By Alan Gottlieb

When the British newspaper the Telegraph asked readers which of six suggested measures they would like to see introduced in the House of Commons, the response was surprisingly tilted toward one significant proposal.

Of the six suggestions, which included setting a flat tax and placing a term limit on the office of prime minister, what drew more than 86 percent of reader support was a proposal to repeal the handgun ban of 1997. This is an unscientific poll, but the results should signal to U.S. gun prohibitionists that their habitual use of the United Kingdom as an example of domestic tranquility where guns are concerned just took a direct hit in the credibility department.

At last check, more than 20,400 people had responded to the poll. With support for ending the handgun ban at 86.4 percent, the next highest vote-getter is a suggested measure on the "greening of public spaces," followed by a proposal to ban spitting. The flat tax comes in fourth with a scant 6.4 percent of the votes, and limiting the prime minister's terms mustered 2 percent.

Parliament adopted the handgun ban following the tragic 1997 Dunblane massacre of schoolchildren, an incident not unlike our own Sandy Hook tragedy. Law-abiding British citizens were forced to surrender their handguns as some sort of panacea, but violent crime in the United Kingdom has actually gone up, and self-defense with a firearm has gotten people in considerable trouble.

There could be a strong connection between the Telegraph reader response and the recent brutal murder of a British soldier in broad daylight by a couple of knife-wielding Islamic extremists. That incident reminded people that one must be able to fight back. Millions of law-abiding Americans understand that principle and have obtained concealed-carry licenses and permits.

The poll results also suggest that the good citizens of that island nation have realized that banning gun ownership by lawful people does nothing to discourage criminals or mentally ill people from committing heinous crimes. In this country, we have been able to derail efforts to ban entire classes of firearms, realizing that the unilateral disarmament of good people only makes bad ones bolder.

The right of self-defense is the oldest human right, and the British experiment with public disarmament failed as miserably as our own gun bans in Chicago and Washington, D.C. The 10-year Clinton ban on so-called assault weapons was just as ineffective against crime.

Again, the Telegraph poll results are not scientific, but they should be a red flag to Parliament that many of its constituents have realized the gun ban was a terrible mistake. And they are a reminder to people on this side of Atlantic that Congress must never do something similar.

Alan Gottlieb is chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.