Mirror.co.uk, the online version of the British tabloid The Daily Mirror, recently published the groundbreaking results of their “probe into firearms in the UK.” The report begins with the article’s most important piece of news: “Nearly 4,000 British youngsters have shotgun licences.” The exact number is 3,982—a full .03% of the country’s under-18 population. Terrifying.
But wait, the good journalists at the Mirror aren’t done rocking your world. The second Pulitzer-worthy bit of reporting is even crazier than the first: according to the British Home Office, “there are 1.3 million legal shotguns in England and Wales alone.” Again, that’s 1.3 million guns legally owned and operated by responsible English and Welsh residents. When will the madness end?
This, apparently, is how “Britain’s brightest tabloid newspaper” and the self-proclaimed “website of the year,” covers firearm news. If you’re wondering how the Mirror’s “findings” count as anything close to newsworthy, you’re not alone.
But it doesn’t take long to figure out that the trumped-up statistics are just an excuse to promulgate anti-gun propaganda. The first quote in the article is from the Gun Control Network’s Gill Marshall-Andrews, who gravely warns, “Youngsters with access to shotguns should always be worrying.”
Another gem from Ms. Marshall-Andrews appears later in the article. Referring to children’s shotgun certificates, she says, “In a way it is a historical hangover that we just can’t seem to shake.”
At one point the article makes a weak attempt to link its investigation to the terror attacks in Paris, noting that “the revelation [that 3,982 British kids under age 18 have shotgun certificates] emerged as the National Crime Agency was ordered to prioritise a firearms crackdown amid fears of a Paris-style terror attack in the UK.”
Never mind the fact that none of the Paris terrorists used shotguns or the fact that shotguns wouldn’t be as effective as rifles in most terror situations. A gun is a gun, and all guns are scary.
But don’t judge the Brits just yet. The article did include several quotes from Liam Stokes, head of shooting campaigns for the Countryside Alliance, who said: “Legally held guns aren’t dangerous… We fully support efforts to crack down on terrorism and criminality, but that’s a world apart from legal shooting.”
These quotes appear at the end of a lengthy article as a kind of afterthought, but we’ll take what we can get.
Also, if the article’s comments section is any indication, our pro-gun brothers and sisters across the pond aren’t taking the Mirror’s article lying down.
One of the article’s commenters—RuhRoh—sums it up well:
What a crock of rubbish
Another—DiggoryHadoke—is less direct but somewhat more articulate:
An ‘investigation’ to find out what law abiding people are doing to carry out an activity – finds out that a lot of people are complying with the law! What a waste of time. Poorly researched, biased and sensationalist. Recreational, sporting and animal control uses for firearms have been legitimately going on in the UK forever. All it exposes are that most people are blissfully ignorant of the countryside, shooting sports and the non-link between thousands of legitimate, licensed gun owners and crime.
We couldn’t have said it better.
(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Jordan Michaels. Cover photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)