Thursday, December 20, 2012
How can we prevent gun crime in the UK?
I have sent this to my MP.
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Psychological profiling for Gun Licence owners
While we in Britain have a low incidence of gun crime due to strict licensing laws, the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut should make us ask whether we can make ourselves even safer.
Mass murderers of the kind who acted in Newtown have been studied by forensic psychiatrists, and they have a well-recognised psychological profile called the “pseudocommando”. The term was coined by Dr Park Dietz in 1986, and the concept has endured since then. Traits include the typical male, loner, preoccupied with firearms, paranoid, bearing grudges, powerless, insignificant, a student of other mass killings, and capable of meticulous planning.
Now psychology may not be a precise science, but it certainly is capable of putting together a questionnaire. Salient questions can be gathered onto a couple of pages of A4, and gun licence holders and new applicants can be required to fill them in. In order to check against false entries, licence holders and applicants will have to gather a few - say 5 - friends and neighbours together to confirm their assessment of him. The process of gathering supportive backers will place a significant block in the way of potential mass murderer among the gun license applicants, since they tend to be loners.
Of course, potential killers could get illegal guns. But once the police know of their interest in getting guns, they could pay random house visits, with a sniffer dog who can tell us if there is any ammunition in the premises.
Libertarians might object that this is an invasion of liberty. It is a decision: should the police invade the liberty of potential mass murderers every so often, or would we rather put up with occasional periods of national upset because a number of innocent people have been slaughtered?
I would be very grateful if you would put this proposition to the Minister responsible.
With best wishes for a peaceful Christmas