How the British lost their right to Self Defense
Written By: Stephen Challis
In 1997 the hastily and ill-conceived legislation that banned the possession of center fire and rim fire .22 handguns in the United Kingdom became the law of the land.
As a British Police Officer from 1974 to 1995 I observed the way the British Government finally achieved the total ban they had so long sought.
But how did they achieve it, and more importantly can we learn from England’s misfortune. To answer these questions we must go back to a time that common sense ruled in England, before the dark times, before the Empire (with apologies to George Lucas.
England has never had a bill of rights, or a Constitution. As a Monarchy, the United Kingdom is ruled by its Parliament, the House of Commons, and the House of Lords. These two legislative bodies can be roughly equated to the US Congress. However there are some subtle differences. In the UK, once a law is passed by both houses then it goes to the desk of the Monarch, who signs it in a ceremony known as the Royal Assent. Unlike the US President however, the Queen has no power any more to block or veto legislation. However, as in the US for the past 50 years, the British Parliament has been dominated by two political parties, the Labor Party and the Conservative party. Both can be said to have their ideological counterparts in the US. Having established the legislative process let us look at the history of gun control in the UK.
It may be of surprise to us in the USA, that in the past the laws of England always required the people to be armed, and not only armed, but to be “expert in arms.”
English scholar, Granville Sharpe, who helped bring about the abolition of slavery in England and supported American independence, wrote in 1782 that, “No Englishman can be truly loyal who opposes the principles of English law whereby the people are required to have arms of defense and peace, for mutual as well as private defense.”
In 1785, William Blizard, Chief Legal Advisor to London’s mayor and city council, stated, “The right of his majesty’s Protestant subjects, to have arms for their own defense, and to use them for lawful purposes, is most clear and undeniable.”
It seems to have been considered by the ancient laws of that kingdom, not only as a right, but as a duty.
Unfortunately for the English people, they have been persuaded by their own far-left government and insidious anti-gun activists, to allow the right of self-defense to be totally trashed. Today, not only do the British not have the right to keep and bear arms for self-preservation and defense, they are banned from even owning target shooting handguns, such as those used by competitors in the Olympic games. As a direct result, they live in a crime-ridden society that grows worse with each passing day.
The 2000 International Crime Victims Survey, published by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, produced a highly respected and accurate measurement of the percentage of people, by nation, who are victims of violent crimes. It ranked England far ahead of the United States (which ranked 8th), and second only to Australia, where English-style anti-gun laws are also in effect, as the most violent nation. A recently disarmed England now has twice as much violent crime per capita as the United States.
Commenting on the early legal requirement that every American male and every American household be armed, attorney Don B. Kates said that citizens “were not simply allowed to keep their own arms, but affirmatively required to do so.”
So, what caused England to go on to enact such Draconian legislation as exists there today? Despite the overwhelming evidence that such laws contribute to, and facilitate violence, it probably started with the 1937 Firearms Act, which imposed age restrictions on anyone purchasing firearms, and other controls, excepting shotguns. In the same year, the Home Secretary (Attorney General) instructed that self-defense was no longer a suitable reason for applying for a firearm certificate, and directed police to refuse such applications on the grounds that, “firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection, and may be a source of danger.”
Although this instruction should have led to outrage with the clouds of war gathering over Europe, the British had other things on their mind, and the lawmakers moved a step closer to total disarmament.
(Does the political phrase, “Never let a good crisis go to waste” come to mind here?) However, contrary to general belief, the United Kingdom does not have a total handgun Ban. Black powder and muzzle loaders are permitted, but under very tight restrictions.
The six counties that make up the province of Northern Ireland retained a right to keep their arms under the Firearms Certificate procedure when the 1997 ban came into effect.
The official reason is unclear, but there is still a high security risk in Northern Ireland, which has been involved in their own war on terror. Sectarian murders and shootings have not ended with the much heralded one- sided peace agreement. The IRA terror group has not disbanded nor changed their stated aims of a United Ireland, regardless of the wishes of the province who have constantly voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. It is widely believed that the stockpile of weapons held by them are fully available and have been updated.
The law enforcement personnel, Judiciary, and others involved in the fight against the IRA before the peace agreement, along with former military personnel, are still seen as legitimate targets to the terrorists who have succeeded in negotiating the release of all convicted IRA members from Northern Ireland jails.
It seems therefore as though the British Government believes that all men are not created equal and that some deserve to be allowed to defend themselves, as long as the right only applies to them. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his successor, as well as the Mayor of Chicago, would whole heartedly agree.
The total ban on all modern handguns in 1988, following the Dunblane massacre in Scotland, (An event eerily similar to that at Sandy Hook in 2013) was, if you believed the British Government, going to herald in a safer society. Well, in the years since, what has actually happened?
Statistics, put out by the Government, The Gun Control Network and other sources were completely at odds with each other, both in the UK and elsewhere. So, to put things into perspective let us concentrate on gun violence, which is the use of firearms by criminals.
A Home Office study published in 2007 reported that gun crime in England & Wales remained a relatively rare event. Firearms (including air guns) were used in 21,521 recorded crimes. It said that injury caused during a firearm offence was rare, with fewer than 3% resulting in a serious or fatal injury.
The number of homicides per year committed with firearms had remained between a range of 49 and 97 in the eight years prior to 2006.
There were two fatal shootings of police officers in England and Wales in this period, and 107 non-fatal shootings, an average of 9.7 per year over the same period.
Comparisons between the U.S.A. and the UK, of course have to take into account the population and size of each country. Most statisticians (Gun Control Network excepted) use the ratio of 1 to 100,000 per population, so let us begin there.
In 2005-6 the police in England and Wales reported fifty gun homicides, a rate of 0.1 illegal gun deaths per 100,000 of population. Only 6.6% of homicides involved the use of a firearm. By way of international comparison, in 2004, the police in the United States reported 9,326 gun homicides.
The homicide rate in England and Wales at the end of the 1990s was below the EU average, but the rates in Northern Ireland and Scotland were above the EU average.
While the number of crimes involving firearms in England and Wales increased from 13,874 in 1998-99 to 24,070 in 2002/03, they remained relatively static at 24,094 in 2003-04 and have since fallen to 21,521 in 2005-06. The latter includes 3,275 crimes involving imitation firearms and 10,437 involving air weapons, compared to 566 and 8,665 respectively in 1998-99.
Of course, in the UK only those “firearms” positively identified as being imitations or air weapons, for example, by being recovered by the police at the scene or by being actually discharged, are classed as firearms offences as such, so the actual numbers are likely to be significantly higher.
This manipulation in reporting firearms figures is common with governments who desire to produce data that support their contentions. (The Brady group is an absolute master at this.)
In 2005-06, 8,978 of the total of 21,521 firearms crimes (42%) were for criminal damage. The UK Home Office tends to change the numbers to suit the mood. For example, prior to the gun-ban, they needed to boost gun-crime figures, so they included cases of poaching, certificate application errors, mistakes in public reporting, and juveniles misusing air or BB guns, e.g. breaking windows. This of course gave an inflated and inaccurate picture. However once the gun-ban was in force, these statistics needed reductions, so the home office issued new guidelines to the Police. Now only criminals using real firearms in crimes were included, and then only where the firearm had been recovered and positively identified.
Wow! So there magically appears to be a drastic reduction in the statics. This was attributed to the gun ban, in an attempt to keep a nervous population happy. The Conservative opposition party forced the Labor Home secretary to admit the deception in Parliament, but the BBC, who like their US counterparts did not widely report the story. The Media and press in the UK are solidly anti-gun and would not publish anything that goes against the socialist Mantra.
I personally witnessed this smoke and mirrors approach during a police amnesty for guns in Hampshire. The public were asked to surrender guns they held, under an assurance that there would be no repercussions.
(Ironically, if a member of the public brought a gun into the police Station outside this amnesty they would be liable to arrest, and several were.)
The number of guns handed in during the four-week amnesty was approximately 2,400.
This was in Southern England in the county of Hampshire where I was a serving officer. This was good news for the police and the government. The police proudly displayed the haul at its headquarters in Winchester for the media.
Unfortunately, a young reporter who was sharper than most, asked how many of the guns were actually illegal weapons, rifles, revolvers and such, that would normally have been subject to firearm certificates. When the police, reluctantly gave the answer the figure tanked dramatically. The result then, was that approximately ninety were actually illegal guns. When toy guns, cigarette lighters, BB guns, Air guns and replica and dummy guns were taken out of the equation, a truer picture emerged.
So in essence, the British public was lied to and is still being lied to. This situation should ring loud alarm bells this side of the Atlantic.
Following the gun ban the Police moved swiftly to confiscate all the approximately half a million handguns, until then, lawfully held by the British public. The gun owners were required to surrender all handguns within 4 weeks or be subject to arrest and imprisonment for a minimum term of 5 years. No compensation was offered. The police knew where the guns were, as all had been required to be registered, the police got back all but 7 guns. Remember that next time a politician here says that gun registration is a common sense approach.
Thankfully, in the United States, we have a second amendment of the United States Constitution that guarantees all of us the right to keep and bear arms. The same arguments and falsehoods that preceded the UK gun ban are now rife in this country.
Those politicians will win if we remain asleep. If you are a gun owner you need to ask your state representative if he believes in the right of armed self-defense. If his or her reply is that they support the second amendment and have no problem with hunting, then they do not understand the Second Amendment, which has nothing whatsoever to do with hunting. These politicians need to be identified, exposed, and booted from office. There is no place for them in a free society.
Professional Training for the Practical Gun Owner
Harmony Hollow Firearms Training
Steve and Eva Challis
Jeffersonville, KY 40337