New Evidence on Gun Control II: The British Experience

Second of a two part series

[Click here for part I
Important New Book Refutes Gun Control Myths
]

Did you know that a person`s chances of being mugged
in London are six times higher than in New York City?

Did you know that assault,
robbery and burglary rates are

far higher
in England than in the U.S.?

Did you know that in England self-defense of person
or property is regarded as an anti-social act, and that
a victim who injures or kills an assailant is likely to
be treated with more severity than the assailant?

Joyce Lee Malcolm blames the rocketing rates of
violent and armed crimes in England on “government
policies that have gone badly wrong.” Her careful
research in

Guns and Violence

The English Experience,
just released by

 Harvard University Press
leads to this conclusion:

“Government created a
hapless, passive citizenry, then took upon itself the
impossible task of protecting it. Its failure could not
be more flagrant.”

Professor Malcolm begins her study of English crime
rates, weapons ownership, and attitudes toward
self-defense in the Middle Ages. She continues the story
through the Tudor-Stuart centuries, the 18th, 19th, and
20th centuries. She finds that five centuries of growing
civility, low crime rates and declining firearm homicide
rates ended in the 20th century.

Professor Malcolm shows that an unprotected public at
the mercy of criminals is the result of (1) the 1967
revision of criminal law, which altered the common law
standard for self-defense and began the process of
criminalizing self-defense, and (2) increasing
restrictions on handguns and other firearms, culminating
in the 1997 ban of handgun ownership (and most other
firearms).

In England the penalty for possessing a handgun is
ten years in prison. The result is the one predicted by
the

National Rifle Association
: “when
guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.” During
the two years following the 1997 handgun ban, the use of
handguns in crime rose by 40 percent. During seven
months of 2001, armed robberies in London rose by 53
percent.

These shocking crime rates are understatements,
because “the English police still grossly underreport
crimes. . . . The 1998 British Crime Survey found four
times as many crimes occurred as police records
indicated.”

A disarmed public now faces outlaws armed with

machine-guns
. People in London residential
neighborhoods have been machine-gunned to death. Gunmen
have even burst into court and freed defendants.

The British government forbids citizens to carry any
article that might be used for self-defense. Even
knitting needles and walking sticks have been judged to
be “offensive weapons.” In 1994 an English homeowner
used a toy gun to detain two burglars who had broken
into his home. The police arrested the homeowner for
using an imitation gun to threaten and intimidate.

A British Petroleum executive was wounded in an
assault on his life in a London Underground train
carriage. In desperation, he fought off his attackers by
using an ornamental sword blade in his walking stick. He
was tried and convicted of carrying an offensive weapon.

A youth fearful of being attacked by a gang was
arrested for carrying a cycle chain. After police
disarmed him, he was set upon and hospitalized as a
result of a brutal beating. The prosecutor nevertheless
insisted on prosecuting the victim for “carrying a
weapon.”

Seventy percent of rural villages in Britain entirely
lack police presence. But self-defense must be
“reasonable,” as determined after the fact by a
prosecutor. What is reasonable to a victim being
attacked or confronted with home intruders at night can
be quite different from how a prosecutor sees it. A
woman who uses a weapon to fight off an unarmed rapist
could be convicted of using unreasonable force.

In 1999

Tony Martin
, a farmer, turned his shotgun on two
professional thieves when they broke into his home at
night to rob him a seventh time. Mr. Martin received a
life sentence for killing one criminal, 10 years for
wounding the second, and 12 months for having an illegal
shotgun. The wounded burglar is already released from
prison.

American prosecutors
now follow British ones in restricting
self-defense to reasonable force as defined by
prosecutors. Be forewarned that Americans can no longer
use deadly force against home intruders unless the
intruder is also armed and the homeowner can establish
that he could not hide from the intruder and had reason
to believe his life was in danger.

The assault on England`s version of the Second
Amendment was conducted by

unsavory characters
in the British Home Office. Long
before guns were banned, the Home Office secretly
instructed the police not to issue licenses for weapons
intended to protect home and property.

In the British

welfare state
, crimes against property are not taken
seriously. Professor Malcolm reports that

criminals
face minimal chances of arrest and
punishment, but a person who uses force to defend
himself or his property is in serious trouble with the
law. A recent British law textbook says that the right
to self-defense is so mitigated “as to cast doubt on
whether it still forms part of the law.”

An Englishman`s home is no longer his castle. Thanks
to gun control zealots, England has become the
land of choice for criminals.

Paul Craig Roberts is the co-author of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
.

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