By: José Niño
The United Kingdom is often marketed as a model of tough gun control that the United States should follow. Its firearms laws are among the strictest of developed countries. In essence, it has no concept of a Second Amendment, and lawful citizens are often at the mercy of criminals who use blunt objects, blades, and even firearms to carry out violence.
A group of gang members who were arrested last November finally received convictions late last month for a total of 50 years among them. The criminals were arrested during a raid in southern England about a year ago. Law enforcement seized three illegal firearms during this encounter.
"If [the guns] would have ended up in criminal hands on the streets of Bristol, the consequences would be just unimaginable," declared Detective Chief Inspector Simon Dewfall, who was in charge of the operation launched against the gang members.
According to a report by CBS News, there has been a rise in the number of illegal firearms being smuggled into the island nation. Roughly 900 of the illegal firearms that have been seized during the past three years came from the U.S. This figure also includes the aforementioned firearms that were seized last November.
“What we are seeing is an upward trend of guns coming out of gun stores in America and the parcel service is being used to ship them to the U.K. and into criminal hands," Dewfall observed.
At the moment, the U.K. is dealing with record levels of knife crime. In 2019, there were approximately 46,000 incidents of knife crime. With guns potentially entering the mix, the U.K. could be in for a nasty crime wave. From March 2018 to March 2019, the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics released a report documenting 9,800 criminal offenses with firearms involved. This figure marked a 4 percent increase from 2018.
British officials are taking notice of U.S. firearms making their way to the U.K.
"In 2015, after detecting a significant increase in U.S. firearms seizures destined for the U.K., the HIS [Homeland Security Investigations] London office partnered with the Metropolitan Police Service and the (National Crime Agency) to develop a proactive firearms smuggling operation," said James Mancuso, a former HSI London Attaché. "For example, two defendants convicted of attempting to receive a semi-automatic handgun had extensive criminal histories, to include fatally stabbing a rival gang member at a busy train station."
Although there will be a lot of attention given to the American origin of these firearms, where they come from does not matter. What this case illustrates is that criminals will always find ways to acquire firearms. Even in an island nation with strict gun control laws such as the U.K., criminals can still get a hold of weapons. In the last decade or so, knives have been the preferred weapon for man criminals. But now, it seems that criminals have figured out ways to reliably get their hands on firearms.
British authorities can try to stem the flow of guns all they want, but it seems the criminals will do everything they can to obtain firearms. In the midst of all of this, lawful British citizens are unable to defend themselves. Reasonable people would come to the conclusion that allowing for lawful individuals to be armed would be a much more pragmatic way of establishing deterrence against criminals. The U.K. should take this into account and recognize that its current gun policies only leave its citizens vulnerable against criminals who are ready – and obviously able – to circumvent every law possible to prey upon the innocent.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at email@example.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.