-side up.

  • R.C. Dean

    “i fail to see how arming the general populace would affect how many drug dealers murder each other (and occasional ‘civilians’ get caught in the crossfire), or change this culture in any way.”

    I tend to agree on this point. It would do much to reduce the extraordinarily high levels of other types of crime, though, such as hot burglaries, muggings, etc., which Britain suffers from more than the heavily armed US populace.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    “They could start by holding the damned handgun right-side up.”

    This is funny ‘cuz it’s true, to quote Homer Simpson. The stupid-ass bangers have zero idea how to shoot a pistol and will be wildly inaccurate. This, of course, increases the likelyhood of innocent bystanders being hit. However, if the innocent bystanders are armed (like me), the banger will get some lead back in his direction from someone who does know how to shoot.

    But yes, if they were better shots, they’d just kill even more of each other than they do now and we’d all be better off. Give ‘em shotguns, I say. Close range efficiency and almost zero long-range effect on a miss.

  • Hey in Maine we have a very low property crime rate…and er one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the US. If a criminal has to worry about getting blown away if he invades a house, he is less likely to do it. There are also statistics that show when a state introduces “concealed carry-permits” rapes go down too.

    You take away the guns from the honest types you make them easy prey for criminals. Criminals never have a hard time getting a piece. How long would it take to get a piece in Brixton? About 30 mins or so I hear.

  • A_t

    “How long would it take to get a piece in Brixton? About 30 mins or so I hear.”

    if you were the right person, yeah. For me, i’ve never tried it admittedly, but i reckon it’d be a tad more tricky. I’d be much more likely to get skanked for whatever gun-buying money i’d brought with me than emerge armed & dangerous!

    But the point is, this post wasn’t about home invasions, rapes or anything like that… it was originally about the beeb supposedly “not getting it” when they lent an ear to the idea that rap music etc. have something to do with the percieved rising tide of gun violence in this country. Most gun violence round here isn’t to do with burglaries etc.; it’s stupid gangsters shooting each other, either over drug deals or just over some trivial ‘honour’ bullshit like looking at someone’s girlfriend the wrong way.

    I agree though, that arming people would probably reduce the levels of the crimes you mention, though with the possible risk of increasing the murder rate…. horses for courses.

    But in this case I honestly think the “explosion of gun violence” would be reduced *far* more by legalizing the substances the whole sick trade feeds off than by arming everyone else.

    Furthermore, ridiculous though blaming individual groups, or even styles of music is, i think there *is* an unhealthy culture among some young black males; you can see it in people’s eyes… they have that dead, contemptuous “don’t give a fuck” look about them… cultivating an air of amoral menace. Now, the reasons for this are multiple & complex, and I understand that cultivating a menacing appearance is often useful in an urban context, just so you don’t look like a soft target to those who genuinely are amoral & violent. I’d say the music is much more symptomatic/reportage of the facts than a cause, but there’s definitely a problem there. God knows how to sort it out though.

    All in all, a subject worthy of discussion imho, & although I agree with posters on this site sometimes about BBC bias, one shouldn’t tar the whole corporation with the same brush; just because it does some things you don’t like, and is funded in a manner you’re fundamentally opposed to, doesn’t mean it’s inevitably wrong in it’s outlook.