Guns, Kids and the Arms Trade

Once again we hear of kids being massacred at a school by a man with a gun. Most people I know who live in Britain rather than America are horrified and puzzled by the American obsession with gun ownership. The statistics clearly point to drastically reduced gun related deaths when there is strong gun ownership control. But strong government control is anathema to many citizens in the ‘land of the free”.

Viewed the situation from the outside, I and many others, can be judgemental of our American cousins. We are actually in danger of being hypocritical, bearing in mind how much money Britain makes by selling weapons around the world.

British arms sales to repressive regimes

According to the Guardian newspaper, British arms sales to repressive regimes soared to 5 billion pounds in just 4 months after the last election. This huge rise is largely due to sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, but many other countries with controversial human rights records – including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Venezuela and China – have also been major buyers.

According to the Independent newspaper, the UK Government approved arms sales to 20 countries on its own list of human rights abusers.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade says that of the 49 countries that are classed as “not free” by Freedom House, the independent organisation that promotes democracy, 36 have bought British-made weapons under the current government.

Jobs and Economics

According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade the arms export trade employs 55,000 people, but this is less than 0.2% of the UK workforce and less than 2% of manufacturing jobs. But the threat to jobs is put forward as a strong argument in favour of maintaining this trade.

  • Are we campaigning for more unemployment if this trade is reduced?
  • Are we prepared to pay the economic cost.
  • Is the manufacture and export of weapons more to do with national pride than economics?
  • How many women, men and children are killed as a result of our supplying weapons?
  • Will future generations liken the abolition of the arms trade to the abolition of the slave trade?

Who is to blame?

It is no use just blaming politicians.  In a democracy politicians respond to public pressure and will only take action when they feel that a majority will support them. It is my contention that selling arms around the world corrupts everyone one of us, including you and me. We all are culpable along with repressive regimes that use our weapons to kill their neighbours, or their own citizens, unless we are prepared to speak out against this evil trade in human misery and suffering.

Loving our enemies

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45 NIV)

Jesus put his own words into action when he allowed cruel men to nail him to that cross, saying “Father, forgive them”. But that action was the greatest expression of love that the world has ever seen.

Following Jesus today requires drastic changes in our actions and in our attitudes. If someone wants to kill me, or my family, my first thought could be for defence and being prepared to kill to prevent attack. If our country, or our country’s way of life, is threatened we think we need weapons to protect our liberty. But Jesus shows us a better way. It is not an easy thing to make Jesus’ words the basis of international relationships. But the only real hope for ‘World Peace‘ is the way of Jesus.


Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

9 thoughts on “Guns, Kids and the Arms Trade”

  1. The historical reason that Americans are obsessed with gun ownership is because of the Constitutional amendment on the right to bear arms which was to prevent British soldiers from abusing political authority in the colonies. British soldiers were allowed to bear arms. Colonists were not.

    The American attitude against strong government control of gun ownership is directly related to this abuse. Normally it is just for self-defense. Unfortunately guns are so much more dangerous these days.

    Thank you for this article which makes some very valid points. And for you sensitivity. I hope we all have the courage to contribute to a safer and more peaceful world.


  2. Dear George,
    I just read your column dated the 30 January, when you described having a stroke. I am new to your site and was unaware of your health when I made comments on your site today. I can imagine how you felt when you had the stroke, as I had a heart attack in 1989 and was in hospital eight times with heart problems. However the heart attack changed my life completely for the better, due to the euphoric feeling I had when I thought I was dying. I could not explain the feeling or subsequent events that followed. I had not attended church for many years or followed religion, but after that event I returned to religion and attended church for 10 years until I left due to my stance on the Just War theory. I have recently had another serious health problem, which only strengthens my faith in Jesus. More good came out of my heart attack than bad. If I get down something always helps me, When I thought I was going to die with the heart attack, an overpowering feeling of peace and love enveloped me and all fear disappeared. It turned me into a pacifist and a believer in God, which made me a better person. Love and compassion is all we need in this world. I like your site and share most of your views, we need more people like you. I wish you well and I know you are blessed by the stance you take. Keep up the good work.

    Kind regards


  3. Thank you George for your reply. I apologise and retract my statement that you delete controversial comments. I now know I was wrong about that. I like your site and agree with your stance and the way you view life.

    Kind regards

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear AE. I don’t delete comments which disagree with me. I only delete abusive comments. Your comment was on another post and I have areas it and agreed with most of it. Please feel free to comment as much as you like.


  5. I submitted a comment which was not shown. I can only assume that to criticise religious leaders as I did, is not permitted. I should have known better


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