Monday, February 19, 2007

British gun crime spreading: "Gun crime is being exported from the inner cities to the shires, the senior officer in charge of the national firearms policing strategy has told The Times. Keith Bristow, lead officer on firearms crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers, was speaking as Scotland Yard battled to contain the violence in London, where one man was shot dead and another injured over the weekend.... But as the death toll mounted in the capital, Mr Bristow gave warning that the gun problem was moving to the shires. The proportion of gun crime occurring outside the hotspots of London, Birmingham and Manchester has risen sharply from 36 per cent in 2002-03 to 45 per cent in 2004-05. The spread of gangs and guns to smaller cities and provincial towns went “hand in hand” with the expanding market for crack cocaine, said Mr Bristow, who attributed the displacement in part to a tough police response in the big cities.... The typical pattern is that a crack dealer establishes a trade in an area but, when that becomes saturated, it generates competition and violence between drug dealers and more robust policing. These factors force some of the dealers to go elsewhere in search of new markets. They bring their guns with them.” He cautioned against the view that firearms were only a problem for the black community. “It is much more about where you went to school and whom you hang out with than about ethnicity.”

British government still thrashing at the air: "Tony Blair announced a major review of firearms laws today in the wake of five fatal shootings in London but insisted once again that the wave of gun crime sweeping British cities was “a specific problem within a specific criminal culture” rather than a reflection of wider social ills. A man was shot in the leg in North West London overnight as armed gangs continued to show their contempt for the law. Another man was shot dead in East London yesterday and three others wounded in shootings in Manchester. The attacks follow a spate of gun murders in South London, including the deaths of three teenage boys in the past fortnight which provoked a national debate on youth crime and prompted the Prime Minister to order a review of gun laws. Mr Blair said today that he was considering various proposals, including lowering the age at which the mandatory five-year sentence for carrying a gun can be imposed from 21 to 17 to remove the incentive for gang leaders to give guns to minors. He also confirmed his backing for a New York-style crackdown in which police could be given new powers to mount surveillance on the homes of people suspected of possessing and using firearms.... The Prime Minister said that a proposed law change to make gang membership an aggravating factor in sentencing was “the correct thing to do”.... As teams of armed police patrolled South London another man was murdered in the east of the capital yesterday. Gunmen shot a 28-year-old man in his car in Hackney before blasting him again as he tried to escape. A witness reported seeing three black men walking “confidently” away."

British Libertarians respond to mounting British gun deaths: "The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties policy institute, today calls on the British Government to take firm action over the shootings of young men in South London. It believes the best action would be to relegalise guns and let ordinary people fight back with lethal force against the violent criminals who presently rule the streets of our cities. Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Sean Gabb, says: "The Libertarian Alliance believes in a return to the wise laws of our ancestors, under which a person could walk into a gun shop and, without showing a licence or any form of identification, buy as many guns and as much ammunition as he pleased, and could keep these at home, or carry them about in public, for the defence of his life or property. "We have the most restrictive laws in Europe on gun ownership. These have plainly not worked. In 1968, in 1988, and twice in 1997, we were promised a safer country if only we gave up our guns. We were cheated. "In fact, the only people who have no guns are the respectable. Those who do commit assaults are no more likely to obey the gun ban than they are to stop listening to horrid music or to wash their hands after using the toilet. "Even turning the country into a police state, with powers of random stop and search and scanners in public places, will do nothing to disarm these creatures."

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