This was a response by me to a message I rather foolishly didn't realise was off list, and hence has points I was addressing to the list at large - or those embroiled in this thread at least - (apologies to Jon):
> Are you from England?
Yes I am
> If so are guns banned there? I am curious as to the
> statistics because it is my understanding guns are at least severely limited
> in England, and that gun deaths are extremely small. If this is true, the
> death from crime statistic in such an environment would be dispositive of the
> debate as to whether gun ownership increases death rates. Any information you
> have on this would be helpful toward the debate.
Sorry, I don't know the relevant statistics and haven't had time to check as unfortunately I somewhat killed my computer this morning and have spent all day repairing it. I'm sure they're available on the web. What I will say though is that shooting incidents are rare enough that they can still make national headlines, even if they result only in injuries (however minor/ serious) and not deaths. Obviously we too have had our occasional massacres, the last of course being Dunblane, but these are *very* rare. So much so that after the first of these occured at Hungerford in the 80's, by self styled Rambo, Michael Ryan, it was greeted almost by sheer disbelief, by people saying "But this isn't America; things like this just don't happen here". And when a song was released after the event ('Lightening Strikes' by The Seers - I shouldn't imagine anyone's ever heard of it but it's actually pretty good) pointing out the hypocrisy/ knee-jerk reactions provoked by both sides of the argument in such cases, it was immediately banned in a typical knee-jerk reaction by those who automatically assumed it was glorifying the event (which it most definitely wasn't), without ever actually listening to it. And worse, perhaps, than the reactions to such events in the USA are the calls not simply for guns to be banned, but for violent films to be banned, violent computer games to be banned, violence in TV shows to be banned, songs which allude to violence to be banned, and no doubt, books with descriptions of violence to be immediately burned. I'm sure you get the picture. Maybe in a less violent society our knees have further to jerk (or our jerks have bigger knees) but the consequences for personal and societal freedom can be far more horrific.
One interesting question has occasionally occured to me:
If the population of the UK was scaled up to match the population of the USA would we find that the levels of violence or crime in general would be similar despite our different systems of laws, or would there still be a disproportionate level of crime in the USA (ie: are such statistics a product more of the systems under which we live, or a product of large, economically and socially diverse or disparate populations)?
Also, just to clear the air: I do not have a problem with the debate on property rights, what I was objecting to in my original post on this thread was the increasing level of vitriol. I'd like to reiterate Greg Burch's request for civility and - for now at least - letting the matter rest as far as the guns side of the debate is concerned.