I've been sparring with my friend Porphyrogenitus
on the issue of gun control in the United Kingdom for some time now, and as my opinion was moved by his arguments, I thought it'd be courteous to note something about it here.
My own personal opinion is that the ideal position on guns is to have a society where nobody has them - but willingly. ie, they are legal, but nobody feels the need to own a firearm. My old take on the issue of gun control was, well, if so few people in the UK own guns, making them illegal has no real effect, so - so what?
However, I have been convinced that putting laws down to ban guns have a bad effect for a number of reasons.
1. From a moral point of view, disarming the population when the police clearly do such an inept job of policing in some areas is fundamentally unfair. Now, if someone attempts to assault you and you dissuade him from doing so with a weapon (just about any weapon these days, let alone a gun), even if nobody is hurt, your offending by possessing a weapon, and it is the police's duty to prosecute you.
2. It has had no beneficial effect on crime rates, gun crime having gone up by over 30% according to the Telegraph last year alone. Since the ban was introduced, gun crime has skyrocketed, so it apparently hasn't made the streets safer. If anything, it's done the converse. (Personally, I am of the opinion that it had no effect at all on crime, positive or negative.
3. The final point is somewhat hard to convey, but I'll attempt it. It can be summed up by - banning firearms encourages the population to be more supine, and this is undesirable. Responsibility has, in some small way, been passed from the citizen to the State (again). The fact that a tiny minority even before the ban felt the need to own a firearm for their own defence is irrelevant. Banning firearms merely sends out a signal that the State will look after you. That responsible people (ie, the ones designated by the State) should be the only ones allowed to bear weapons, and it is their duty to look after you - not your own. It encourages a sheep-like attitude, and thats not healthy in a democracy.
Still not quite sure what to make of Blair (a testament to the mans ability to obscure his true loyalties - the sign of a genius politician, I have to admit). Lots of news about him backsliding (whenever he's been asked about war, he always talks about waiting for UN approval, though I think it a little telling he never let himself be pinned down on acting -without- UN approval either - like I said, genius politician) lately. Given he has to deal with things like this
though, you can pity the poor P.M. and see why he has to make dove-like noises every so often.
My personal view is - the man has already invested a lot of political capital in supporting the US this far. And aside from political capital, a lot of money has been spent gearing the Armed Forces up and preparing. In short, I think to be honest, he's committed himself now. So Britain will be going to war against Iraq alongside the United States. Blair's goal is merely damage limitation. He'll be want to seen to be -reluctantly- going to war.
Well, reluctant I can live with, so long as it gets done.