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Surprising Science

Examining UK Gun Crime 15 Years After Firearms Act

The law, which introduced severe restrictions, went into effect almost two years after a school shooting left 16 primary school students dead.

What’s the Latest Development?


Last week marked 15 years since the enactment of the UK’s Firearms Act, which prevents private citizens from owning most types of handguns and makes it much harder to purchase other types of guns, such as rifles and shotguns. The British parliament passed the law nine years after passing another gun control law that made semiautomatic weapons illegal. In the last 15 years, “more than 200,000 guns and 700 tons of ammunition have been taken off the streets” and although statistics show that the number of gun crimes increased at first, by 2005 a decline began that continues to this day thanks to strict enforcement and regular police sweeps.

What’s the Big Idea?

Both laws were enacted in response to mass shootings, with the Firearms Act motivated by a 1996 primary school massacre that left 16 5- and 6-year-olds dead. Today, “most gun crime can be traced to back to fewer than 1,000 illegal weapons still in circulation” and anyone looking to obtain a gun will find themselves “resorting to rebuilt antique weapons, homemade bullets and even illicit “rent-a-gun” schemes.” Gun rights activists say the bans go too far, stigmatizing legal owners as well as the traditional sport of game-hunting. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at The Washington Post


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