5 Things About Guns The UK Could Teach The US

On May 14, 2000, over 750,000 of us gathered in front of the US Capitol for the Million Mom March, a diverse group brought together by the urgent need to demand tougher gun control laws.

Pointing towards the Capitol, Sarah Brady, founder of Handgun Control, Inc, declared, “If they don’t change the laws, we will change the lawmakers.” The applause was deafening. We were exuberant, sure that we could win.

We have failed.

Some Key Events:

*  April 2007: Virginia Tech becomes the site of the deadliest shooting in US history, with 32 people killed.

*  January 2012: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is shot and injured at a public appearance. Six others are killed.

*  April 2012: Seven die at a small Korean college in California.

*  July 2012: James Holmes walks into an Aurora, Colorado, movie theatre and systematically begins firing rounds into fleeing moviegoers, killing 12 and wounding 59.

As Thinkprogress explains:

Holmes brought five weapons to the theater: a Smith & Wesson AR-15, two Glock .40 pistols, a knife and a Remington model 870 pump shotgun he left in his car.

The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle, nearly identical in appearance to a military M16, that usually holds up to 30 rounds of high-powered ammunition.

But AP tweeted that Holmes had a high-capacity, drum-style ammo clip in the rifle that can carry much more ammunition than a box-shaped magazine.

In addition he seems to have purchased a full line of assault gear shown on the parking lot outside the theater. He was wearing a ballistic helmet, goggles, a gas mask, a ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, along with throat and groin protectors and black tactical gloves available at any law enforcement gear website.

Thanks to years of dedicated lobbying by the National Rifle Association, existing laws are woefully inadequate. Laws in the state of Colorado, similar to those across the US, allowed James Holmes to obtain his weapons with ease. The situation in my native UK is vastly different.

1.  Registration: the state of Colorado prohibits gun registration. In the UK, with a very few specific exceptions, all fireams must be licensed.

2.   Permits: Holmes reportedly drove up to the movie theater with his arsenal. That too was entirely legal in Colorado—as long as the guns are visible, you don’t need a permit. In the UK, the only kind of weapon you may carry is a rifle, and that is only if you belong to a recognized shooting club.

3.  Assault Weapons: under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, assault weapons were banned in the US, but the act was not renewed in 2004, meaning that there are no federal restrictions on the ownership of AR-15s and similar weapons. All assault weapons are illegal in the UK.

4.  Gun Purchase: Since 2003 it has been illegal for any local government or law enforcement agency in Colorado to “enact an ordinance, regulation or other law that prohibits the sale, purchase or possession of a firearm that a person may lawfully sell, purchase or possess under state or federal law.” In the UK, you need a valid license to buy a gun, and you are questioned continually during the purchase to confirm your intent, your background, and your criminal record.

5.  Weapons Transportation: There are no laws pertaining to bringing firearms into Colorado from another state. In the UK, it is illegal to bring weapons into the country.

US Has Highest Gun Ownership In The World

The Guardian reports that the US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. England and Wales, by comparison have an average of 6.2 per 100 people.  As a result, 31,347 Americans were killed by guns in 2009, while the 2008 figure for the UK was 39.

The NRA is undoubtedly one of the most powerful lobbying organisations in the US, and it is not hesitant to divert campaign contributions to defeat advocates of gun control.. The organisation has raised $9m already for this November’s elections.

But as Gail Collins wrote last Saturday in the New York Times:

Everybody, including the gun control advocates, knows that nothing will change unless the people decide to do the leading. Eventually, the American voters come around. Just ask the suffragists.

I certainly hope so.

Related Stories

Thoughts On Gun Control (Infographic)

Gun Violence A Public Health Problem

GOP Rep: Aurora Shooting An Attack On ‘Judeo-Christian Beliefs’

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Kriss Ite
Kriss Iteabout a year ago

I don't care what you think of gun control, however, as explained in EnglishShooting's playlist "UK Gun Laws" (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdw-vBe9RRO3mr1VDR8hZnf2rCrc7Wt5E), this article is rather innacurate as to what U.K. gun laws are like.

Kriss Ite
Kriss Ite2 years ago

To Charlie R.: as explained on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baApAqBK82Q&index=1&list=PLkYQwSCzfVRH0koWX4eARKGVz3L88WB12 (if the link doesn't automatically work, try copying and pasting it in your browser), registering weapons CAN lead to confiscation.

Roger H.
Roger H2 years ago

The thing that the UK and other countries that have restricted gun ownership is teaching us is that it leaves the citizens (and the police in some countries) vulnerable to criminals that don't obey their gun laws. Sort of like we have found here in cities that restrict gun ownership.

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rush2 years ago

The psychological effect of lenient gun laws is as problematic as owning the guns.
At the very LEAST, _all_ guns should be licensed and any gun owner should be required to pass a gun firing and safety test, similar to driving a vehicle.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper2 years ago


Frank S.
Past Member 2 years ago

Hello, Hello gun grabbers your going after the wrong group. the honest citizen with a gun poses no threat to the world.

The U S Gov't is the #1 arms dealer on the planet then Russia, China, the U K, the U N and right on down the hypocrite line.

The article states that we should learn from the U K....NO THANKS. The U K has allowed Muslims to take over their country with these so-called "No Go Zones" that are packed with weapons of all description while the U K citizens are like unarmed sheep who allowed their guns to be taken away.

America may have its faults like we all do....but at least the American citizens can and will protect himself, his family and his country if need be, It's quite obvious that gov'ts can't........as their too busy selling guns. Probably the same guns that were sold to the Muslims in the U K.

How soon we forget........"Fast and Furious" anyone.

Kriss Ite
Kriss Ite2 years ago

Finishing up: sorry but I forgot to add these few words to my last comment (Care2 doesn't give me the editing capabilities that many other social media websites offer). I meant to put in "but the target would be the United States federal government" in between "Besides, not only that during a revolution the target isn't really law enforcement and/or the military" and "but there are also quite a few law enforcement officers and military personnel on our side." I wouldn't have to do this if Care2 gave us the ability to edit comments. >:(

Frank J.
Frank J.2 years ago

We could learn from the UK. Fact, Prior to the gun ban gun crime and violent crimes where almost non existent there, within the first two years after the ban they both skirketed and have never been that low since. their violent crime rate is one of the worst in the world. As common sense suggest and history and facts support regulating the lawful dos not control the unlawful and gun control has never worked to control crime. Rights are not free and must be fought for. Without the means to defend them they are nothing more than privileges and can be taken away at any time for any reason.

Kriss Ite
Kriss Ite2 years ago

Continued, things like aircraft, armored vehicles, and artillery are only meant for SUPPORT, and won't guarantee victory (just to ask modern resistance fighters or major criminals operation in 3rd world countries). Besides, not only that during a revolution the target isn't really law enforcement and/or the military but there are also quite a few law enforcement officers and military personnel on our side. So, hopefully, they and any imported foreign troops won't obey any orders to kill or capture civilians. Let's face it... the rich politicians and bankers in power are only as powerful as our, the military's and law enforcement's obedience.

Kriss Ite
Kriss Ite2 years ago

Oh, man, my last comment was cut off. Oh well, better continue it I another comment...