Does UK have a gun problem?
By Jim Scott
Gun violence is rare in the UK compared to the US, according to USA Today in 2016. But as the Metropolitan Police reveals use of force jumps 79 percent in one year including many gun-related crimes and as two men in Liverpool receive bail this week for shooting dead a cyclist. Does Britain have a gun problem?
Over twenty-years-ago Britain saw its most shocking shooting. In 1996, sixteen school children and one teacher were shot dead at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. The shooting was orchestrated and carried out by 43-year-old, Thomas Hamilton on March 13th. In the immediate aftermath the government introduced an amendment to the Firearms Act 1968. The amendment meant only certain individuals could buy and use guns and would need a licence too.
But since then, it has been reported, a loophole around the Firearms Act is allowing criminals to use antique weapons in their dangerous undertakings. The Conversation reports, in the UK "more and more" antique guns are "cropping up in violent crimes" because of limited regulation regarding the sale of guns before 1939.
Under the Firearms Act 1968, antique weapons are exempt, meaning anyone can purchase them. However, antique guns have been made exempt because suitable ammunition is considered extremely hard to find. In 2016 the use of an antique guns came into the spotlight when one gun was reportedly used in the murder of 33-year-old Carl Campbell in the Midlands.
But the threat of guns aren’t just items from a bygone era. In the US, technology helped one student to produce a 3D printed gun. In a landmark case District Judge, Robert Lasnik in Seattle blocked Cody Wilson from reproducing more guns after he created a fully-functional gun whilst studying Law at the University of Texas. Wilson had designed blueprints for a plastic pistol which "could have been release" for use in most 3D printers. In the UK it was reported the Home Office reacted to the case and amended its current legislation regarding gun laws. It added that "3D printed weapons were potentially lethal barrelled weapons" and reinforced a ban preventing its manufacture in 3D printers.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the number of gunshots investigated by police scientists showed an increase of more than 60 percent in the last four years. ITV News said police had warned homemade ammunition and antique guns were one of the drivers behind the figures.
But the BBC reports some Britons want UK gun laws relaxed. According to a report, more than 700,000 people in England and Wales own a form of firearm. It explains firearms, including manually-loaded hand rifles are permitted for use in sports and hunting, but only once the owner has obtained a licence from local police. Some have called for "relaxed" gun laws to help with self-defence.
One gun-owner who uses a gun for hunting purposes said: "Criminals are, I think, laughing at us at the moment.
"They know a lot of people are scared to do anything offensive in their home because of the repercussions." They were citing a focus on mass shootings that "demonised" the gunning community.
The UK’s gun laws are getting stricter. At present firearms can only be used by members of the public for hunting and sport. Owners have to provide safe storage whilst being able to demonstrate to police that they have access to land suitable for its use. But the threat from gun crime still increases. `