Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Article excerpt

CONTRARY to what many people suspect, prohibition in a democratic society such as ours is rarely imposed without widespread public support. The question is, just how is that public support attained? In the case of the handgun ban, the job could be left to shock and outrage at the murder of schoolchildren in Dunblane. But what happens when the thing you wish to ban is only theoretically a menace?

Last week the Home Office minister, Charles Clarke, told the House of Commons that a further firearms Bill would apply new restrictions on airguns, requiring those weapons to be licensed for the first time. As evidence for the need for such a move, Mr Clarke cited figures revealing that the number of annual airgun offences had risen from 5,172 in 1987 to 7,506 in 1997. The public, in effect, was invited to picture a Britain where entire suburbs were ruled by the airgun, where youths barely out of short trousers were conducting pedal-by shootings. …

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