A losing gun battle

I’ve said more than once that Britain’s handgun ban – gun bans anywhere really – are no barrier to criminals, starting back in March 09.

… let’s say [a criminal] really want[s] a gun. Well since they’re planning to break laws about killing people should we believe that the law banning guns is going to put them off for one nanosecond? If a gun is what they really want then won’t they simply try to get one (or more) illegally? It’ll be harder, but how hard is it really? Currently this guy is on trial for ordering gun parts from outside the UK and having them mailed – yes, mailed – to him. He says he planned to kill himself and while he may well honestly not have intended to hurt anyone else you have to wonder a bit about his state of mind. Still, the point is that he succeeded in getting a couple of guns and was in the process of getting at least one more. This kid bought a Taser, illegal under firearms laws in the UK, on holiday and simply brought it home. From time to time investigative journalists in the UK have shown that getting illegal guns is far less difficult or expensive than we’d like to think, and I think it’s safe to assume that the Northern Irish Peace Process didn’t allow legal ownership of the weapons used to kill two soldiers (and injure a couple of pizza deliverymen) and a police officer recently. So illegal guns are there for those who really want them.

And should we be surprised when it turns out it’s really not that hard to get a gun into Britain, lots of guns even, as long as you dismantle them and put the parts in different bags.

London and Washington were forced to hold crisis talks after the arrest of a private security consultant accused of trafficking more than 80 handguns packed in his hold luggage.
Steven Greenoe, 37, was stopped by security staff on at least one occasion when screening detected “multiple firearms” in his suitcases.
But he was able to talk his way on to the flight from Atlanta to Manchester and is believed to have delivered the weapons to criminal contacts in Britain’s North West.
US court papers obtained by The Times allege that a number of Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistols were offered for sale at up to £5,000 a piece in Britain a week after they were bought by Mr Greenoe for $US500 each in a North Carolina gunshop.
Police chiefs across Britain were given a detailed briefing just before Christmas on the hunt for 60 weapons, including more than 20 Glock pistols and more than a dozen Ruger handguns, that are still unaccounted for. Five guns have been recovered in the UK and ballistic tests show that one was used in a drive-by shooting in Manchester last October.
After consistent success in driving down gun crime [Ha – AE] the discovery that criminals have found a source of powerful firearms has alarmed police.

Mr Greenoe was arrested in the United States in July, with 16 pistols in his suitcases, after a British-led investigation that began when police in the North West recovered a number of new handguns.
… He was able to exploit relatively lax security at the local airport, Raleigh-Durham international, by dismantling the guns and distributing the parts among several suitcases. On each trip the cases were checked on to a domestic flight to Atlanta then transferred to a Delta transatlantic flight to Manchester.

So, much like the guy from my first blog on guns who was simply ordering the parts and putting them together to make a complete gun, all this Greenoe bloke had to do was to take the guns apart so they didn’t look all that gun like anymore. And with that sort of cunning who can possible blame the people who’s job it is to screen bags?

Dismantled Glock 17 – none of the parts look anything like a gun, eh?


So the fact that Greenoe got through Customs on multiple occasions while a couple of years ago someone was having gun parts posted to him, along with the rather important detail that the investigation began not with Greenoe being caught at the airport but with the recovery of US bought guns that were already in Britain, the obvious conclusion would seem to be that they can’t thoroughly check every single one of the millions and millions of pieces of luggage and mail entering the UK. Even if you can solve that problem the article implies that this means of gun running is unusual and that most guns come into Britain from Europe, which means it’s not just millions and millions of pieces of luggage and mail but also millions and millions of pieces of freight as well. On top of that you need to consider than while Britain might not feel like a large country it’s pretty big as islands go and has more than 11,000 miles of coastline. Is it all watched all the time? Is there nowhere you could sneak in by boat? I doubt it, and it’s probably worth it if each trip you can drop off a few dozen guns worth five grand each to Britain’s criminals. And even if you tackled all of that successfully it’s still possible to make a home made gun – primitive and risky for the user, sure, but still a gun. Do you think not one single criminal in Britain has ever Googled that? No? Me neither.

What all that means is that you simply cannot keep guns out of the hands of criminals. You just can’t. If they want them they will get them, and while there’s a limit to what the police can do about it the important thing to remember is that the law can do even less simply because criminals don’t obey it.

So think on those laws that in the name of keeping everyone safe prevent law abiding British citizens from having a gun but are fundamentally incapable of preventing criminals having them. And ask yourself what the hell they’re for.

Posted on January 25, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A losing gun battle.

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