2008-02-20 : UK : Gun law and common sense

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2008-02-20 : UK : Gun law and common sense

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 11:09

20 February 2007 2:57 PM
Gun law and common sense
Read Peter Hitchens only in The Mail on Sunday


More rubbish is written about 'gun control' than about almost any other subject. Allegedly 'tough' gun and knife laws are the liberal substitute for the death penalty, the left's way of trying to stop criminals from killing.

Like most 'liberal' solutions, they don't work against their intended target, and they attack freedom. It helps a great deal to be liberal about this if you a) don't think about it and b) know no history at all. Until 1920, Britain's gun laws made Texas look effeminate. There was no effective restriction at all on owning a firearm. Yet there was virtually no gun crime. Now we have some of the most restrictive anti-gun laws in the world, and gun crime is a serious and growing problem. Interestingly, the laws came first, the problem afterwards, and the recent ban on handguns was a completely logic-free response to the Dunblane mass-murder which preceded it.

Here's a strange fact. If you read the Sherlock Holmes stories, you will notice just how frequently Holmes and Watson take guns out on various missions (Watson’s is usually his trusty old service revolver, retained from his brush with war in Afghanistan). On one occasion, Holmes amuses himself by picking out the Royal monogram 'VR' in bullet-pocks above the fireplace, a remarkable tribute to his shooting ability with a handgun. His skills may have been exceptional, but gun ownership was, at the time the stories were written, entirely legal and normal, and nobody thought it odd.

What is strange is that modern British readers of these stories never pause to wonder how and why things have changed so much. Well, if you do wonder, I must direct you once again to the relevant chapter of 'A Brief History of Crime' in which I was accused of arguing that we should all carry weapons about, as one female acquaintance of mine generally does in the State of Virginia, perfectly legally.

British leftist feminists, who warn constantly that all men are rapists, and endlessly demand harsher punishments and looser rules of evidence in rape prosecutions, really ought to be keen supporters of America's 'Second Amendment Sisters', who argue that women should all be armed and dangerous, and rapists, as a result, should be mostly dead, or too afraid to try it on. But somehow, they aren't. One liberal obsession clashes with another, yet again.

Actually, I don't want us to become a gun-carrying, gun-owning society at all. I have absolutely no desire to own a gun or have one in my house. They are even more dangerous (which is saying something) than motor cars, which I - likewise - don’t much like using because of the heavy responsibility of being in control of such powerfully lethal machinery. And any burglar who arrives at my house will be given a cup of tea (choice of Indian, China or herbal) and a biscuit, and asked to sign a release form stating that he has not been harmed, intimidated or upset in any way. I understand the liberal criminal law well enough to know that this is the only sensible approach for a British burglary victim, who doesn't want to be handcuffed and put in the cells.

I don't want my neighbours to own guns, either. It shouldn't be necessary in a properly law-governed country.

Our small, easily-policed and largely urban society is deeply unlike the USA, where many people live hours from the nearest police station and can expect no immediate help if they are in dire trouble. But I do think that the continued existence of a legal right for law-abiding subjects to own and use weapons (actually set out in the 1689 Bill of Rights) is important. I'll explain why in a moment.

And I also think that strict gun laws are wholly ineffective against their targets. The guns used in crime are hardly ever legally obtained. The people who use them almost invariably have criminal convictions, which would disqualify them from legal gun ownership anyway. So you can pass as many laws against gun ownership as you like. It will have precisely no effect on the level of gun crime. In which case, why do it?

Well, partly to keep the dim liberals happy, of course, which is important these days. But could there be another reason? If the state and the people broadly agree, about most matters, then the state can license the people to do such things as defend themselves, make citizen's arrests, thump burglars, even keep weapons. (Every Swiss home contains arms and ammunition, and the Swiss crime problem is minor, to put it mildly).

But if the state believes that criminals are to be pitied and treated, while the people believe that criminals need to be punished, then the state cannot trust the people any longer.

And the people, likewise, cannot trust the state, which is becoming - increasingly - a tyranny which watches, dockets, snoops and generally pries into our lives, and grants us smaller and smaller limits within which we may live if we wish to avoid being interfered with by its agencies.

The same 'experts' who have banned guns and knives (with no noticeable effect on their use by criminals, though the harassment of innocents for carrying pen-knives grows year by year) pursue individuals for hitting burglars too hard or, in a notable incident last week, a pensioner who had clouted one of a gang of youths who had pelted his home with snowballs for hours on end.

And they are wholly ineffectual in dealing with burglars on the rare occasions when they both catch them and manage to prosecute them.

Yet the one thing that will bring a rapid and powerful police response to a phone call is a claim that guns are being used by private citizens. And the one offence the courts will always punish severely is the one they call 'taking the law into your own hands'. Why? Because they are much more worried about their monopoly of force than they are about protecting us. Is that a good sign?

Actually, I object strongly to the expression 'taking the law into your own hands'. The law is ours and we made it for ourselves, to protect us and govern us, as a free people. Our freedom to defend ourselves against criminal violence is part of our general freedom to live our lives lawfully. We hire the police to help us enforce the law, not to tell us that we cannot do so. Sadly, the modern British law is not our law, but an elite law, based on ideas which most of us do not share. And the modern police are the elite's police, not ours, which is one of the reasons why they have vanished from the streets, where we want them to be. The disarming of the people, and the cancellation of all their rights to defend themselves, are bad signs.
What have YOU done for YOUR rights today?
GOSA
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