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Guns, libertarians and criminal certainty

I’m new to bloggery, so please everyone bear with me while I get the hang of it.

Guns. Much is made by libertarians of mass civilian gun ownership, and this does matter, especially politically. But with crime, the mere right of civilians to own a gun, even if most of us choose not to exercise that right, is, I surmise, critical.

If you are thinking of becoming a career criminal, then the difference between a world in which just a few civilians are weird enough to own guns and crazy enough to use them against intruders, and one in which such people are so rare as to be for all practical purposes non-existent… is all the difference. It’s the difference between being shot on about your hundredth robbing expedition (i.e. quite soon), and not being shot ever.

The difference between half the population being armed and all of it being armed is, in contrast, not much of a difference. So, you get to do about one unmolested robbery before the hospital or the morgue beckons, instead of no robberies at all. Not a big distinction.

I sense that we in Britain have perhaps – what with all the new restrictions following the Dunblane massacre – moved from the first of these two gun-worlds to the second.

For decades, the number of robberies you could hope to get away with before getting seriously hurt has been climbing steadily, but you still had to be very short-sighted to become a robber. That didn’t stop everyone, but it did stop most. Gun wimps like me could live safe from most potential robbers, because the robbers didn’t know for sure that we were all gun wimps.

Now, everyone’s a gun wimp. Now, I surmise, robbers can reasonably hope to rob for life.

I have a personal stake in this. On the radio a couple of years ago I announced that there was a big increase in violent crime under way, not because I knew this to be true, but because for the sake of my argument I needed it to be true. (I wasn’t expecting a gun argument, and hadn’t been attending to recent crime news properly.) Sadly, it seems that I was right.

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