NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gun Control and Crime in England

December 2, 2002

Into the early 20th century, guns were as freely available in England as in America. Indeed, the English Bill of Rights of 1688 was unambiguously clear that the right to be armed was an individual right, independently of any collective right of militias.

In England over the centuries, "violent crime continued to decline markedly at the very time that guns were becoming increasingly available," says Joyce Lee Malcolm of Bentley College in her recent book, "Guns and Violence."

  • Over a late 19th century three year period, "there were only 59 fatalities from handguns in a population of nearly 30 million people," according to Professor Malcolm.
  • "Of these, 19 were accidents, 35 were suicides and only three were homicides -- an average of one a year."

But as England began restricting firearms severely after World War II, eventually disarming the civilian population of England, crime rates in general, and the murder rate in particular, began to rise.

  • In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s, there were more than a hundred times as many.
  • England has already surpassed the United States in rates of robbery and burglary.

Moreover, in recent years the murder rate in England has been going up, while the murder rate in the United States has been going down as more and more states have allowed private citizens to carry concealed weapons -- and have begun locking up more criminals.

Source: Thomas Sowell (Hoover Institution), "Gun control myths,", November 26, 2002.


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