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12/10/2005

Risk of gun crime increasing in Britain

Well, banning handguns in 1997 doesn't seem to have made the job of being a police officer safer. If anything, the reverse is true. The last part of the article confirms what I have frequently argued about how gun ownership in the US deters criminals.

READING, England – Former Garland police Officer Ben Johnson, celebrated three years ago as the first foreigner to become a British police constable, provoked a national uproar this week after saying he would resign to protest a ban on officers carrying guns.

Mr. Johnson, 34, said the increasing risk of encountering a gunman who could render his 18-month-old daughter fatherless has caused the former Texas officer to reconsider his work. He is now the focus of a British media frenzy, having the unique perspective of having fought crimes on both sides of the Atlantic.

"I have to think of more than just myself now," he said in an interview. "Now that I'm a father, and I have a young daughter, it's even more important that I receive the proper training and equipment. I'm not afraid to be a police officer. I'm just more acutely aware of the fact" that training and arms should be integral to that job. . . .

British criminals seem far more bold and less fearful of confrontation, injury or punishment, Mr. Johnson said. He attributed it to the fact that Americans are permitted to guard their homes with guns – and would-be burglars know it.
"Here, it's quite common that burglars will break in while people are asleep in bed in the middle of the night," he said. "It is a common thing, which I think does reflect on the legal right to protect your home."
Without the deterrent effect of a homeowner's gun, he added, "there's not that threat to burglars, so we have a much higher rate of home break-ins [with the occupants present]."

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