A recent online poll given by The Telegraph finds that a majority of the participants supported repealing the ban on handguns and re-opening shooting clubs. The poll was given last Friday to the newspaper’s online audience, posing the question of which new proposals readers would like to see introduced as a bill in the United Kingdom’s Parliament.
According to the poll, an overwhelming 84 percent of voters backed repealing the handgun ban. Other options like proposing a flat tax or term limits on Prime Ministers were also mentioned.
“After all, why should only criminals be ‘allowed’ to possess guns and shoot unarmed, defenseless citizens and police officers?” commented online user “Colliemum,” who proposed the idea.
They are not alone in this sentiment, with over 11,000 polled readers agreeing that Britain’s long-standing handgun ban was an issue for contention. The British government passed the Firearms Act of 1997 in the wake of the Dunblane massacre, almost completely prohibiting handguns overnight. Over 162,000 handguns and 700 tons of ammunition were turned in following the ban. Only muzzleloaders and firearms of “historical or artistic value” were allowed to remain in private collections. Competitive and Olympic shooters were not exempt to this measure and often resorted to training in neighboring areas with less strict gun control. Gun laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland are more relaxed, with the latter being the only part of the UK where handguns are still permitted.
Britain’s staunch stand on gun control became a major focus of debate as a flurry of new gun control bills were introduced to the American legislature earlier this year. Proponents of gun control uphold the British model by citing the scarcity of firearms in the UK along with the seemingly low number of fatalities. Critics however, say that not only has the ban failed to provide a significant impact on gun crime, but rather stripped civilians of the ability to defend themselves.
Since 1997 several organizations, such as Arm Britain, have campaigned to repeal the law.