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News Public opinion regarding US Gun laws.

  1. Oct 12, 2012 #1
    About a month ago 2 police officers were killed in a "Gun and grenade attack" in Greater Manchester, UK:


    This lead to the inevitable re birth of the topic "Should we arm our police force?"

    This will not happen in the UK, at least not in the foreseeable future, however once every few years an incident will occur which leads certain people to ask the question - Incidentally carrying guns would not have saved the lives of the two very unfortunate officers in the case above.

    A discussion (among some friends) around the issues of an armed police force followed (escalation, cost of adequate training, the responsibility of effectively having a button that will instantly end a life and how easy it is to make snap judgements in 'heated' situations) this subsequently lead to us discussing general firearm licencing laws, home and abroad.

    Now, in the UK we generally have a very "Guns are used to kill people - Guns are bad" attitude in fact a 2006 survey of 47,328 Police Federation members found 82% did not want officers to be routinely armed on duty, despite almost half saying their lives had been "in serious jeopardy" during the previous three years - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19641398

    and to that end we often look at Americas apparently relaxed attitude to firearms as curious. This lead me to wonder what the general public in the US feel about the current gun culture, I was reading some general facts and figures on fire arm policy (link below) and I understand that laws generally differ slightly from state to state but generally is there a feeling that wide spread possession of fire arms is a bad thing? (88.8 guns per 100 people, 25% of adults owning a firearm - According to the links below anyway)

    or is it so ingrained into the culture that little thought is paid to the matter on a day to day basis?

    Although this is directed at the Americans out there (I imagine you are in the majority on this forum) obviously I would welcome some insight into laws and the general feelings of non Americans reading this - It would interesting to compare and contrast ideas and opinions from around the world!



    N.B - For the sake of saying my bit I very much follow the general public opinion in England that the distribution of firearms or even the arming of the police force (with the exception of specialist tactical units) will do a lot more harm than good... although I welcome any attempt to change my opinion on that matter.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2012 #2
    Although I am not aware of any polls on the topic, support for gun rights seems to be widespread and does not seem follow any strict political, racial or gender profile. In the past 20 years with the exception of the now expired "Assault Weapon Ban" (which was largely cosmetic) gun laws have become more liberal: more and easier to get concealed weapon permits, allowing firearms in National Parks, some states allowing carry on college campuses, etc. Many politicans of both parties take great care to maintain their NRA ratings. Even President Obama, who is willing to campaign on issues which divide the country has not mentioned guns in his current campaign. In the two years when the Democrats controlled the WH and the Congress they did not pass any significant gun laws. This evidence seems to indicate that support for gun rights is deep and widespread here in the USA.
  4. Oct 12, 2012 #3
    Gun laws vary a great deal from one state to another. Nobody knows how many we have. Your number is probably for registered guns. Most estimates I've seen are about 2.5 guns per person. From my anecdotal experience I'd say it is probably higher. Most folks I know have at least one or two, but I know people who have dozens and a few that have at least 200. If I meet someone on the street I assume they are armed. I once had my car break down and I decided to walk ten miles home. I was openly carrying a shotgun that I did not want to leave in the car. A guy picked me up and gave me a ride. He had at least four guns in the truck cab that I saw and no doubt more that I did not see. We had a friendly conversation and the subject of guns never came up. The fact that we were both armed was a matter of routine. I know an elderly couple who have dozens hidden in their home, in both cars, in their RV, and on their person. It is that much a part of the culture.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  5. Oct 12, 2012 #4
    I don't see how you could possibly know that. Had they been armed maybe Mr Cregan would have thought twice about trying to ambush them in the first place so who knows? We could go round and round with "what if" all day so it isn't a point I intend to dwell upon in any great detail as it detracts from the serious discussion to be had.

    The risk of (the criminal) getting killed far outweighs the benefit of carrying a firearm in most cases. They have to get hold of a firearm first which isn't suddenly going to become easy just because the police have them. Most of the western world manages to deal with this issue so I'm not sure why we in Great Britain would struggle. If we can't trust our police officers with firearms we really should not be trusting them with police powers in the first place.

    I'm not sure the public in Great Britain would notice if the police were armed or not. A lot of them seem to think police are armed anyway. The police in Northern Ireland are armed as a matter of course and they manage not to shoot everything that moves (as do the police in many, many other countries). We're far too reticent to acknowledge the fact that the police sometimes have to do things which aren't very nice to protect law and order.

    Personally, I think it is utterly scandalous that we do not give our police officers the proper tools to protect themselves and others. This quaint image of Dixon of Dock Green is putting lives at risk and the public don't seem to see that. The only argument, for me, that makes any sense is that officers don't want to carry a firearm but even then I'd wager a lot of that is down to myths about firearms that pervade British society. I'd like to see another poll taken, a lot has changed since the last one was done.

    Incidentally, the training police officers in England, Wales and Scotland get in relation to what to do when faced with a firearm is basically to run away and hide behind something. That is an utterly ridiculous situation to be in and I can only imagine how helpless these officers must feel having to wait for armed units that could be 10/20/30 minutes away. The same goes when faced with a knife, they have a short piece of metal and a can of glorified silly string. I'd say it is by luck more than anything that more officers haven't died or been seriously hurt in various situations.
  6. Oct 12, 2012 #5
    That's a very interesting point about how the issue is reflected in the topics under discussion around election time. I'm shocked to hear that some states permit firearms to be carried in colleges (more shocked that the colleges allow it to be honest). Are you constantly aware of the fact the people around you will be armed, or does it pass without thought?

    What is the permitting process like where you're from? Is it a simple matter of a quick background check to make sure you haven't shot anyone in the last 18 months for example?
  7. Oct 12, 2012 #6
    There is pretty much nothing in that post that hasn't shocked me lol. Accepting that this is based on your personal experienced and not necessarily representative of the state/country as a whole, the fact you don't think twice about picking up someone carrying a shotgun or think twice about getting into a truck with someone armed to the teeth is a little strange to me.

    Is it possible that the de sensitisation to guns is a bad thing? If its common place to carry a weapon around the street does this make it easier for "bad people to do bad things" for lack of a better term? It must be reflected in the homicide rates described in the link I posted above, i'll have to compare them against other countries to be sure of course.
  8. Oct 12, 2012 #7
    I am in New Mexico. Open carry is allowed without permit except in courthouses, schools, bars and liquor stores. A concealed carry permit requires fingerprints, photo, firearms safety course and minimal proficiency; a felony background check is done. No permit is required to carry while in/on your vehicle (auto, horse, bicycle, motorcycle, snowmobile) which is considered an extension of your home. In New Mexico the crime of carjacking is often referred to as "attempted suicide".

    It does not concern me at all that many of my fellow citizens are armed in public, in fact, I find it reassuring.
  9. Oct 12, 2012 #8
    And then....

    ... Does it, how could you know that. Do you not think that with an armed police force criminals will attempt to better arm themselves, and I'm not sure how you know the ease with which criminals in England acquire firearms, I don't.

    I did actually say that on the back of a T.V news report in which various professionals suggested (given an examination of the scene) that it would not have helped.

    I'll re direct you to the earlier post in which the statistics clearly state that the police don't feel the need, nor want to carry guns.

    The stats detailing homicide rate in the US are not myths.


    I'm not aware of this (despite my dad being a police officer for 33 years) could you provide me with a reference as to where you got that information.

    Forgive me for not being convinced by your speculation that luck is to thank for the fact that our police are not regularly seriously injured.
  10. Oct 12, 2012 #9


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    I live in rural Maine. Every single household within a mile of my place has guns. Guns for hunting, for pest-control, and for home defense. With the exception of one household (older couple) every house has at least one dog. Great alarm systems as well as companionship.

    That's just the way it is here. If meth-heads want to engage in home invasions and robbery to support their habits (a big deal out here), they would be well-advised to pick softer targets, or end up in the morgue.

    For the record, our little town has no PD, and we only get occasional patrols by the county sheriff (I can't remember the last time I saw a county mountie drive by), and we are at least 20 minutes away from a 911 call to having a state trooper or sheriff's deputy show up. You're pretty much on your own here, at least for the short term. Actually, I don't regard 20 minutes as "short" if someone is trying to break in, but that's another discussion.
  11. Oct 12, 2012 #10
    Yes, and we look at your apparently very restrictive attitude to them as curious:tongue: We also arm our police.

    One thing to remember about the right to bear arms that a lot of people never consider is that it is one of the most fundamental rights of nature, i.e., one's right to protect themself. It is interesting politically that often times you'll have people who will argue very passionately about one's right to their own body, that NO ONE should have any right to tell you what you can or cannot do with your own body, that if there is any very fundamental right of nature, it's one's right to their body. But then a lot of times these same people will be very anti-gun rights, and by extension, anti-one's right to protect themself.

    Now we understand this right implicitly when it comes to wildlife. Walk up to a squirrel and pick it up and if it bites you, a lot of people would have the attitude of, "Well what did you think was going to happen!? It had no idea what you were going to try to do, so it is going to try and defend itself." With humans, you can't protect yourself from other animals in the wilderness if you aren't armed. And you will not be able to protect yourself against other humans, who will likely be in groups such as gangs or tribes, and armed themselves, unless you yourself are armed. So by its very nature, your natural right to protect yourself entails a fundamental, pre-existing individual right to bear arms.

    Living in modern societies reduces the need to exercise this right, but it doesn't eliminate it. There are criminals who do not abide by the law, instances where civil order breaks down due to social unrest or natural disaster, and sometimes a people may have to overthrow a tyrannical government

    Homicides I would argue are not caused by the prevalance of guns so much as things such as poverty, drugs, gangs, the breakdown of the family unit, and so forth. Most of the U.S. gun violence occurs in our major cities, and tends to be in the inner city areas:

  12. Oct 12, 2012 #11
    Ben: honestly, I don't normally think about it any more than I think about how many hammers a carpenter might own. I attended a funeral for a very old lady who was much loved and well respected in the community.

    She had a large extended family and they all came from out of town. They were all well educated professional people. Afterwards I asked one of her sons what sort of gun I should buy for my wife to carry. I told him what she already had and that she does not like it. So he called his wife over and told her to show her gun to my wife. She started to pull one from her purse, and he said, "Not that one, the one on your leg."So she reached under her skirt and handed a pistol to my wife. The two ladies had a long conversation and I ended up buying one just like it.

    Her husband then asked me if we wanted to see anything else. He said that among his family in church right then they had about 300 guns and thee times that in the parking lot.

    Nobody present thought that odd or expressed any concern about.

    I don't know anyone not in law enforcement who has ever had a reason to point a gun at anybody, let alone to shoot at them. That is not what it is about. To many, it is simply a patriotic duty to own guns and to be ready to use them. The belief often is that if you are ready to use them, then you probably won't have to use them.
  13. Oct 12, 2012 #12

    No, I don't. What incentive is there for a petty thief (for example) to carry a firearm just because the police also do? If he gets caught with it, he's going to prison for a lot longer than if he gets caught with a gammon joint shoved in his jacket. He's also more likely to get shot. It doesn't happen in plenty of other countries where the police are routinely armed so why do you think it would happen here?

    I'd also ask your Father about what happens when armed officers turn up on scene and the effect that can have on non-compliant persons. A lot of them do not want to get shot and I don't think for a second that is a great revelation.

    The availability of illegal firearms in the UK isn't exactly a secret. That's just the first link that came up from Google, I'm sure you could find a lot more if you wished.

    An expert says something on TV so it must be true? You're easily convinced.

    Which you might have noticed is something I mentioned as probably the only reason that makes any sense to me.

    I fail to see the relevance of that to arming the police in Great Britain...

    Is he still serving? If he is then he will have been taught the Six Cs method during OST or a subsequent refresher (or should have been). When my parents last served I don't believe it was taught that way but something very similar was. One of the ACPO guidance manuals details it, I forget which one though. This link should help you in case you don't believe me.

    Out of interest what did you think they did?

    Believe what you like.
  14. Oct 12, 2012 #13
    Hey skippy, thanks for your insight into the laws in your state. Very interesting. It does fascinate me though how you can, in one breath, say that car theft can be considered suicide (i.e. someone will kill you for trying to steal their car) and in another breath say you feel remeasured by the fact that people have, and can use at any time (under their own justification) a firearm.

    Don't get me wrong I'm not claiming that your wrong for thinking that but it is an interesting disparity from the view widely held "this side of the pond".

    Maybe I just lack faith in peoples ability to act rationally and hence giving them a "death at the push of a button device" is not in my best interests, however your experiences seem to differ from mine. Which is point of this thread I guess!
  15. Oct 12, 2012 #14
    lol that's a fair point!

    I'm sorry but I think this is ridiculous! Yes you should have a right to do what you want with your own body, but should right extend to putting a hole in some one just because YOU (one person) feel like they deserve it? What about their right to a fair trial? or their right to their own (living) body? As for a fundamental right of nature, I'm sorry but a squirrel instinctively biting you because it feels uncomfortable is not analogous to shooting, and hence intentionally killing, another human.

    I completely agree with your first sentence but this is why we have state funded police services and not a series of renegade vigilantes. And not abiding by the law surely (given that the average person is not a judge) should not give any one the right to shoot a person.

    I appreciate you posting a reference for your statement, and I agree that this is probably the case, however the root issues that you mentioned are not limited to large American cities; poverty, drugs and broken homes are universal problems, but at the end of the day not having easy access to firearms makes it harder for an impoverished or deprived person to shoot someone, does it not?

    No matter what your reasons are to kill, it is easier to kill a person with a gun than by any other means (it is far less personal i.e. it requires minimal contact and requires far less action i.e. pull a trigger - job done)

    I'm not sure you can argue that gun relates homicides would not be reduced by making firearms illegal.
  16. Oct 12, 2012 #15
    Cheers Pkruse, this is the sort of response I was after. As much as I find the scene you describe odd (and a little disturbing lol) I know its only because of my own prejudices and the that I'm used to a relatively gun free culture. I was wondering is the peoples opinion was reflected in the law and, apparently it is.
  17. Oct 12, 2012 #16
    In all fairness we do have tactical armed units that are called upon in necessary circumstances, but these guys don't deal with pretty criminals... unless a firearm is involved. If they don't have a firearm I would say the risk of someone getting shot was infinitely less compared with a case where the police are armed.

    Are suggesting that a senior police officers statement is in valid just because it was aired on TV?.... In fairness it's probably the best point you've made so i'll retract my statement that it definitely would not have helped, but we still can't be sure that it would have helped - I think that's fair.

    what you actually said was..

    "The only argument, for me, that makes any sense is that officers don't want to carry a firearm but even then I'd wager a lot of that is down to myths about firearms that pervade British society. I'd like to see another poll taken, a lot has changed since the last one was done." ...... that was the actual statement you made and the "myths" about firearms that lead to our "biased view" are the "myths" regarding gun crime and gun related homicides in places like the US - That's the relevance!

    and we don't need to take a new survey, what has really changed in relation to gun crime in the last 6 years, you can't say "a lot has changed" and then not give an example!

    Ok for some reason the links you gave are not working (might be my internet) I will ask him about it but on a quick Google search the Six Cs method during OST came back with nothing but a link to this thread and by ACPO guidance do you mean the police first aid learning programme? I will ask him about this (he is asleep at the moment) and if he tells me your right I'll be sure to let you know... if not I'll probably, to be honest ill probably tell you as well.

    Generally what I like are things that are not borne out of speculation... you can't say "I think its just luck" and expect to be taken seriously, surely?
  18. Oct 12, 2012 #17


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    It's definitely not common Ben. You won't find anyone around where I live with a gun. I don't even know anyone that owns a gun and I am for gun control. Not all Americans are gun crazy.

    The number of Americans that own guns is a minority, with maybe 1/3 of adults admitting to owning one. Now the ones that own them tend to own more than one. Although around 41% claim they have a gun somewhere on their property.


    Another article you might like to read.


    I think that threads like this tend to draw the gun enthusiasts and skews perception. :smile:
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  19. Oct 13, 2012 #18


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    Alaskan here; I have three rifles and a compound bow. My guns are not for shooting people, not even for self-defense. They're for hunting.

    Of ~70 murders in Alaska from 2003-2005, 82% if them involved handguns (no reports of rifles). However, 3% of deaths (overall deaths) were from firearm accidents (not sure if handgun/rifle).

  20. Oct 13, 2012 #19

    Based on some of the comments I've read I was starting to get that impression.

    Cheers Evo I'll have a look through the links you've posted.
  21. Oct 13, 2012 #20


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    Your own link shows this to not be true. The 6 Cs you refer to are:

    1. Confirm as far as possible the location of the suspect and that firearms are involved without unnecessarily exposing yourself to danger.

    2. Cover to be taken, if possible, behind substantial material. Brick walls are usually sufficient. Motor vehicle bodies or wooden fences do not stop bullets.

    3. Contact your supervisors and convince them of the serious nature of the risk and call for suitable back-up.

    4. Civilians should be directed to a place of safety. Be positive.

    5. Colleagues should be prevented from coming into possible danger areas. Direct them positively.

    6. Contain the situation as far as practicable. Try to maintain observations on the suspect, but place emphasis on safety.

    It is extremely mischaracterizing bordering on misinformation for you to describe this as "run away and hide behind something".
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