Gun Crime

My friend David Andrews has a plan to cut gun crime. Read his idea, then read what I think about it...

How to cut gun crime

By David Andrews

The present concern about high rates of illegal gun ownership and associated gun crime can be solved very simply in the same way that illegal whiskey distilling was stamped out in Scotland in the late 1700s, by offering huge, for the day, rewards for information leading to the discovery of illegal stills, whereas in Ireland it was merely made illegal where it persists to this day.

In the UK police could similarly offer a no questions asked hand-in fee of say £2000 pounds for any person who brings a gun into a police station. At the same time a reward could be offered of twice the hand-in fee ie £4000 for information leading to the prosecution of any person found in the possession or control of an illegal fire arm. And £4000 for each and every weapon.

One of the main purposes of holding such illegal weapons is to let others know that you have them, by behaviour and reputation spread by acolytes or fearful potential victims of tacit intimidation.

Thus a little thought will show that the illegal arms user and dealer will have little choice but to throw away, hand in, or not let anyone know they have such weapons, since any holder for the purposes of status or intimidate, will know that he is liable to be grassed up by multiple persons, who will calculate that sooner or later someone else will go to the police, and retribution is likely on all of the many people in the position of victim. May as well be the first to at least take the cash because retribution will be coming.

If the holder decides to keep the possession a secret then their main use – intimidation and status is denied. They will of course still be used for armed robbery but that is a very rare crime and what we are after is to cut street gun culture.

As soon as he tries to sell a weapon, more than a few times, he risks his customers or those who he has advertised his services to, ( the latter will always be more than the former) picking up a £4000 fee for his trouble.

It will not be the case that an industry will develop feeding guns to the police, since they will still retain all their normal investigative rights. Existing and new gun smuggling networks will be rendered extremely dangerous due to the bounty any party could obtain, and of course, whilst guns could be fed to the police by a series of low level associates, the police would simply have to home in on these peoples backgronds.

My response to Dave's idea

I think the weakness in the idea is the £2,000 paid out if a gun is handed in. It would mean that people would import / manufacture guns for £500, then sell them on to the police with a £1,500 guaranteed profit. The country would soon be awash with guns, and the police would be too poor to do anything about it!

By all means have a £4,000 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of a criminal, but please drop the idea of the police paying out cash for illegal guns.


  1. It's definitely an idea worth considering, though I wonder whether your caveat about incentivising the firearms market could be avoided by making this a one-off, week-long exercise rather than a permanent scheme. In that way there simply wouldn't be time to organise the import or manufacture of further weapons for profit. Personally I would tweak the rewards to make it more tempting to provide intelligence than simply hand over the gun with no contextual information about who owned it, their associates etc.

  2. My friend Bill writes:

    ...you [Tony] are bang on with the profit making scheme, thats exactly what would happen. but also i'm not sure of the point of it all. there are far far more problems with knives than guns, perhaps those should be targeted (excuse the pun, fully intended). in fact thinking outside of the box tackling guns, or knives for that matter, is only addressing the symptoms. i would wager that if all the attention (and money) paid to guns (and knives) was put into things for kids to do ie scouts/youth clubs/ etc, there would be a lot less of these sorts of problems, and probably less binge drinking to boot!

    guns (etc) are just an easy target for reactive politicians to look like they are doing something. //end rant

  3. Agree that other things need to be done too - scouts, football etc, but need to get rid of guns first.

    Tony is wrong to think that the police buying the guns would lead to people making and selling them to the police.

    Anyone making a gun, which is hard to do in secret, can't be out robbing old ladies.

    People trading guns, by definition are not in secret, and anyone in the chain knows that they can get more cash by grassing the sellers or dealers up than taking it to the police.

  4. Why do the guns need to be removed first? To my mind that's like baling out a sinking boat rather than patching the leak.