Photo from the National Crime Agency of case involving 60 firearms smuggled in a car into the U.K.
Great Britain is home to some of the world toughest gun-control measures, yet a rising spate of recent gun crimes shows that these restrictions are failing to stop criminals and other dishonest citizens from getting their hands on firearms.
Gun-control rules are clearly not in control of this situation—which can serve as a lesson for U.S. gun-control advocates seeking to alter our country’s laws with the hazy goal of stopping gun crime.
The head of firearms the U.K.’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said high volumes of guns smuggled into the U.K. are “a pernicious threat” and are a profitable business enterprise for criminals who “can be increasingly innovative and operate in a highly effective way.”
But if gun control actually imposes limits on firearms, one might ask, where and how do these criminals obtain their guns?
Surprisingly, U.K. criminals have long-discovered cunning ways to sidestep strict gun control that predate the American gun-control debate itself. The BBC reports that criminals in Britain have resorted to reworking antique and obsolete handguns dubbed “imitation weapons,” modifying blank-firing pistols and using stolen or illegally purchased firearms to commit crimes. In some cases, criminals smuggle gun components into the country using the postal system, then assemble the pieces later. Many of these smuggling operations are being orchestrated by gangs and international organized crime groups. “In 2015, NCA officers seized a gun that had been sent to a man in the UK in the post, concealed within a radio,” noted the BBC.
In May, two men were sentenced in court for crimes involved in what is believed to be the U.K.’s first fully functioning firearms factory that made guns from scratch in a Sussex industrial estate. An NCA official told the BBC that the factory, which had parts to make 100 firearms, “was producing handguns, copies of a Browning pistol, from absolute scratch—from the nuts and bolts and producing fully functioning lethal firearms at the other end of it, with the bullets to go with it.”
And to anyone who believes gun ownership can somehow be regulated using DNA databases, another recent case from the U.K. demonstrates that even DNA matches are no surety for legal gun use—three identical brothers effectively used DNA to confuse police officers investigating their handling of illegal firearms destined for use by dangerous criminals. Investigating a case described as one that would baffle Sherlock Holmes, police initially couldn’t be sure which of the identical triplets handled illegal firearms because their DNA was so closely matched. The case involved possession of firearms including an Uzi sub-machine gun. The trio was convicted of handling illegal guns and each brother sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Obviously gun-control measures are not keeping firearms off the streets or out of criminal hands, but rather allowing organized criminals to have a vast monopoly on guns in a tightly controlled firearms market.
The situation in the U.K. demonstrates that changing our own country’s laws to inhibit the freedoms of law-abiding American gun owners will not effectively stop criminals from having the means and ability to commit gun crime.