Clueless and rude

Red Sky in the MorningOver on the excellent Grumpy Lion blog, there is a regular commenter who, I think it is fair to say, often gets the wrong end of the stick. However, Steph is so inordinately self-opinionated that nothing will ever come close to swaying her on any issue. It doesn’t matter if she is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you point out her mistakes. She appears to refuse to listen. If you correct her twice she will swear at you and call you a stalker. This is all good internet-kook behaviour, generally confined to the more religious zealot. Feel free to pop over and read her comments – she comments a lot, and often on topics about which I know nothing, however when it is a topic I have some understanding off, she is invariably wrong. I would be interested to know how this extrapolates to her other comments.

Anyway, the most recent “encounter” was on a recent post that degenerated into an argument about UK gun control laws. Quite wisely, Ric has now ended comments as it was, sadly, repetitive. However, in the best internet traditions, I now feel left out as I haven’t had the chance to get the lastword™®© in :-) . However, here the magic of the interblog steps in…!

For those who don’t know (or don’t want to read her screed), Steph has made numerous claims, all of which would normally need something to back them up. Take this from her very first comment on the thread:

But States with tight gun control laws have higher gun crime rates than the States with lax gun laws. And most gun crime is perpetrated against those who don’t have guns.

Gathering StormFair enough. The first bit is regulary bandied around but I have yet to see where the figures come from. The second sentence is pretty meaningless. It is an attempt to imply that carrying a gun reduces the chance you will become a victim to gun crime. This is akin to saying if you are a mugger you will be less likely to be mugged. It is hollow and provides nothing of substance, so I will not dwell on it further.

Steph trots out the old bit about how she has her gun and will kill to defend herself, and knows how, etc. This is regularly used by people with very little experience of violent encounters – especially ones involving weapons. In a nutshell, if it was this easy, why do armed forces the world over train their soldiers? Owning a gun is no use unless it is in your hands and pointing at the person who may do you harm. As you don’t know who this will be you would have to travel everywhere with your weapon drawn and keeping a bead on everyone you encounter. Realistic, maybe, in some post apocalypse nightmare film but certainly not on the streets of an even moderately populated village.

Also in her opening comment, Steph makes the, frankly, bizzare statement:

In the UK, handgun ownership is illegal, but there are just as many handguns on the street in London as there is in Palermo.

Again, amazing concept and I would love to see the research that supports this. Oddly, the crucial bit is not true. Handguns are not “banned” in the UK. The UK has very few “UK-wide” laws and the 1997 Firearms act certainly isn’t. Handguns are not even banned in the normal sense throughout the mainland of Great Britain (which is what I suspect Steph meant). My closest friend is a member of a gun club and he owns several handguns, my personal favourite is a Sig Sauer P226. It is legally held. He owns it with the full knowledge of the police. The weapon is not banned. I may be repeating myself but it seems some people do not fully understand this.

I tried to point this out to Steph (admitedly I just said “there is no ban” in the early stages) and she ignored me. However, in a later post (response to Evo) she states:

defintely gun ed would encourage gun ownership but I don’t see that as the problem – in the UK gun crime, including gun related homicides, have risen exponentially since the the prohibition on handguns.

Wow. There it is again. Actually, there are lots of weirdnesses all rolled up into one long sentence. If we try to dissect it we get:

  1. Guns are banned in the UK.
  2. Gun crime in the UK has risen exponentially since 1997.
  3. Gun related homicides in the UK have risen exponentially since 1997.

All with nothing to support it. Point 1 is wrong but more on that later. Points 2 and 3 may be wrong but we have no figures (other than Steph’s claims) to go by. Off to the web we go. A quick check on CAIN hitting a random year pre-1997 has eight gun deaths in January 1990 in Ulster alone. Is Steph trying to say that there were 8^7 deaths in Ulster during Jan 1998? (unlikely as this is 1/25th of the population of the UK*) Or have I misunderstood her use of the term. Is she simply trying to say “increased” but also trying to do so in a sensationalist manner (which is fine – I always do that…). Either way, she is wrong.

If we look at Northern Ireland (yes, it is part of the UK) for an example we can see some more of interest. In the 1970s and 1980s guns were everywhere. They were easy to get hold of and weren’t as heavily regulated as on the rest of the mainland. Did this make the place “safer?” Personally, I don’t think so. Gun battles were common place. Innocent bystanders were killed in the crossfire and so on. Guns enabled people to act a lot harder than they actually were, with the resulting, predictable, carnage. Guns are dangerous. I spent most of my adult life in close proximity to them and I can honestly say as soon as people forget how deadly they are, deaths happen.

However, Steph is having none of this. Before I go on, I would like to draw attention to the fact that Steph still hasn’t presented anything to support her facts and figures claims. Now, though, she brings out the links to support her “handguns banned in the UK claim”:

According to the Home Office’s own figures, there has been an exponential rise in handguns in circulation since the ban.

Bzzt. Where are the figures? I cant find them. It is, conceptually, mad anyway. How do they know how many illegal guns are in circulation?

There has also been a dramatic rise in gun crime, including non fatal shootings and gun homicides, since the handgun ban.

Bzzt. Again, sensationalist terms to mask a non-statement. Handguns are not banned. Their ownership is controlled. This is very different.

This is an objective and provable fact, which inescapably proves that the handgun ban in Britain has failed.

Eh? Prove it then. Is it me, or does this read like creationist screed? (**) Lets look at the Home Office figures (as an example). That page states: “Contrary to public perception, the overall level of gun crime in England and Wales is very low – less than 0.5% of all crime recorded by the police” and “The number of overall offences involving firearms fell by 13% in 2006/07 compared to the previous year.” Oh dear, Steph. I think you are wrong. Feel free to give up now. (its OK, I know you wont).

Also, the only legal usable handguns permitted in the UK are Muzzle loaders and historic cartridge firing handguns, which need black powder to fire and have to be kept at designated sites.

Bzzt. Wrong. If you are a member of a licensed gun club you can shoot pretty much any handgun you want. Automatic rifles are restricted, but if you want to fire a Desert Eagle, you can do so. As long as you have a firearms certificate.

The only exemption to this are the security forces and licenced arms dealers.

Good old Northern Ireland phrase there. In the UK they are called the “Military” or the “Police.” They have different functions. Makes you wonder who the licensed arms dealers sell to when no one can own guns, doesn’t it?

Steph was not happy at my pointing out the factual errors (or the lack of any evidence for her claims) and responded with this stroppy rebuke:

@ Troll
Northern Ireland is part of the UK not Britain, and there has been a handgun ban in Britain since 1997.
Relevant legisaltion:
Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997
Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Commencement) (No.1) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Commencement) (No. 2) (Amendment) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Firearms of Historic Interest) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 (Commencement) Order 1997
The Olympic shooting team affected by legislation banning the ownership of a handgun in Britain.

BTW stop stalking me.

Oh no. I’ve been called a troll and told to stop stalking her. OMG. Her argument MUST be watertight. Woe is me.

In reality, it is still badly thought out nonsense. She began by regurgitating what I had told her (that NI is part of the UK, therefore her claim that a UK firearm ban meant the Olympic team had to go to NI to train was madness), but I cant work out why.

She then, oh joy, points to the 1997 Firearms Act. Evidence. Something we can pin down and look at together. Here the Office of Public Sector Information comes in handy. It has the act online, so we can quickly examine Chapter 5, part 1 (as it may be the most relevant). For ease, I will copy the bits I want you to read here.

First off, the bit Steph is hanging her hat on is the fact this act does indeed change the regulations regarding:

any firearm which either has a barrel less than 30 centimetres in length or is less than 60 centimetres in length overall, other than an air weapon, a small-calibre pistol, a muzzle-loading gun or a firearm designed as signalling apparatus

However, it does not ban them. It requires the owner to posses a “Firearms Certificate.” You can, believe it or not, even carry it around the country:

A person whose firearm certificate for a small-calibre pistol is held subject to a condition that the pistol must be kept at licensed premises of a licensed pistol club may make an application in the prescribed form to the chief officer of police for the area in which he resides for a permit under this section authorising a person specified in the permit to have the pistol in his possession outside those premises for any proper purpose.

This is not “banning” weapons, it is simply ensuring people who own a gun look after it and have a “good reason” to own it.

The big issue of the 1997 act was to apply the requirements of the older acts to handguns so that, for example, you needed a firearms certificate to purchase a gun or ammunition. You had to purchase them in person rather than mail order (or internet). You had to convince the Chief Constable of your area that you were competent at storing and safeguarding the weapon. Etc.

All of this washed over Steph. He response was:

The 1997 “handgun ban” (so referred to in Hansard) – relevant legislation (available online here):
Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997
Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Commencement) (No.1) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Commencement) (No. 2) (Amendment) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Firearms of Historic Interest) Order 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 1997
The Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 (Commencement) Order 1997
He hardly needs saying, but there is a handgun ban in Britain!!!
The rise in gun crime since the 1997 ban (Home office figures), especially handgun crime, is proof that the handgun ban hasn’t worked!
So really, fuck off and stop stalking me.

Well, really. Clueless and rude. Obviously every gun club in the UK is breaking the law. I have tried turning super grass to SOCA but they don’t seem interested. I wonder why…

* interestingly January 1998 reveals there were 7 deaths in Ulster. Not exactly an exponential rise, is it? There was 1 in January 2001. It strikes me, as more weapons were taken out of circulation, there were actually less shootings. How bizarre.

** Yeah, I know that is an ad-hominem. Sorry.

2 thoughts on “Clueless and rude

  1. This post really made me laugh. Your deconstruction of a flawed argument is very nicely done.

    In any case, it’s clearly impossible that you’re stalking Steph. Everybody knows you’re spending all your stalking time shadowing Brigitte Kendall.

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