Obtaining a Gun in the UK Is Far More Difficult Than in the U S Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Gun Laws / Gun Violence

Gun violence, gun registration, and mass shootings in the United States -- and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom -- have caused authorities great concern over the past few years. And these issues have received a great deal of media attention and hence are worthy of research. This paper reviews gun violence in the U.S. and in the UK, and gun laws that are in place and those that should be in place.

Mass shootings and gun violence in the U.S.

In the United States, as of October 1, 2015, there have been 294 mass shootings (a mass shooting is defined as one in which four or more people were killed or injured by a gun), and 45 of those occurred at schools (BBC). In the U.S. (again, up to October 1) 9,956 people have been killed in "gun incidents," and 20,000 people injured in gun incidents (BBC).

During Obama's presidency, he has attended memorials services -- or met with families of the murdered and injured -- in the wake of 15 mass shootings; the BBC also reports that during the course of Obama's second term in his presidency there have been 994 mass shootings in America. Going back a few years, the BBC reports that

Following the most recent college campus shooting in Oregon, Obama traveled to Roseberg to console the families of victims, and was met at the airport by several hundred angry residents who oppose Obama's advocacy of stricter gun laws. Ironic though this boisterous protest was in light of the fact that nine community members had just recently been killed on a college campus in cold blood -- and nine were injured -- it points out the power of the top gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA).

" ... It is disgraceful that the families of the dead and wounded were subjected to such an insensitive display of pique" (Brattleboro Reformer). But the editorial in the Vermont Brattleboro Reformer (BR) went on to point out the difficulty that Obama faces in getting reasonable gun safety measures through the Congress. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (20 young children shot point blank, some of them shot up to 15 times in the face, and 6 teachers killed) legislation to require background checks on gun buyers (at gun shows and online) received a majority of 54 votes, but this bill needed 60 votes to override a filibuster launched by pro-NRA Republicans in the Senate (BR). The research on those 46 that voted against background checks shows that they received " ... eleven times more money from pro-gun interest groups than did the 54 senators voted for it"; and therein lies the problem vis-a-vis gun safety legislation -- and money influence in politics -- in the United States.

How difficult is it to get a gun in the U.S.

If an adult citizen wishes to purchase a gun in the U.S. -- and he or she goes to a gun store or to a store like Walmart -- a background check is required. The form to fill out asks questions like, have you been convicted of a felony, or domestic violence; are you addicted to drugs or a fugitive from justice; and have you been committed to a mental institution? (money.cnn.com). Taking that information (and name, address, etc.) the gun store contacts the FBI to see if the customer is in the database of the National Crime Information Center and Interstate Identification Center. The FBI says that "... more than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade," and of those, more than 700,000 gun applicants have been denied the right to buy a gun based on their arrest record (including domestic abuse) or other negatives in their resumes (money.cnn).

However, buying a gun at a gun show is a walk in the park for most would-be purchasers. According to the Department of Justice (U.S.), there are about 2,000 to 5,200 gun shows in America annually (Korte, 2015). There can be as many as 100 guns shows in a week. There are federally licensed dealers on hand at gun shows and buying weapons from them requires a background check. But, hundreds of private collectors are also on hand and anyone can buy a gun with no background check from these individuals (Korte, p. 1).

It's called the "gun show loophole"; and whether the purchaser is a mentally unstable person who has been in and out of institutions his entire adult life, or a serial killer, or just a young man who has a copy-cat interest in going into a university classroom and killing as many people as he can, there is nothing stopping him from buying a gun at a gun show (Korte, p. 2). On October 13, 2015, a visit to http://gunshows-usa.com advertises dozens of shows this month. Jackson, Tennessee, Greenville, South Carolina, Independence Missouri, San Antonio, Texas, and Virginia Beach, Virginia, to name a few.

Shootings and gun violence in the UK

Locating statistics on gun deaths and gun violence in the UK requires skill in using search engines. One thing comes clear after a thorough review of available data from England is that there are far fewer deaths caused by guns in the UK than in the U.S. It is no exaggeration to say the number of gun killings in the UK is dramatically dwarfed by the number of gun murders in America.

In fact, the Home Office Statistical Bulletin report ("Homicides, Firearms Offenses and Intimate Violence") in 2012 points out that the "most common method of killing for both male and female victims was by a knife or other sharp instrument." There were 232 homicides by sharp object (knife or other instruments) in 2010 / 2011, and just 210 in the previous two-year period.

The next most common method of killing a person in the UK in 2010 / 2011 was "hitting or kicking." This method tallied 122 homicides (which was lower than in the previous two-year period by 6 killings) (Home Office). For women, the second most common form of killing was by "strangulation or asphyxiation" (39 homicides in 2010 / 2011).

As for gun killings, whereas there were 9,956 people killed in America by guns in the first 9 months of 2015, there were just 60 shooting homicides in the UK in 2010 / 2011 (Home Office). The 60 killings showed an increase of 19 offences compared with just 41 in the two years preceding this data; the 60 killings with guns includes 12 victims of a mass shooting at Cumbrian in June, 2010.

The vast gulf between the statistics in the U.S. and in the UK is astonishing and it paints a very negative picture of life in America vis-a-vis violence caused by people wielding guns.

Meantime other data from various sources (not necessarily reliable sources) shows varying facts. For example, according to the Citizens Report (2013) there were 640 murders in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011 / 2012; of these, 44 involved a "gun or firearm as the main weapon." The GunPolicy.org site claims there were 146 gun deaths in the UK in 2011, 165 gun deaths in 2010, 150 gun deaths in 2009, and 174 gun deaths in 2008. That is quite a bit different from data from the Home Office, but it is used to show that all facts are not verifiable.

Someone named Juan Cole reports that in 2010 there were 8,775 murders by firearms in the U.S., and in 2011 there were 58 murders by firearms in Britain.

When a mass shooting occurs in England, the government takes action.

Another aspect to this theme in England is that when there is a major or mass shooting, the citizens demand changes in laws and policies. For example, in 1987 a 27-year-old male (Michael Ryan) took two semi-automatic rifles and a Beretta 92 pistol and went into the town of Hungerford and slaughtered 16 people. He was searing combat fatigues and besides killing 16 people he injured 15 as well. He then took his own life, and the incident has become known as the "Hungerford Massacre."

After that mass killing spree, the government responded to strong citizen demands for firearm controls; the Hungerford incident resulted in the Firearms Amendment Act of 1988. This amendment made it a criminal offense to own most semi-automatic long-barrel weapons. There were members of the Labour Party that thought the law should have gone further, but in fact the tragedy was responded to by government, which obviously wasn't impacted by a gun lobby such as the NRA in the U.S.

Another mass killing occurred on March 13, 1996, when 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton shot and killed 16 children and their teacher in Dunblane Primary School's gymnasium. Hamilton used two Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers and a pair of Browning Hi-Power 9 x 19 mm pistols. Apparently Hamilton was bitter over having been kicked out of The Scout Association in 1974, and…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

BBC. (2015). Oregon shooting: Statistics behind 'routine' U.S. gun violence. Retrieved October 13, 2015, from http://www.bbc.com.

Brattleboro Reformer. (2015). Our Opinion: Guns, money, and simplistic assumptions.

Retrieved October 13, 2015, from http://www.reformer.com.

Casciani, D. (2010). Gun control and ownership laws in the UK. BBC. Retrieved

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