The Times newspaper has waded into the US Second Amendment debate, blaming gun crime in Britain on the sale of blank-firing pistols sourced from across the Atlantic.
Gun crime spiked immediately after the total ban of handguns in the United Kingdom in 1997, and has been fluctuating ever since, as police struggled to contain the flow of imported banned weapons which easily find their way into criminal hands. One method of acquiring a working firearm is the purchase of pistol blank-firers – which can be modified to take live ammunition – from dealers in other countries who will post them by ordinary mail to addresses in the United Kingdom, where they are illegal.
The US is seen as one of those source countries because of the large numbers of firearms on the market as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
The Times reports the comments of Britain’s police head of firearms, West Midlands chief constable David Thompson, who told the paper that blank-firers not only could function as ordinary hand-guns, but looked “as close to a handgun as you can get”. His West Midlands constabulary is now the gun-crime centre of the UK, overtaking London for the first time earlier this year as ethnic gangs battle it out for territory.
After campaigns to prevent the ingress of guns from Eastern Europe which are now the weapon of choice for Jihadist shooters on mainland Europe, British police say the United States is the main source for illegally held firearms in the United Kingdom. Operation Eaglehead, a joint effort between the ‘British FBI’ National Crime Agency, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security, have led to the seizure of 50 weapons in the past two years. Despite that, there were still 3,000 firearms offences in the UK in 2012-13.
Having banned all handguns and tightly restricted all other firearms, the British anti-gun lobby now has its sights on air-rifles, the low-powered pneumatic weapons that use compressed air to fire pellets and which are much loved by hobbyists, target shooters, and landowners for pest control.
Scotland quietly passed legislation this week requiring owners of the estimated 500,000 air guns in the devolved nation to apply to licences, and campaigners are gearing up to take the fight to Westminster next.
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