The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Sam_Lowry
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points

Firearms licences should not be granted to members of the public

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Sam_Lowry
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,933 times Debate No: 12228
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (2)
Votes (6)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

There is absolutely no legitimate need for any member of the public to own a gun. British citizens do not benefit in any way from public gun ownership so why are firearms licences still being granted to private individuals?

Since firearms can only be legitimately used in specific places and for specific purposes such as deer stalking or sports shooting, firearms should be securely stored on licensed premises where they can be rented to approved individuals.

Under no circumstances should firearms leave those premises to be kept in the hands of private individuals.

Sadly, the consequences of allowing members of the public to keep guns in their personal possession were graphically illustrated yesterday when the holder of a licensed firearm in rural Cumbria lost his temper and shot 12 people dead, injuring 11 others.

Tragically, this is not the first time we have witnessed some clodhopping turnip-muncher with a gun licence run amok in the British countryside. As the BBC reported:

"Michael Ryan's massacre of 16 people in Hungerford in 1987 led to the banning of all modern semi-automatic rifles and a range of guns that are capable of firing rapidly without needing to be reloaded. Nine years later, Thomas Hamilton killed 16 school children and their teacher when he opened fire at a school in Dunblane. Parliament banned all handguns and there is now a mandatory five year jail sentence for possession."

http://news.bbc.co.uk...

The only positive aspects of these atrocities were that they led to increased restrictions on the private possession of firearms.

http://news.bbc.co.uk...

However, Britain's gun ownership regulations are still very relaxed compared to other developed nations.

For example, in Japan where private gun ownership is almost unheard of, guns only kill 0.06 people in every 100,000, whereas in England and Wales the figure is 0.38 – over 6 times more.

Of course, there are developed countries where firearms laws are even more lenient than in the UK and this is reflected in the number of people that are killed by guns there.

For example, in the USA where citizens have a constitutional right to "bear arms", a whopping 10.26 people in every 100,000 are killed by guns – that's 27 times more than in England and Wales and a staggering 171 times more than in Japan.

http://www.gun-control-network.org...

In the light of these startling statistics, the UK must adopt the Japanese model of gun control and introduce a total ban on the private possession of firearms in order to save innocent lives.

Thank you.
Sam_Lowry

Con

Thank you for proposing this debate.

I do not accept my opponents definition of "legitimate purpose". Self defence is a legitimate purpose of firearm ownership. He clearly contradicts himself by saying that there are no legitimate reasons for gun ownership, and then listing other legitimate purposes for owning a firearm. Just because one believes that the results of public firearm ownership are net negative do not make the legitimate purposes of firearms non legitimate.

My opponent also greatly oversimplifies the nature of competitive target shooting. In the upper echelons of target shooting, guns are tuned specifically for each individual owner and carry a high price tag, making renting an unfeasible option for highly competitive or Olympic leagues.

My opponent has selectively picked data regarding various nations in order to justify his assertion that gun ownership harmful to society. He cites Japan as a seemingly obvious example of gun control being a successful policy. However, this is simply not an accurate analogy. Japan's crime rate is overall lower than virtually any country, including crimes completely irrelevant to guns ownership. For example, my opponent makes the claim that United States gun deaths are 171 times more in number than in Japan. However, The robbery rate in America is almost 100 times greater than Japan. This being the case, one could hardly come to the conclusion that firearm control is the sole contributing factor, or even the primary contributing factor in Japanese crime. It would be just as accurate (actually, much, much more accurate) for me to claim that acceptance and toleration of police brutality and an unfair trial system is the primary cause of lower crime in Japan. It is important to note that correlation does not imply causation.

http://www.breakingnews.ie...
http://www.davekopel.com...

Comparing Britain to the United States as a whole is simply nonsensical. The United States works based on the Federalist system, in which each state sets its own rules. States such as New Hampshire have almost unrestricted gun ownership and much lower homicide rates than Britain. Meanwhile, Washington DC is simultaneously the most anti gun region in the country and the murder capital. However, unlike my opponent, I refuse conclude that this disparity is caused by gun control or gun ownership. Rather, this simply shows that gun control is not inherently effective at reducing crime or homicide. This is unsurprising, as crime and homicide has risen sharply since the 1997 handgun ban in Britain. The best way to deal with crime in any circumstance is to tackle the root cause. I believe that even my opponent would agree that drug trafficking is the root cause of violence in Mexico, not legal gun ownership.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk...

My opponent seems deadset in his opinion that gun ownership results in crime and violence. I will end my round by revealing an extensive and exhaustive study on this topic, in which socio-economic and cultural factors are taken into account. The results of this study convincingly show that gun ownership is not within itself a societal risk factor.

http://ssrn.com...
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

With many thanks to my opponent for his eloquent and inform reply, I should like to state that I do not agree that self-defence is a legitimate reason to own a gun. People are entitled to defend their homes and families, of course, but allowing them to use firearms to do so makes the householder the judge, jury and executioner of an intruder. The penalty for burglary is rightly severe, but it is not the death penalty. Whatever punishment is handed down to an offender should be the responsibility of the courts, not the victim.

That is why farmer Tony Martin, who shot an unarmed burglar, was sent to jail.

http://www.guardian.co.uk...

However, that was in England, in the US things are different, but even in Texas you can be sent to jail for shooting trespassers. For example, when Gayle and Sheila Muhs opened fire on two vehicles they believed were violating their property rights, killing a 7 year-old boy in the process, Liberty County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Ken DeFoor described the shooting was the most "violent reaction to something so blatantly, blatantly minor" he'd ever seen.

http://abcnews.go.com...

It is this type of incident that demonstrates the lethal consequences of allowing ordinary people to own such dangerous weapons.

Moving on, I am indebted to my opponent for pointing out that elite marksmen have their guns made bespoke and therefore a rented gun would not be good enough for them. I did not realise this. However, the sporting pleasures of a privileged few should not outweigh the security of the many and I'm afraid that moneyed gunslingers will just have to endure the hardship of shooting off-the-shelf firearms instead.

However, I do agree with my opponent that, in terms of crime, it is necessary to tackle the root cause of the problem rather than blame firearms for high murder rates. However, in areas where there are high rates of crime, the availability of legal weapons often increases the seriousness of offences and also serves to elevate the fear of crime among law-abiding citizens.

For example, if an intruder believes that there is a possibility that the householder may be armed, he is likely to raise the stakes by going in tooled up himself. Indeed, a burglar may even pre-empt an armed response by hunting down the occupants of the property and shooting them in order to enable him to carry out the robbery unmolested. Of course, householders are aware of this and, as a consequence, are often unable to rest easy in their own homes at night.

More generally, crimes such as drive-by shootings are difficult to execute without guns, as are armed robberies. More mundanely, pub fights are less violent when the weapons are pool cues and broken bottles rather than, say Glock 26's and Walther PP's.

In conclusion, under the responsible stewardship of law-abiding person the possession of a gun may cause few problems. However, when these problems do arise, the consequences are catastrophic. This was demonstrated last week in Cumbria as it is on a depressingly frequent basis on the campuses of schools and colleges in the United States.

The fact that most people are responsible and can be trusted with a gun is of little consolation to the families of the victims of gun owners who suddenly lost their tempers and opened fire on innocent people. That is why gun licences should not be granted to ordinary members of the public.

Thank you.
Sam_Lowry

Con

"People are entitled to defend their homes and families, of course, but allowing them to use firearms to do so makes the householder the judge, jury and executioner of an intruder. The penalty for burglary is rightly severe, but it is not the death penalty. Whatever punishment is handed down to an offender should be the responsibility of the courts, not the victim."

I would agree that it is not the proper recourse to kill an obviously unarmed intruder who does not initiate force. However, not ever situation is as clear cut as the ones my opponent has listed. Despite the fact that my opponent agrees that people are entitled to defend their homes, he is implying that firearms are incapable of being used outside of extremes. This could not be farther from the truth; most defensive firearm uses end without a single shot fired. In the vast majority of cases, simply drawing arms de-escalates the situation, causing the instigator to either surrender or flee. Since my opponent does not seem to have a problem with self defense through necessity, it seems that he is not strictly against the use of firearms for self defense, rather he apposes Castle Doctrine. This is not the only doctrine that allows for firearm self defense use. Duty to retreat doctrines require the property owner to retreat from the suspect, and then announce their intent to fire. In many variations of this doctrine, for a shooting to be legally justified, the assailant must show intent to cause harm or mortal injury. Thus, use of a firearm in this situation would bear little difference from using an edged weapon in a similar defensive situation. Granting civilians the ability to bear arms does not inherently give them the right to exorcise lethal force at their personal discretion.

"For example, if an intruder believes that there is a possibility that the householder may be armed, he is likely to raise the stakes by going in tooled up himself. Indeed, a burglar may even pre-empt an armed response by hunting down the occupants of the property and shooting them in order to enable him to carry out the robbery unmolested."

I would ask for some type of source for this assertion, as it runs contrary to my own research. In the Unites States, burglars are much less likely to willfully come into contact with the residents of homes than in Canada or Britain, which have much more strict gun laws and lower gun ownership. Many surveys of convicted felons and burglars seem to confirm the fact that criminals fear gun encounters and will avoid them when possible.

http://catb.org...
http://www.guncite.com...

"Of course, householders are aware of this and, as a consequence, are often unable to rest easy in their own homes at night."

I would again ask for some type of source or citation, as this also run contrary to what I have gathered. I consistently find that those who own and or carry firearms are much less likely to be the victims of violent crime.

http://www.guncite.com...

"More generally, crimes such as drive-by shootings are difficult to execute without guns, as are armed robberies. More mundanely, pub fights are less violent when the weapons are pool cues and broken bottles rather than, say Glock 26's and Walther PP's."

I would like to address these two separate points. On the subject of drive by shootings, most, if not all are the result of gang and drug violence. The idea of reducing drive by shootings through gun control depends on two assumptions: That banning guns will not result in equally violent alternatives (Stabbings), and that gun control will be effective in keeping illegal arms out of the hands of criminals. I have already addressed the first issue in my previous argument, and I do not believe that even total banning of firearms will prevent those who want them from acquiring them. A brief look at statistical evidence in Britain will show that there are over a million illegal weapons in circulation. Even if one were to somehow entirely cut off the supply of weapons from external sources and gradually chip away at the conventional weapons in circulation, it is unlikely that the problem would resolve itself. History has shown that relatively sophisticated firearms can be produced from even the most basic of materials and tools. The best example that I know of would be the British Sten submachin-gun, developed during WWII to satisfy the dire need for wartime weapons. In face of a limited industrial arms complex, small time factories with limited experience were able produce these weapons in massive quantities. The simplicity of this weapon led it to be adopted by the Polish resistance, who produced it illegally by contracting each individual part out to a legitimate factory.

"Due to the simplicity of design, local production of Polish variants of Sten was started in at least 23 underground workshops in Poland. Some of them produced copies of Mark IIs, while others produced the so-called Polski Sten. The Polski Sten made in Warsaw under command of Ryszard Białostocki were built from a number of legal elements made in official factories or acquired through other means. The main body of the machine pistol was made from hydraulic cylinders produced for hospital equipment. All the pistols were marked in English to disguise their origin and the production facilities."

While the production of rag tag weapons is limited in modern times, a total ban would likely revive the market for such weapons. Considering that fully automatic and semi automatic weapons are almost identical in cost when government sanctions are in place for both types of weapons, the result may actually be an increase of fully automatic weapons on the streets.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by tornshoe92 7 years ago
tornshoe92
"For example, in the USA where citizens have a constitutional right to "bear arms", a whopping 10.26 people in every 100,000 are killed by guns – that's 27 times more than in England and Wales and a staggering 171 times more than in Japan."

The argument of "who kills more people with guns" is often used but very misleading in that it fails to represent the comparison of overall violent crimes between nations. If a nation has lowered amounts of guns then it is possible that fewer deaths will be a result from those guns. However, when other methods of homicide are factored into the equation the percentages change. For example, http://www.davekopel.com... as the author says, while the homicide rate in Japan is lower it is in no way the sensationalized "171 times more than in Japan" gap that you mentioned. And if you look at the statistics that you posted linking gun deaths and the percentage of gun owners in the populace for various countries you will notice Switzerland has a fairly low gun death rate even though they are much less restrictive than even the U.S. in the purchase of firearms. If you'll notice in the article http://pages.prodigy.net... Swiss citizens are more or less required to own firearms. In my opinion the way we reduce overall homicide and gun homicide rates is to educate people on the subject of firearms like the Swiss do (of course I'm not saying we should have mandatory militia service like the swiss) which would hopefully reduce the unwarranted fear of guns themselves.
Posted by magpie 7 years ago
magpie
Whenever I read "should", I hear: 'I want...' Brian has a visceral fear of guns that inhibits rational analysis. He imagines that the gun is a tool that can be used only in the extreme. Most people own knives, hammers, and screw drivers, but we don't go around, indiscriminately hacking others. Brian doesn't imagine that we would. It's only with guns that we would consider nastiness; as though the gun has possession of our will.
Apparently, Brian has still not critically read Kellerman's polemic on guns, nor Lott's: 'More Guns - Less Crime'.
Brian: you'd do better to debate issues with which you are comfortable.
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