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I flicked on the telly box to BBC News this morning and…

Well they had guests. They had a posh young man from Wiltshire who had had a shotgun certificate since he was 11 and some dismal old trout from wherever wearing what looked like the torso of the Honey Monster in waistcoat fashion. She apparently founded a charidee or some form of theatrical gayness called “Mothers Against Guns” – at this point I wished I’d kept the puke bag from THY. So the posh fella explains that he needed his shotgun certificate – note not a license – as a minor all this enabled him to do was shoot clay pigeons under the supervision of an adult with a full license. In order to get even this he had been interviewed at length by a police firearms officer and his house had been inspected to ensure the gun or guns would be secure. This lad was a competition clay pigeon shooter. He was not the sort to walk into an HSBC and demand cash with menaces (from my experience of HSBC they are more likely to do that to the customer which is essentially why I don’t bank with them no more). But still this woman harrumphed and moaned during this fella’s explanation of the hoops he and his parents had to jump through so he could pursue a hobby he was clearly good at and which harmed nothing other than clay pigeons. Shooting clays is quite simply about as innocuous a sport as you can imagine but by this woman’s twisted logic because it involved a gun it had to be definitively evil.

I couldn’t watch much more but I think I saw enough. Her obvious discomfort was enough. I assume she founded this charidee because she had a child (probably a son) shot to death. I would bet my wife’s breasts that said gun was not legally owned. I would bet my own kidneys that tragic though her loss may have been (it may not have been exactly tragic – when I lived in Manchester a woman came on the local telly holding a candlelight vigil against guns in much the same way – her son had been shot dead in a a pub in South East Manchester – but you know how? He was a teenager and took a contract to off a drug dealer who managed to be swifter on the draw so my nano-scale violin plays the lament). It in no way involved folks in Wiltshire shooting inanimate objects for fun. Or indeed any of the totally justifiable reasons why one might want to own a gun. My brother has taken up archery. He does it with a mate of ours who is actually a copper. My Bro got into it after a trip to Vegas where he shot an AK-47 and loved it. Obviously back in England this was not an option so he took-up the bow. Now as our Frogulent pals discovered at Crecy and Agincourt a bow is also an extremely lethal weapon. But then so is everything if used right. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not defending the posh fella from Wiltshire having a shotgun purely because his personal use is clay pigeon shooting. Oh, no. I am perfectly happy with guns being used to cause lethal harm in the right circumstances. I only mention this chap because he was on TV and because his gun use was so impossible to “unjustify” that the only way to claim it was unjustifiable was to argue that guns in and of themselves are immoral and I will go to a pool party courtesy of Michael Barrymore before I will accept that there is any moral issue with shooting clay pigeons or gun ownership in general or indeed the general idea that inanimate objects can be discussed in moral terms at all. Obviously there are moral issues related to how guns are used but… Well do I need to draw a diagram? Lets not talk of guns, let’s talk of vans. When I last moved house my brother hired a van (it wasn’t a Transit but something of that ilk). This enabled a sofa (and much else) to be moved from Gateshead to Cheshire. You got a problem with that? Thought not. Ah, but what about vans in the service of evil? If you believe the media then loads, van-loads, of girls are being trafficked into my country as sex-slaves or something. Possibly dusting Lord Mandelson’s wainscotting – God knows! But when I was 17 I had an (un)fortunate encounter with a Transit – I use the brackets because whilst I was extremely unlucky to be hit given that I was hit I was extremely lucky to gt off with cuts and bruises – it was matter of cms and milliseconds between feeling pretty rough for a week and feeling nothing ever again. It was doing 60 through the fog and came off worse than I did (stern stuff us Geordies). My arm did though ache for weeks after. That was my left arm and my elbow took the wing-mirror off, “ouch!”. I also apparently left a Nick-shaped dent in the side of it in classic “spread-eagle” fashion. So let’s ban vans. Lets. Except this incident saw an NHS ambulance (which is essentially a van with flashing lights) pick me up and take me to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital A&E where the doctors and nurses glued (literally) me back together and sent me home. I had rather long hair back then so you should have seen the bottom of the shower the morning after – it looked like a field dressing station at Stalingrad. So you see for every problem a van creates, a van solves.

But if you think about it… The real problem here was the road and me being a bit late already and hurrying and it being very foggy. The problem was not the van. It was how straight that newly built bypass was which at the best of times made judgement of distance tricky and with a heavy fog up from the Tyne Valley impossible for both me and the driver. The devil was as ever in the details. As with shotguns. The BBC flagged-up the number of 11 year olds with shotgun certificates. This was apparently a bad thing. The real question here of course is how many pre-teen farmer’s sons and daughters actually murder people with them and this was not mentioned. Let’s just ban guns entirely (except for the cops obviously) because banning decent law-abiding citizens from owning lethal weapons will reduce the murder rate of course. What profound silliness!

The simple truth is that the sort of person who wants a legally owned weapon is not the problem. The criminal who doesn’t (by definition) give a monkey’s about the law as to owning a gun or pretty much anything else is the problem. Further restricting the generally law-abiding from legal gun ownership essentially prevents people from doing what they wouldn’t anyway.

I know it’s trite but there is truth in the NRA slogan, “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. And also their other slogan, “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns” rings similarly true. But then is that not the bansturbatory cycle? More gun regulation will inevitably lead to more shootings by criminals which will be spun as justification for even more regulation which completely misses the point that obviously the sort of people who cause problems with guns are also criminals who pretty much by definition don’t give a toss about the law anyway.

The same with vans I guess.

Or indeed anything.

I have never even touched a “live” firearm, never really had the chance. Does that make me ultra-moral by that lady’s obscure calculus? It probably does by her deranged reckoning because guns have to be intrinsically evil in her world. That is a failure of imagination. I could, but probably will not, do quite appalling things to you with a stick. Or a rock, or indeed anything the cave-personage Ugg could bring to hand. Essentially the intent is always the issue. Not the article. To believe so is to be mad. My wife has just driven off to go to the supermarket and meet her parent’s new dog. That is a ton of steel which could easily kill a small child. That ought to be banned. As should the dog which could also kill a small child. The fact my wife is a very safe driver and her parents are very good dog owners is not something that occurs to the bansturbators. Indeed if my brother had an AK-47 would I be scared? No. I have known him since the mid-70s (as long as anyone) and if he did have such a shooter I’d be like, “Can I have a go?”. Just for the hell of it. Not to kill anyone because quite frankly I simply don’t desire to kill anyone. Oh, George Monbiot is annoying but do I really want to empty a clip of 7.62 into his bladder? Probably not. Though I would insist on using things from my tool-box on his pal Jonathan. But then again that is the point. My tool box with which I fix computers and stuff contains vastly more vile (when connected to this brain that has read some awful stuff) possibilities than a mere shooting which is sort of clean in a way. Well cleaner than removing a rectum with a claw hammer.

Or to put it another way… Why should a 37 year old man (that’s me) not be allowed to carry despite in all those years never being even cautioned by the rozzers and that by some alchemical process improves public safety? Why? I’ll tell you why. Because the “do-gooders” think, they have it in their DNA, that if something is against the law their work is done because obviously making something against the law solves the problem by which I mean as far as they are concerned and they can then wash their hands of it. They think that if guns are illegal shootings will also be and essentially that by making guns against the law they feel their work is indeed done. Because making a bad thing against the law works right? Well, yeah, except it doesn’t with respect to criminals does it? It doesn’t because… Do I need to explain again?

And they clearly never hung in the gaffs I have. And I have lived in some rum cribs in my time. Meanwood Road in Leeds springs to mind.


  1. Pogo says:

    It’s quite strange really… By the time I was fourteen, thanks to the generosity of my school’s CCF, I and quite a number of my classmates had had the opportunity to shoot, not just .22 rifles, but Lee Enfield Mk 4 .303s, 7.62 SLR semi-automatic rifles, Sterling sub-machine guns, Bren guns and, best of all, the 7.62 GPMG belt-fed machine gun.. Yet none of us seems to have ended up as a homicidal maniac.

  2. JuliaM says:

    Excellent post!

  3. NickM says:

    So why have law-fearing subjects of the Crown be prevented from carrying arms? Why? Am I likely to shoot you? No. Am I more (probably not, but…) more likely to shoot the person trying to shoot you which I would if I could. Would JuliaM rest happier in her bed if I carried… Probs, Because if I was in the same area and someone pulled a knife and I could pull a gun… Would I rest personally better? Well, I’d trust Julia with a shooter more than myself. You get the point? I like folks around me to be armed more even being armed myself. I’d be much happier if either me or Julia had a shooter, much happier, than if neither of us had one.

  4. john in cheshire says:

    I believe that just as in the USA, it should be our right to bear arms. And many of the arseholes who now infest our country would, I suggest, think twice about their behaviour in public, if we were allowed to bear arms.

  5. Nelsontouch says:

    Carrying firearms in the UK was banned in about 1920, because the government feared that trade-unionists might get their hands on them and start a revolution. It wasn’t about “protecting the public” or children.
    In Victorian England, lots of people carried guns and police used to borrow off passers-by if a criminal had a gun.
    It is true that for decades the police and the crims had a sort of pact whereby the one wouldn’t carry guns if the other didn’t. That vanished long ago, though was still around at the time of the Great Train Robbery. No guns were used.

    I’ve fired lots of guns – Uzi, M16, Lee-Enfield – and have won shooting competitions – but am really rather pacifist and hate conflict. Sometimes it’s just a terrible necessity in this age of the world.
    But I’m generally in favour of kids learning about weapons. After all, for a million years we have survived from the African savanna to the rest of the world by wits and by handy use of weapons. All human societies use them. It is – you might say – species-specific.
    So nowadays we don’t learn about weapons, and we have an epidemic of gun crime. Go figure.

  6. HSLD says:

    I’ve met a lot of shooters. You tend to do that when you’re a gunsmith :)

    Everyone from the working class bloke who shoots rabbits and pigeons for the pot, through to a guy who owned a huge estate and spent £7k on night vision equipment for his gamekeeper without batting an eyelid. People who shoot targets at 1000 yards using open sighted rifles. Black powder enthusiasts with 300 year old muzzle loading technology as their primary interest. Even women and minorities – shock horror.

    Not a single one of them ever gave me a cause for concern as to their fitness to possess a weapon.

    I’d go further though and agree about the desireability of a US style RKBA. Although if it was ever implemented it would have to be accompanied by training courses if we weren’t going to have a huge amount of accidental shootings.

  7. Paul Marks says:

    Whenever an American gets very depressed “Paul how can we defeat the Evil One – he not only has the support of the media and the education system, he also has a billion Dollar warchest for the campaign” I have a simple reply to make them feel better.

    “If you think your position is hopeless – have a look at Britain”.

    One of my favourate arguments against “gun control” (years ago) was to say “look you can not ban something just because someone might use it to kill people – after a knife can be used to kill people, and you would not pass a statute trying to ban knifes….”

    This was before all major British political parties (including the one I have been a member of for 30 years) became obsessed with banning knifes.

    Old people used (in my youth) to tell me of the times when it was considered perfectly normal in Britian to own (and carry) firearms.

    Now I am in that position with knifes.

    “But what about the children….”

    “Well you see there were children called boy scouts and they…..”

  8. Rob Chambers says:

    When I heard this story on Today it sounded like typical BBC suburban hysteria – along the lines of “won’t somebody think of the children!”. Most of those who become familiar with firearms at a young age learn a healthy respect for them and grow up into perfectly well adjusted adults, I’m sure. Indeed, it pleases me to think that I’m one of them.

    I’m quite in favour of the right to keep arms rather than submitting to yet another national paranoia, but as to carrying them in public? Not so sure.

    I’ve lived in the states. Some of the people I knew who owned and used guns where fucking fruitcakes – real “Heeeeres Johnny!” types. Deer hunting season out in the sticks was always a nervous time for those of us who worked out there – .44 Magnums with sights? We’ve got ‘em. The statistics on people shot accidentally over there were and are frightening. This in a society which supposedly has a mature relationship with guns.

    One last “head over the parapet” thought and I’ll bugger off. My recollection is that the guns used at Hungerford, Dunblane and on my back doostep in West Cumbria last May were all legally posessed.

    Just sayin’.

  9. JuliaM says:

    ” Would I rest personally better? Well, I’d trust Julia with a shooter more than myself…”

    There speaks a man who’s never seen me try to play a FPS on the PS3.. ;)

  10. RAB says:

    The Gay Buddhist ( British friend of mine who lives in California) sent me an email a few weeks ago. He thought I would agree…

    Sorry Chris (for that is his name), I replied, but I disagree. I like guns. I was taught to use a shotgun aged 10, by my farmer’s son cousins. I was taught to use a .22 , 303 and handguns, by my two ex Vietnam Veteran friends in Pennsylvania, aged 21, and when I got married I found my ex 2 Para father in law, was a shooting champion, with several custom made rifles and an assortment of handguns to boot. Many a happy weekend we had using them at Bisley before he died.

    Having been taught to use weapons, I respect them, and follow all the rules surrounding them, but I really would like to own a handgun and be able to carry one.

    See, from my point of view, my carrying a gun is no different to my carrying a mobile phone (which I hardly ever use), it is there just for emergencies. If some nutter goes off in my vacinity, be it a college campus or an airport lounge or a shopping mall, I want at least a half chance of defending myself and others around me. Not running like fuck or pretending I’m dead and hoping the nutter will not make sure with a casual bullet to my head.

    Nutters will always find a way to create mayhem and death. We’ve had twats with Samurai swords and home made flamethrowers for fucks sake! If they want to kill they will. I just want the means, on my person, to stop them if I can.

    Back in the Late Victorian and Edwardian times, when our police were truly unarmed (they certainly arn’t now) members of the public used to lend them their own weapons to pursue armed criminals with! How far have we sunk.

    Course I am wasteing my breath, because we will never ever get the right to bear arms back in the UK. The rot is too far gone.

    Now slightly O/T but only slightly…

    I like to keep my eye in, and my old Webley air pistol is now pretty much knackered. I have a 30 foot hallway and used to put a small target mounted on hardwood down one end and fire darts rather than lead pellets at it cos they are reusable. What should I replace the Webley with, does anyone know? cos when I go to websites they are all talking gas cylinder and BB firing weapons. I want something that fires darts and is powerful and accurate. I don’t care how it is powered. Gas or manual spring loaded , single shot or multiple. Can anyone help me?

  11. HSLD says:

    Rab – darts aren’t kind to the barrel of an airgun ( being steel on steel ) and have lousy ballistic properties. Forget them. They have no secondary home defence capability either ( just in case you were thinking along those lines ) – we used to shoot them at each other all day long when we were kids and no-one ever got much more than a slight puncture wound.

    Air pistols in the UK are limited to 6ftlbs muzzle energy by law. To put that into perspective, the little .22 rimfire rifle round which isn’t much use for anything larger than a rabbit produces 120ftlbs

    In practice an air pistol will really struggle to achieve even the theoretical 6ftlbs limit because of the physics involved. Most average out at around half that.

    Why not buy another Webley ? they still make them ( AFAIK ) – the Tempest and Typhoon. Do yourself a favour and use lead pellets though – you’ll need a softer backstop which they can embed themselves in so they don’t come flirting back at you, but the accuracy is a lot better.

  12. JuliaM says:

    “Nutters will always find a way to create mayhem and death.”

    As we saw yesterday. Lightbulbs filled with ammonia, anyone?

    I’d have made the little darlings drink them, if I managed to catch one with a pocketful out of sight of the cameras…

  13. NickM says:

    Light bulbs filled with ammonia – isn’t that a bleach of the police?

  14. Have I fallen down a time loop?

    The BBC covered this three times already and the police took the unusual and sane step of explaining exactly the circumstances of them issuing the ertificates and how it is all above board and carefully monitored. Good; this is the police doing their job properly.

    Lucy Cope is under a very great strain, having had a racially mixed marriage, her husband died (possibly as a suicide, but its not clear), one son involved in the stabbing on another son, and one son shot, which means she is exceptionally dependent on the pressure group (it was not a charity when I checked a few months ago, but it has a Facebook page) to give form and focus to her life.

    She has had a very difficult life from an impoverished background in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Choosing to bring a large family of six boys up in Peckham did not perhaps set the most encouraging of examples to them, especially as by the early 80s most of the state secondary sector had been smashed by exceptionally bad educational theories.

    Whilst accepting that Andrew Wanoghu (sometimes spelt Wanogho) was a dangerous and unstable gang leader who wasassasinated by his ex-friends, it is also true that nothing will have been done for his temper by Damian Cope shooting him earlier, causing non-fatal injuries. It does, however, explain why Wanoghu then went out of his way to have Cope killed. There’s no doubt that Wanoghu was behind the murder of Damien Cope but he may not have been the trigger man.

    The case against Wanoghu collapsed, which must have been galling for Lucy Cope, but she has never come to terms with the real politick that Damien Cope may have been involved with criminal gangs.

    One bright note: the police continue to try to unpick the threads of black-on-black gun crime and have made some headway, although they recently faced a campaign of intimidation against people who might give them information.

  15. RAB says:

    Thanks HSLD, that’s the darts nixed then. The Typhoon looks to be fine for what I had in mind, and a snip at sixty quid or there abouts.

  16. stedmancinques says:

    My experience is much the same as Pogo’s, except that I never had the opportunity to fire a 7.62 GMPG, lucky sod; However, I have fired a 25lb. field gun on open sights at plywood tanks trundling about on narrow gauge rails down at Lydd. (12th City of London Regt, Royal Field Artillery, TA). You had to remember to take your eye to one side of the sighting telescope before firing to avoid looking as if you had enjoyed an average night out in Glasgow.
    I have also fired a 200 year old Afghani jezail, courtesy of a friend who was a black powder nutter. Most frightening thing I have ever handled!
    Seriously, though, it is a reasonable article of faith that there are no such things as dangerous weapons, only dangerous people. The principal problem is that the opportunity to acquire illegal firearms has become so much easier since the accession of former Soviet bloc countries to the EU. Therefore, they have become so much more common with the criminal elements and gangs who infest our inner city estates. (One of the ways in which the British Olympic Committee might achieve its declared aim of improving access to competition for ‘deprived’ groups and minorities would be to introduce ‘drive by’ events in the shooting……..)
    As for Rob’s point, the secretary of the gun club at Dunblane repeatedly told the police that in his opinion Thomas Hamilton was not a fit and proper person to hold a firearms permit, but was ignored; the problem with the law, like with so much of ZaNuLab legislation was that it curtailed previously held liberties, imposed bureaucracy, caused general inconvenience and hassle whilst doing nothing to actually address the problem. If anyone wants to take this point further, they might like to start a thread on CRB checks and the ‘Vetting and Barring’ Agency, which, fortunately, the present government has had the good sense to rein back on.

  17. Paul Marks says:

    Rob Chambers – do you really think a raving lunatic is going to respect gun control regulations?

    On the contrary – if you impose such regulations the “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” types are the only people who are going to be armed.

    Sound like a good idea to you?

    As for open or conealed carry.

    That is a matter of personal taste.

    But there is no point in owning a firearm if one has to leave in a locked gun cabinet somewhere.

    When the “here is J….” fellow starts opening fire, one has to be able to return fire.

  18. Paul Marks says:

    “But if there was strict gun control a lunatic would not be able to buy firearms or ammunition….”

    Hopefully no one will be stupid enough to make such objection.

    However, if anyone is…..

    There are many places in this country (pubs, night clubs, all sorts of places) where one can buy firearms and ammunition. And, no, the sellers do not make anyone submit to some “sanity” tests.

    I repeat – the only people who are going to respect firearms regulations are honest people in control of themselves.

    Such regulations turn these people into disarmed helpless victims.

  19. NickM says:

    What folks fail to get is the simple fact that any trade that is illegal is one where money does all the talking. So “mental” Dave can buy a shooter illegally if he ponies up the dough. No questions. It’s like the illegality of the drugs trade. You got the cash, you know a dealer fine.

    “Such regulations turn these people into disarmed helpless victims.”

    Or criminals. Don’t forget that. that is what happens when intent is taken out of the equation. Paul, I recall your blogopotamus on Samizdata recently. Some people didn’t get why your magisterial history of British political economy started with a discussion of free will. I did. Because the banning of guns rather than just the banning of murder or maiming is exactly the law of clockwork mice because they just can’t help themselves can they? I do have a clockwork mouse. It is a toy much loved by my cat. My cat! Timmy the cat likes to eviscerate it on the living room rug. He likes doing this because he is a cat. He also licks his arsehole in front of my mother-in-law. I love Timmy dearly but he is a cat and the feline tendency is the complete abdication of all morality. He is profoundly, utterly, wonderfully amoral and he is loved because he is a cat and can’t help himself on that score and is lovely and cute. But if he was a human it would be like having a Premiership footballer in the house. I mean he fondles my wife’s breasts as she sleeps, pukes for obscure reasons in the airing cupboard, refuses to eat food for arbitrary reasons or gorges himself for equally obscure reasons and then pukes in the airing cupboard or performs sex acts in the living room when we have guests and then thinks it’s all OK because he brings you a prezzie. Yeah, Timmy, the bottom half of a mouse – exactly what I needed. But that is cats.

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