Cross-posted from The Quinton Report.
Henry Porter is a British novelist and a columnist for The Observer. He is the co-founder of the Convention on Modern Liberty, which focuses on the erosion of civil liberties in the United Kingdom. That makes his anti-gun column in the Observer quite ironic.
From the column:
The annual toll from firearms in the US is running at 32,000 deaths and climbing, even though the general crime rate is on a downward path (it is 40% lower than in 1980). If this perennial slaughter doesn’t qualify for intercession by the UN and all relevant NGOs, it is hard to know what does.
To absorb the scale of the mayhem, it’s worth trying to guess the death toll of all the wars in American history since the War of Independence began in 1775, and follow that by estimating the number killed by firearms in the US since the day that Robert F. Kennedy was shot in 1968 by a .22 Iver-Johnson handgun, wielded by Sirhan Sirhan. The figures from Congressional Research Service, plus recent statistics from icasualties.org, tell us that from the first casualties in the battle of Lexington to recent operations in Afghanistan, the toll is 1,171,177. By contrast, the number killed by firearms, including suicides, since 1968, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI, is 1,384,171.
That 212,994 more Americans lost their lives from firearms in the last 45 years than in all wars involving the US is a staggering fact, particularly when you place it in the context of the safety-conscious, “secondary smoke” obsessions that characterise so much of American life.
Of course if you go down to the bottom of his column you’ll see in the correction note that Porter was so ignorant of American history he originally referred to Edward “Ted” Kennedy being shot in 1968 instead of Bobby. He is also so ignorant of American history that he forgets why we revolted in the 18th Century:
ne more figure. There have been fewer than 20 terror-related deaths on American soil since 9/11 and about 364,000 deaths caused by privately owned firearms. If any European nation had such a record and persisted in addressing only the first figure, while ignoring the second, you can bet your last pound that the State Department would be warning against travel to that country and no American would set foot in it without body armour.
But no nation sees itself as outsiders do. Half the country is sane and rational while the other half simply doesn’t grasp the inconsistencies and historic lunacy of its position, which springs from the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, and is derived from English common law and our 1689 Bill of Rights. We dispensed with these rights long ago, but American gun owners cleave to them with the tenacity that previous generations fought to continue slavery. Astonishingly, when owning a gun is not about ludicrous macho fantasy, it is mostly seen as a matter of personal safety, like the airbag in the new Ford pick-up or avoiding secondary smoke, despite conclusive evidence that people become less safe as gun ownership rises.
Porter is quick to say they “dispensed” with the right to keep and bear arms “long ago” before trying to compare supporters of the 2nd Amendment in the U.S. to those who supported slavery. Then again, journalists in the UK (including Piers Morgan who is also anti-gun) are known for hacking into private information of others to pursue their freedom of the press. I don’t think Porter really understands liberties as much as he thinks he does.
Porter once again calls for international intervention in America over this issue. I seem to recall the British trying to take away the guns that belonged to some citizens in America once before, in 1775. How did that work out for them?