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Owen Guns Bulletin Nov 08 No 4

Blog November 1, 2008

Welcome to the Fourth Edition of the Owen Guns Bulletin.


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What Gun Controllers Don’t Want You to Know

Written by Howard Nemerov

I used to support gun control, meaning civilian disarmament. There was no reason, the rationale went, for a private citizen to own a gun. The only ones who wanted guns had small genitalia, were paranoid crazies, and criminals.

All this was assumed, without any empirical or statistical research to base it upon. Due to the influence of one of my clients who is a person of great honor, I began to research the issue of gun control on my own. Having been a college boy who loved library research, I knew how to ferret out fact from fiction. It was interesting to find that the claims of the NRA, John Lott, et al., were easy to verify from neutral or even slightly pro-gun control sources. More ominously, I found that the gun control groups consistently lied or twisted minor factoids taken out of context in their articles. This begged the question: if they are lying to advance their agenda, can we really trust the utopian outcome they promote as true? The Utopian Thesis of Gun Control The philosophy behind gun control is that by limiting access to guns, the public is made a safer place. This is a noble undertaking, and all persons of conscience should support this.

Must be in the US. Briish citizens have to just grin and use the stiff upper lip.

Must be in the US. British citizens have to just grin and use the stiff upper lip.

If it were proven beyond a reasonable doubt that disarming the law-abiding public would enhance public safety, save children’s lives, and enhance or preserve our civil rights, I would be in favor of gun control. Of course, there is a ”competing” hypothesis: placing firearms into the hands of law-abiding citizens accomplishes the same goals with fewer unpleasant side-effects. These hypotheses were being tested during my research. A simple litmus test could be set up; one can examine actual crime rates and trends in countries similar to our culture that have recently disarmed the public, and see what resulted. The United Kingdom is an English speaking democracy with a bicameral legislature, similar enough for our litmus test. The UK instituted a massive gun ban in 1997, finally banning all handguns. While a tool of choice for criminals, because of its ease of concealment, this attribute also makes it a valuable personal protection tool for a law-abiding citizen. If the gun control thesis is the correct one, then it should follow that by taking out an element that allegedly incites criminal behavior, in this case guns, crime rates should drop. So let’s take a look at the statistical record to find out.

Facts, Not Rhetoric

What always made me reluctant to address the issue of gun control was all the hyperbole surrounding it from both sides of the issue. Therefore, it was imperative to be able to locate similar statistics from multiple sources, to insure factual validity. First, it is important to establish a pre-ban baseline and then compare it to similar research after the ban to determine crime trends. For that, we will reference the International Crime Victimization Surveys of 1992 and 2000. In general, the research shows that violent crime rates were lower in the UK than the United States in 1992.

(Rated in percent of those interviewed responding ”yes” to being victimized.)

Burglary with entry: UK – 2.5% U.S. – 3.5%
Robbery: UK – .9% U.S. – 1.7%
Sexual assault of women: UK – .3% U.S. – 1.5%
Assault with force: UK – 1.1% U.S. – 2.2%
In the 2000 survey the researchers combined the three violent crimes of robbery, rape, and assault into one category entitled ”Selected Contact Crime.”
Here is what they report (post-ban for UK.)
Burglary with entry: UK – 2.8% U.S. – 1.8%
Selected contact crime: UK – 3.6% U.S. – 1.9%
These two reports were done with essentially the same criteria and methods, and they clearly show that while selected violent crime rates rose 100% in the UK, they fell 65 % in the U.S. During this time, Britain outlawed private ownership of firearms, while over 70 million additional civilian firearms were sold in the U.S. At the very least, a reasonable person is forced to conclude that availability of firearms to the general public is not a contributing factor to any increase in crime. These trends are confirmed by Britain’s own Home Office.

In the period of 1997 through 2001, homicide rose 19 % in the UK while it fell 12 % in the USA.

Violent crime incidents rose 26% in the UK while falling 12% in the USA.
Robbery rates rose 92% in the UK and fell 15% in the USA.

My, what big teeth you politicans have.

My, what big teeth you politicians have.

“Trust Us, We’re Your Government ”

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” – Thomas Jefferson
”Congress by the power of taxation, by that of raising an army, and by their control over the militia, have the sword in one hand and the purse in the other. Shall we be safe without either? Let him candidly tell me, where and when did freedom exist, when the sword and purse were given up from the people?” – Patrick Henry .
This same British Home Office report attempts to put a happy face on the UK crime trend by proclaiming on page one that during the period of 2002-2003 crime has dropped, attempting to devalue the entire body of the report to the reader. Such hyperbole is also expressed in another British Home Office report entitled ”Crime in England and Wales 2002/2003,” which consists of two parts. The first section relies on Britain’s new Crime Survey, a governmental attempt to show crime reduction by selecting a small group of subjects to question. The Crime Survey findings contrast sharply with the second section of actual compiled police statistics that show sharp rises in nearly all crime categories. Here are some crime trends collected from UK police crime data for the period of 1995 to 2003.
Homicide rose 41%.
Attempted murder rose 29%.
Total Violent Crime rose 219%.
For those who believe that gun control benefits women and children, who are generally smaller and less physically capable of protecting themselves, it is interesting to note that during this time period female rape increased 129%, child abduction rose 143%, and cruelty to or neglect of children increased 79%. In his book ”More Guns, Less Crime,” John Lott discusses how when criminals know more citizens are armed they switch from crimes where they come into direct contact with their victims to crimes where there is no contact. So instead of robbery, where they confront the intended victim, they wait until people leave home and commit burglary. In an email interview, Professor Lott said: ”They do this in order to avoid victims who are now better able to defend themselves.” ”More Guns, Less Crime” showed how such a crime trend is indeed in effect in Right-to-Carry states, where violent (confrontational) crime is dropping faster than property (non-confrontational) crime. The reason I bring this up now is because this substitution effect is borne out in the UK, where total property crime dropped 1% from 1995 to 2003. As victims are more available due to the loss of self-defense capabilities, criminals see no need to spend the extra effort to plan burglary in order to avoid their victims; it is far easier to confront them and wave a gun in their face, demanding loot and sex.

In Manchester UK, the Milkman is beaten half to death for the milk money. Out numbred and the wrong colour. Thats the milk of course

In Manchester UK, the Milkman is beaten half to death for the milk money. Out numbered and the wrong colour. That's the milk of course.

Some may still want to deny the truth, saying ”but the population has increased, so even if crime increases, there still is no increase in crime rates.” On the surface, this is a valid argument, but the same report shows that violent crime rates (per 100,000 population) increased 216% from 1995 to 2003, while property offenses dropped 2%.

In her book ”Guns and Violence,” Joyce Lee Malcolm discusses the same substitution effect was active historically as well. In the first part of the book, she does an overview of the earlier eras in Britain and concludes: ”…this era in which firearms first came into common use in everyday life as well as for the citizen militia, the century in which an Englishman’s right to have ‘arms for his defence’ was proclaimed, also witnessed a sharp decline in violent homicide.” In an e-mail interview, I asked Professor Malcolm about the discrepancy between the British Home Office Crime Survey results and the police statistics included in the same report from 2003.

Question: In your book you mention in the introduction that there are some irregularities in how the police report crime. Does this in fact make the Crime Survey a more accurate indicator of crime trends in the UK? Professor Malcolm: ”The differences between the UK crime victimization studies and police statistics are indeed confusing and almost always at odds. Both come from government and are official. For many years the English police seemed to record only about 1/3 of the crimes reported to them, making the victimization studies more accurate. They also purposely underestimated a crime like burglary, for example, by counting several offences by the same individual as one burglary. The police reporting was so unabashedly political that the victimization studies were undertaken.”
Question: This brings up two concerns: first, it seems that one of the governmental branches, either the Home Office or the police, is in effect lying. Second, how can people trust the government when they can’t even come out with a consistent answer on crime rates or even what constitutes a crime?
Professor Malcolm: ”The government now seems to be insisting that the police actually record a higher level of the crimes reported to them, but don’t seem willing to explain what proportion or how it is being done. As a result, as crime rates go up dramatically in police statistics, especially for violent crime, the government keeps saying they are not really going up, it is just that the police are using a different method of recording crime. But for some crime, such as murder, the police could not easily have been under-reporting in the past, although they do track murders to pull them from the totals if the final judgement is anything less than a court finding of murder. At this point the government has used the ”new method of calculating crime” excuse so repeatedly and without explanation that I am inclined not to trust their assurances that crime is going down or remaining steady. Murder, for instance, is at the highest level since statistics were kept.”
Question: Why is the British Crime Survey is at odds with the International Crime Victimization Survey of 2002 and your own article at Reason.com , which indicate that the UK is indeed increasingly more crime-ridden in many categories than the U.S.?
Professor Malcolm: ”I think the international crime victimization study released in 2002 is more reliable and offers a comparison of how England and Wales are doing compared to other industrial countries. Sadly, England has many times the violent crime of most European countries. But their methods of fighting crime by disarming and prosecuting victims is so counter-productive that the results do not surprise me. Unfortunately it is in the government’s interest to demonstrate that its crime-fighting initiative is successful, which makes its assertions doubtful.” The key point to remember is that murder is a statistic that is hard to fudge, and therefore a reliable indicator of crime trends. The police actually under-report murder rates, because if the court reduces the sentence, the police subtract that case from murder totals. Even so, murder has risen dramatically since the gun ban went into effect.

Only in the Movie's does someone rebel against the Newspeak propaganda.

Only in the Movies does someone rebel against the Newspeak propaganda.

Referring back to the Founders’ quotes leading this section, pray tell me this: how are the people of the United Kingdom going to force a redressing of grievances upon their government? They have surrendered their arms and their purse, and therefore have no protection against a government acting without restraint, nor do they have the means to show their government any spirit of resistance to flawed and deadly policy. Once again, the age-old lessons are being taught on yet another stage: absolute power corrupts absolutely; and if you surrender your personal responsibility to a government which promises to take care of you, they will only take care of themselves.


The English experience proves that guns and violence have no corresponding relationship that justifies gun control. Do we want to go down the same road as the UK when the evidence is so alarming? When the consequences could be so deadly? How will we force our government to return power to the people once it has taken it? Perhaps gun control will go away when we have the ”Million Armed Mom March in Washington, D.C.” Women will drive this issue when they ask the politicians, ”Tell me exactly how you expect me to defend my children against violent predators? If gun control is so wonderful, how come more women are being raped and children being abused in England since guns were banned? Do you plan to sacrifice our lives to pander to your moneyed sponsor/constituents? Or do you just want power so much that you don’t care who suffers?”
George Santayana coined the phrase: ”Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” To which I humbly wish to add: Those who have tasted power and developed an addiction to it, studied of history, intend to repeat it.

Gun History

Guns and Steel

Part One


Sir Joseph Whitworth, BART.,

C.E., F.R.S., LL.D., D.C.L.


It is probable that few are aware of the manner in which I approached the subject of rifling guns, or know that the Whitworth rifle was produced as the result of many months of experimental research in the rifle gallery, five hundred yards long, erected in my grounds at Manchester. I cannot mention this fact without saying how much personal interest the then Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hardinge, took in the experiments, every stage of which he communicated to the Prince Consort.

The Rifle Range was at the rear of the building, which is now part of Manchester University.

His 52 acre property, 'The Firs'. The Rifle Range was at the rear of the building, which is now part of the Manchester University.

At that time I demonstrated every conclusion by the most carefully conducted trials, and I proved that the Enfield service rifle of that day was wrong in every particular. The diameter of the bullet was too large for the size of the gun, the bullet itself was too short, and the twist of rifling was not one-third of what it should have been. Accordingly, in the year 1857, the public trials of my rifle against the Enfield rifle, made by the direction of Lord Panmure, established the superiority of my weapon, as well as the soundness of the conclusions at which I had arrived.

In 1859 a Committee of officers reported that the bore of my muzzle-loading rifle was too small for use as a military weapon.

In 1869 another Committee recommended that the bore of the service breech-loading rifle should be exactly that rejected ten years previously.

IN the year 1854, when Lord Hardinge was endeavouring to obtain the best possible rifle with which to arm the British troops, he requested me to aid him by investigating the mechanical principles applicable in the construction of an efficient weapon. I willingly agreed to do so, subject, however, to the condition that I should have a suitable gallery, protected from changes in the wind and from fluctuations in the atmosphere, wherein to carry on the experiments which were necessary for enabling me to arrive at any sound conclusion.

It was absolutely essential to track the path of a rifle bullet throughout its entire course, to determine whether its point preserved a true forward direction, and to record its trajectory. This could be done most readily in a closed gallery provided with screens of very light tissue paper.

Accordingly a gallery, 500 yards in length, was erected in my grounds at Rusholme, in the year 1855. Its height was 20 feet and width 16 feet; it was slated, and had openings on the south side only for the admission of light and for getting rid of the smoke.

The first result of the work done in this gallery was the construction of my small-bore rifle.

First Comparative Trials
Of The Whitworth And Enfield Rifles

In the year 1855 I commenced a series of experiments in the new rifle gallery, and was at that time requested to adhere to the service charge of powder, viz., 70 grains, as well as to the service weight of bullet, viz., 530 grains, but I was unrestricted in every other particular.

The barrel of the Enfield rifle, as then used in the service, was 39 inches in length, its bore being .577 of an inch in diameter. The rifling was effected by three spiral grooves, making 1 turn in 78 inches, and the bullet rotated half a turn during its passage along the barrel. The length of the bullet was 1.81 diameters of the bore.

The Enfield Rifle Model 1853, a agricultural tool that goes bang and holds the British Army's favorite weapon the bayonet.
The Enfield Rifle Model 1853, a agricultural tool that goes bang and holds the British Army’s favourite weapon the bayonet.

The bullet was cylindro-conoidal; it was wrapped in paper, and was made of such a size as to pass easily down the barrel, and had a conical wood plug in its hollow base. At the instant of firing, the explosive force of the powder caused the bullet to become expanded or upset, and thus moulded it to fit the grooves in the bore. It was essential that the lead should be very pure and soft in order to allow of its being properly expanded into the grooves.

The bullet is shown in the diagram.

The cross section of the barrel is given at D, the circular portions, which do no work in rotating the bullet, are called land’s, and the grooves run in a screw thread of uniform pitch between the lands.

The Whitworth Rifle a precision instument made by the man who invented the micrometer

The Whitworth Rifle a precision instrument made by the man who invented the micrometer

The barrel of the Whitworth rifle is 39 inches in length, the interior is hexagonal in section, and, instead of consisting partly of non-effective lands and partly of grooves, has rifling surfaces which are wholly effective. The rifling turn is much quicker than that of the Enfield rifle, being l turn in 20 inches, and the angular corners of the hexagon are rounded in the manner shown. The maximum diameter of the bore is .490 of an inch, and the minimum diameter is .451 of an inch.

The bullet may be either hexagonal or cylindrical; in the latter case, it will expand and be driven into the recesses of the hexagon, and will adapt itself to the curves of the spiral rifling; in the former case the inclined sides of the hexagon offer no direct resistance to this expansion, which is easily effected. The length of the bullet is 3 diameters of the bore.

With all expanding bullets, a quick burning powder must be employed. The expansion depends on the sudden action of the powder upon a bullet possessing inertia, it therefore fails with a slow burning powder.

If there be a mechanical fit between the bullet and the bore of a muzzle-loading rifle, this expansion is no longer necessary, and the bullet may then be made of alloys of tin and lead of any degree of hardness, or a hardened steel bullet may be used. It is perfectly easy to form a mechanically-fitting bullet adapted to the hexagonal rifling, on account of the simplicity of the form, but quite impracticable to obtain an accurate fit between the bullet and the bore of the rifle where any system of grooves is adopted.

The expansion principle may be combined with an easy mechanical fit, so that a projectile made of metal harder than lead, such as an alloy of lead and tin, may be used, and the bullet will then expand sufficiently to fill the bore, giving a penetration more than double that of lead.

In my earlier experiments I tried the effect of lengthening the bullet of the Enfield rifle, and I showed, by means of a piece of tissue paper placed three yards from the gun, that an increase of only a quarter of an inch in length caused the bullet to strike obliquely. This fact was clearly ascertained by the mark left upon the paper. I then made a barrel of the same bore with a twist of 1 turn in 30 inches, instead of 1 turn in 78 inches, and I kept the weight of the lengthened bullet at 530 grains by making a portion of the interior hollow. The result was that with the same charge the bullet hit the target at the same height.

Having thus proved that there was no loss of range on account of the increased rotation of the bullet, and that the trajectory was as good as before, I made another barrel, reducing the minimum diameter to .5 inch, and lengthening the projectile, and finally I reduced the bore to .45 inch.

In order to satisfy myself as to the effect of increased twist in the rifling I tried barrels with 1 turn in 20 inches, 1 turn in 10 inches, 1 turn in 5 inches and lastly with 1 turn in 1 inch. I fired from these barrels mechanically fitting bullets of lead and tin, and with the barrel rifled to 1 turn in 1 inch (using 35 grains of powder) I penetrated through 7 inches of elm-tree planks.

Whitworth calls the Hexaganal .45 calibre 'Smallbore", for its time it was.
Whitworth calls the Hexagonal .45 calibre ‘Smallbore’, for its time it was.

In this way I exhausted the subject, and arrived at the result that the best twist for a rifled musket bullet would be 1 turn in 20 inches, the minimum diameter of the barrel being .45 inches.

This construction gave the best shooting with the charge of powder and weight of bullet to which I was limited.

If the ordinary strength of a man was greater than it is, the Enfield bore would be right but it would be necessary to increase the length of bullet and the twist of rifling, the rifle itself being also made heavier in proportion.

I experienced great opposition to the change of rifle turn from 1 turn in 78 inches to 1 turn in 20 inches, or I should have made the twist somewhat more rapid in order to fire a steel bullet when necessary for penetration. It should be understood that the amount of rotation must be increased when the specific gravity of the bullet is made less, otherwise the projectile will fall over in its flight, – that is to say, an iron projectile requires more rotation than one made of lead.

The same principles apply in determining the rotation for the heaviest guns. A long projectile turns over unless it has sufficient rotation, and the twist for field guns should not be less than 1 turn in 15 diameters. The gun will then fire projectiles 6 diameters in length.

I have always contended that the primary element of success in long range shooting, is length of bullet, and generally that great range, with a low trajectory, accuracy and penetration are obtained by employing a long bullet, high rotation, and a large powder charge.

Whitworth Rifle front sight, Whitworth was big into micrometer adjustments.
Whitworth Rifle front sight, Whitworth was big into micrometer adjustments.

The superiority of the Whitworth, as compared with the Enfield rifle, was first proved in a series of trials made at Hythe, in the year 1857, under the direction of Lord Panmure, then Minister of War.

These trials led to no satisfactory conclusion, and after a lapse of eighteen months a Committee of Officers reported to the Government in 1859 that the bore of my rifle was to small for use as a military weapon.

Compare with this the report of another Committee of Officers made in 1862, “that the makers of every small-bore rifle, having any pretensions to special accuracy, have copied to the letter the three main elements of success adopted by Mr. Whitworth, viz., diameter of bore, degree of spiral, and large proportion of rifling surface.”

In 1869 a Special Committee reported to the War Office that the calibre of a breech-loading rifle, should be .45 inches, as appearing to be the most suitable for a military arm. This conclusion is directly contrary to that arrived at in 1859, but is the exact bore which I recommended in 1857.

The mechanical question is the same whether we deal with a rifled musket or the heaviest gun. I have from the commencement advocated one uniform system, the value of which I have established by direct experiment.

As regards heavy artillery, it will probably require some long interval before the professional advisers will be enabled to see that sound ductile steel is the best material for a gun, that the bore for a given weight of gun should be made smaller than that used in the service, that the projectile should be lengthened, that its rotation should be increased, and that the stud system should be abolished.

In this direction they have made one step. They have taken the weight I proposed for a gun of 12 inches bore, and have increased the weight of the service 12 inch gun from 25 to 35 tons. In all other respects the Woolwich system is in direct opposition to my own. Following past precedent it must be expected that when the truths I have endeavoured to press upon official attention are fully understood, and action is taken upon them, my part in first developing them will probably be forgotten. Continued in next Bulletin


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