Of Guns In The United States And Great Essay, Research Paper
Within the United States, every police officer carries and is trained in the usage of firearms. Also, we have much less strict rules about gun usage and ownership of guns. Conversely, In Britain, only special police squads use guns and gun ownership is strictly regulated. This paper will attempt to compare and contrast gun usage in both societies and, hopefully, give a glimpse of the social implications of gun policies in both countries.
While in Great Britain, I had the chance to tour the West Bar Police Station and see from a first hand perspective how the British law enforcement system works differently than our own. Most of the officers I spoke to did not carry firearms and were quite surprised and even amused at the fact that most police officers carry fire arms. The general consensus seemed to be that they felt that they simply did not need guns for most situations, that the authority of the ?Bobby? was enough.
For situations that involved guns, the firearm squad was employed. This ?squad? consisted of two men, who were specially trained to wield firearms.
In order specialize in this field they had to undergo extensive physical, psychological, and mental tests to prove that they were capable to wield these weapons. They were very proud of their status as gun carriers in Great Britain, which is extremely rare. The South Yorkshire police employs 3,240 police officers and has only these two individuals to wield firearms.
The officers were very knowledgeable about the guns they displayed and the techniques involved in combat situations. They were very friendly and informative about the contrasting British system, and patient with the many questions students had. As we all were used to the American system, we were all quite surprised about how different it was.
However several times they aimed, accidentally, the guns at the students watching them. Even though all involved in the interchange knew that the guns were not loaded, some American students felt very uncomfortable, especially as two students had had negative experiences with guns. The officers laughed amiably at this discomfort reminding the students about the steps taken to insure firearm safety. Though it could be stated that they were callous, this would be a gross oversimplification. It was quite obvious from the officers? demeanors and the pride they took their position to educate and act with calm responsibility, that if they knew that they were truly making people uncomfortable they would have stopped.
I wonder how much of this was a cultural difference. In the United States, we are inundated with images of guns being used on the television. Also, it is not that odd for an individual to own a gun, in 1993 there was two million legally owned guns for use of defense . Conversely, in Great Britain it rather rare for an individual to own a gun. England and Wales gun ownership can account for 4.7% of households compared to the United States 48% of household owning a gun. It is possible to assume that the officers come from a society in which people are not as nervous about guns and trust those who have authority to wield them as clear about gun safety. On the other hand, there is a higher percentage of people from the United States who come in contact with guns and may feel and are trained differently about gun safety.
Through my stay in Great Britain, I had an opportunity to discuss the differences in attitudes about gun in the United States and Great Britain. Many people were amazed at the fact that Americans felt that gun ownership was an inalienable right. Though I could not say through my small informal discussions, I interviewed a stratified portion of British society, it felt as if the general populous did not seem comfortable with the idea of gun ownership for anything other than hunting.
One well-educated gentleman that I interviewed was shocked that Americans carry guns and, in his view, accepted the crime consequences that came from gun ownership. He half jokingly suggested that having a gun readily accessible must make a person more able to commit a violent action in the heat of anger. This viewpoint does not reflect any actual theory but only the views a person might have about guns linked to violent crime.
Another reflection about guns not being a large part of British society can be seen in a comparison of major newspapers in both countries. Thorough my research I looked at the ?New York Times?, the British ?Guardian? and the British ?Independent?. When using the word gun in search of the past years archives of the New York Times, I received 1423 hits, mostly related to gun control issues and crime in the United States. The same search of both of the other newspapers gave me 930 hits, with roughly half of the articles relating to gun issues of the United States, coarsely one fourth relating to issues in other countries, and approximately one fourth relating to guns in Great Britain.
The United States employs 74,493 officers endowed wit the responsibility to carry arms and make arrests. Each of these must follow rigorous training in firearm skill and appropriate usage. It is uncommon to an officer, even a university police person not carrying a firearm. This is dissimilar to the British system in which only a few officers have the rights to carry arms, and are strictly regulated about when they can use them. It is important to note that these variations reflect two different countries with contrasted values about gun usage, and does not reflect a moral distinction.
Also, the United States has more homocides than does Great Britain. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations crime report, the United States, in 1997, experienced 6.7 homicides per 100,000 people, 4.61/100,000 were firearms related. Conversely, in the same year, Great Britain had 1.41 homicides per 100,000 people, 1.41/100,000 of which were gun related. The United States ranked 10th in a study of 38 industrialized countries while Great Britain ranked 24th.
These statistics show a discrepancy in homicides in both countries and reflect a difference in each society as far as homicides and homicides relating to guns are concerned, and nothing more. It would be foolish to conclude that the one issue of gun usage in each society effects the number of death in each society. Rather, I would prefer to conclude that homicide rates and gun ownership, and police usage in each country reflects different societies and nothing more.
Through my research, I have read a bit of material about both the United States and Great Britain in relation to this issue. As it is an issue that people feel quite strongly about, one way or another, it is difficult to find information not tinged by individual opinion. All I have been able to conclude is that each country is different, not that one system is better than the other or is even applicable to one another.
While it would be a lie not to state that I am enamored by the British system. This is a merely a comparison of two different societies, not an attempt to prove one better than the other. After all each were developed in different ways and both societies deal with and view authorities, such as police officers, in its own way.
The Britons, with a society that was evolved from feudalism and deference to authority, lends a system in which a ?Bobbie? has the command of his position. Conversely, the United States is a society founded on rebellion and includes in its constitution the right to have and bare arms. Each is different enough to contrast, but too different to draw assumptions about which is better or worse.
Gary, Kleck and Marc Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of self-defense with a Gun”, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 1995, Vol. 86 No. 1.)
FBI Crime Report 1997 http://www.fbi.gov/ucr.htm
South Yorkshire Police department Website http://www.southyorks.police.uk/mainframe.html
National Association of Police Organizations, Inc http://www.napo.org/
National Police Association http://www.westol.com/npba/member.htm