Tuesday, August 28, 2007

That Was the Week that Was

All but one of these stories will be familiar to almost anyone, after seven days of sickening headlines.


"The mother of 11-year-old Rhys Jones cradled her dying son in her arms after he was shot on his way home from football practice, a friend has said."


"Witnesses said a youth on a BMX bicycle, who had his face covered with a hood, rode up to the car park and fired three shots."

Source: BBC News

"Three people, including two teenagers, have been charged with murder after a man with learning difficulties was attacked by a gang.

Brent Martin, 23, died in hospital after being found injured in Town End Farm estate in Sunderland on Thursday."

Source: BBC News

Even the Village, a quiet, affluent London suburb was not immune. On Friday night a man was beaten to unconsciousness at one of the local pubs in an assault that involved broken glass wounds and repeated striking of the victim's head with a heavy bar stool.

The police are reported to be treating the incident as attempted murder.

Source: Personal Account

"A teenager has appeared in court charged with killing a man who died following a street attack on Tyneside. Thomas Fellows, 51, suffered fatal head injuries in the incident in Wallsend, early on Saturday."


"Jeffrey Gosling, 18, of Hazelwood Terrace, Wallsend was initially charged with assault, but was re-arrested and charged with manslaughter[sic]."

Source: BBC News

"Three men are appearing in court today charged with murdering a man just hours after his 21st birthday.

David Haynes was knifed outside a kebab shop in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, in the early hours of Sunday."


"Two, aged 26 and 24, come from Wellingborough - the third, a 22-year-old, is from Northampton."

Source: Sky News

"Five male youths have been arrested after the sudden death of a 95-year-old man in Wiltshire.

Three of the youths being questioned are aged 17, and the other two are aged 15."

Source: BBC News

"Police are investigating two shootings, one involving a 14-year-old boy, at the Notting Hill Carnival.

The youngster was injured on Monday night, at the junction of Portnall Road and Harrow Road in Kensal Town.

Earlier, a 17-year-old was taken to hospital with a shoulder wound after shots were fired. A man in his 20s was injured in a stabbing."

Source: BBC News

It doesn't make for very pretty reading. At the moment we are hearing very little from the government other than the usual messages of regret well intended as they may be, and some complacent references to gun-crime statistics, aided and abetted by a piece of weak analysis by the BBC as highlighted by the Croydonian and Dizzy Thinks.

I'm sure that we will soon be faced with an eye catching initiative or two, the need to be seen to be doing something becoming almost overwhelming. The roots of the problem are very complex, and not easily curable with the type of headline grabbing initiatives that the government tends to prefer. I do expect them though to stay true to type. You can't tax illegal activities, pretty much halving their preferred options, so expect something to be banned.

I might have some sympathy with further restrictions on replica weapons, though if they do act in this regard I suspect it will be typically clumsy and authoritarian NuLab fare. I really can't believe that it's beyond the wit of man to produce a replica or deactivated weapon that is to all intents and purposes impossible to convert into a functional firearm, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a blanket ban would be more typical NuLab fare, impacting most greatly on people pursuing a perfectly legal hobby.

Another option may be an airgun ban, especially as it would relieve a pressure point with relations with the Scottish Parliament. A Very British Dude has just written a fine post highlighting the inanity of most of NuLab's firearm legislation, but even when you consider his thoroughly sensible arguments and the fact that none of the incidents of the last week or so have involved airguns, the desire of the government to be seen to be taking decisive action, even if it is wholly pointless action, should not be underestimated.

The real problems are much harder to address, and even the mother of Rhys Jones, to whom, along with the family and friends of all of the victims of the last week or so all our sympathy must go, seemed to acknowledge this fact when she questioned the role of the parents of those who may be involved in her son's death.

There are no easy solutions out there, certainly no quick 'tax it or ban it' ones. There are deeper issues in sections of society that need to be examined, and tackled with a longer term perspective. There are attitudes that have become ingrained in parts of the public's psyche that need to be challenged, and even more so those in the minds of policy makers whose presumptions and theories seem so patently to be failing.

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