Gun crime – and even “gun culture” – has been in the news of late, largely because the death of the youngest victim of gun crime has focused minds.
It might be argued that the headlines are sensationalist: that beyond reporting the sensational (that is to say, amazing and in no sense positive) events the capitalist press wish to ensure that the upcoming election is not fought over the EU constitution, Iraq and Afghanistan, the debt or housing crises, etc.
No matter what might have motivated this latest media circus, the fact that victims of, often gang-related, gun crime are getting younger despite legislation introduced in recent years should make us ask a few serious questions.
Proposed solutions, ranging from drop-off points to anonymously discard illegal weapons to scrapping the Human Rights Act, are predicated on a deliberately flawed understanding of how to reduce harmful acts. Deliberate because the truth cannot be told by bourgeois politicians – you do not serve a master by betraying his confidence, after all.
The truth is that gun control legislation has not been the most effective in reducing the number of guns in that part of the informal economy we call the black market. Only by limiting the number of small arms manufactured for export and ensuring that weapons are not smuggled into the country can the number of gun fatalities be reduced.
Though the streets would be safer for children on an evening, this wouldn’t be a win-win scenario: the owners of armaments manufacturers would lose out and naturally there would be job losses.
I’m sure you can guess which group of people the government is more concerned about. I’ll give you a clue: New Labour is not fearful of workers in the manufacturing sector being made redundant, for this has happened every week without troubling cabinet ministers too much.
I’m sure that if such radical proposals were to be considered, it would not be for too long, and a plethora of objections would be raised. For a start, the obvious objection would be that there would still be criminal activity involving weapons, which while true is beside the point: there would be less criminal activity involving weapons – because there would be less weapons to use in criminal activity.
Past attempts at gun control in the UK have been targeted at gun owners rather than gun makers: it is far easier for the capitalist state to disarm licensed shooters than deprive greedy profiteers. We have a situation where you can buy easily buy a gun, if you know how to go about it, yet the Olympic shooting team must travel abroad to train for the games.
I hope that gun control in the future can be more effectively directed, but I know that it will not happen under the current New Labour government or a future Tory or Liberal government…