My American cousins must at least concede that the natural right to keep and bear arms was recognized long before their forebears did — in the English Common Law and in the 1688 Bill of Rights. For what it is worth, that document is still part of British constitutional law and states: "subjects… may have arms for their defence…"
While Americans should concede that point, my fellow countrymen should also concede that King George's invading army deserved exactly what they got from the American citizen militia, leading up to that pivotal year of 1776.
Of course, Britain's Christian background meant that belief in the God-given right of arming oneself to defend person and property went back much further — and not just to the Old Testament: In the New, Jesus did emphasise mercy and restraint, but also instructed his disciples to sell their coats if necessary to buy a sword; his illustrated teachings included armed land owners and home owners (ref: here) resisting robbers; and he himself used a whip when driving out moneychangers from his "Father's house".
These and other ideas were consolidated into the precedent of Common Law, as expounded upon by Blackstone, and distilled into common speech through terms like: "An Englishman's home is his castle".
However, if the English did to some extent pass on to the early Americans a belief in the right to keep and bear arms, unfortunately it seems to have been because they were not intending to use it any more.
Especially since the early 1900's, many of the rights and liberties of Englishmen have gradually dwindled away. How the mighty have fallen: The income tax for example, early on was well below ten percent but rose to 90% or more in the 50s and 60s. Today, according to a recent mainstream media documentary, the overall total of government spending is bigger than the private economy.
Socialism was introduced under a facade of Christian compassion in the United Kingdom. But the only reason it could get any foothold at all was the existence of a landless underclass kept in its place by the residual presence of feudalism.
The underclass were promised not freedom but better masters, and sold the idea that they themselves would be in ultimate control of the new masters through “democracy”. Earlier and better men had grown tired of both this servility and of elite feudalism, and had set out for greener pastures in the colonies.
What had originally begun there as free trade ended up as an empire — subjugating the local populations by denying their right to bear arms. But there must still have been something right about the Common Law and minimal administrative framework of those colonies…
Some went on to be listed among the richest and freest countries in the world — at least, relatively speaking: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Bahamas and some of the Caribbean islands. Others have not done so well of course: Jamaica has had the unwelcome distinction of the highest murder rate in the world — since introducing total gun control in the 1970's.
For Britain, the big downside was that its best and brightest spread out around the world, most never to return. That left a greater concentration of fertile ground for ideas appealing to the something-for-nothing underclass and it also left the entrenched power-and-glory over-class. The freedom loving middle class have fought back at times and some in the working class have broken out of the mould. But the cry for liberty, rather than just more reasonable masters, has been muted and alliances with the feudal Tory Grandees have made it a losing battle ever since.
But socialism, feudalism, fascism or any other form of state control “ism” can never last without the firepower superiority of the state. The over-class must have the last word and the underclass must know it. Politics is never the same when it is known that the armed population can, as a last resort, get fed up with the masters and kick them out by force.
In a society like Britain, where the government has now exceeded the size of the productive economy, that level of fed up-ness can only increase. Economic failure and failed political promises can only be papered over with propaganda and money printing for so long.
Still, the power and glory bunch don’t need to have too much concern. All that really matters to them is that they keep the top military and secret police brass happy. These absolutely must be political insiders, as must the moral rubber stamp machine of last resort — the state sponsored church.
The main reason they feel they don’t need to be too concerned, is because the population is disarmed. Always a big concern of the socialists, feudalists and fascists, the only way that an authoritarian end could be maintained in a country with a tradition of private arms ownership was through gradualism. Gradually at each public crisis the right would be turned into permission and then whittled away with conditions until gone.
Today it is gone, and the only reason a farmer can have a shotgun (of no more than 3 shell capacity) is because royalty and the elites have always liked clay pigeon and pheasant shooting on their estates. Anyone who has any kind of firearm has to be inspected by police annually. They have to keep the weapon under lock and key in a safe and in a manner approved by the visiting inspector.
In the 1950's banks would require branches to keep a loaded pistol. Today, protection is no grounds for owning one. Government guidance on "self defence" has allowed for using nothing more than a few commonly available household objects and is beyond absurd.
There has been some minor adjustment in the last couple of years, but the situation is far from clear. Recent crackdowns have meant that even carrying a knife of more than two and a half inches in length can lead to imprisonment. British men have been legally turned into cowards and some have complied up to the point of looking the other way when a young woman was attacked on public transport.
The media is tightly locked down on the subject of self defence or firearms. Media ownership at the top of course, is only granted to insiders who toe the line. Rupert Murdoch was a Margaret Thatcher favourite at one stage and so gained a foothold in Britain and a launch pad for the world media empire. Recently he has fallen out of favour and we can only speculate on the insider forces at work. Yet still he openly tweets his support for gun control in the hopes of recovering some of the lost favour.
I have never seen any openly pro-gun editorial or article in any major British media outlet. There is no debate and there is no objectivity on the subject. There is not even pretence of it. Public opinion is mostly guided by the BBC and the media mogul or two who has access to their minds en masse. Over in the US the media agenda is generally the same. The indisputable facts, that shootings usually occur in gun-free control zones and that multiple instances of mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens, are actively suppressed. But still, there is much more of a debate on the ground.
When a school shooting took place in Scotland in 1997, it was accomplished by a registered and licensed handgun owner. The Dunblane massacre was followed by all the media hysteria then Prime Minister Tony Blair needed to ban handguns completely. The UK Daily Mirror newspaper editor at the time was Piers Morgan and he was among those who supported it. So he openly lied on television recently when he claimed not to be against the right of home owners to protect themselves.
What then would a genuinely unbiased media say on the issue of firearms?
Bias is most evident when reporting on any one of the tens and hundreds of thousands of violent crime victims in the UK. The issue is not and has never been “gun crime”. For anyone who cares about people, the only matter of concern is violence — whether by knife, gun, baseball bat or physical strength. In Britain, all victims of violence are defenceless by law, thanks to politicians; a fact which goes unmentioned in the media, every time. Instead are calls for more police power, civil liberties violation and lower standards of evidence.
It is important to note that government, irrespective of party, maintains power by doing the vast majority of armed stealing in the UK. It pays off the something-for-nothing brigade of voters in welfare entitlements. It is true that many good people are also forced onto the welfare system due to a crippled economy borne down by taxation, regulation, state privileged big business and central banking. Nevertheless, many do support the principle of something for nothing by voting for it.
That expectation will not immediately change when the economy tanks and welfare is dramatically reduced. Then the gloves will really come off. In the meantime, there is still a lot of private violent crime in the UK. But that is not the concern of the politically motivated media control freaks. It does not really concern them that violent crime and even gun crime has shot up after the already few handguns were banned completely.
A genuinely free press would report with outrage on every single case of defenceless victims with headlines like: “Victim defenceless — politicians to blame” “Gun control kills again — no protection for murder victim” “How many more defenceless victims?” “When will the innocent be able to fight back?”
The only time I ever heard a concern of that nature expressed in the UK press was a few years ago when a farmer shot a burglar and killed him with a shotgun. The farmer went to jail, many sympathised, but few followed the sympathy to its obvious conclusion.
What could they do anyway? Governments in essence are organised special interest groups — headed up by pathological insiders, and assisted by self-righteous busybodies and sycophantic ladder climbers. They want power above all else and are convinced it is for the general good. They are also greedy for personal advancement and gain. They like things just the way they are.
When the population starts rising up in anger, they retreat into their modern secularised “divine right of governments” philosophy and demand “law and order” at all costs. Of course, they get to dream up the "law" and to enforce the “order”. As long as the military/police state brass is in on the plot, then the tools for dictatorship are in place — provided the people are disarmed.
I never rule out miracles — but it will certainly take one of Biblical Exodus proportions to free a people once they finally realize they have been enslaved, but have no weapons. Perhaps the fall of the Soviet Union — which was also due to the harsh reality of economic law, not Western belligerence — offers just a glimmer of hope. For similar reasons, freedom has increased in China.
Perhaps the British people will also come round, eventually. But gradualism has done its work and right now, many of them are happy being spoon fed from cradle to grave by government and bureaucrats. Natural social welfare institutions have been so shot to pieces that, landless and abandoned by family, neighbours and church many others have no alternative.
It will take a crisis to change that, along with the teaching of ideas that a state sponsored church, state franchised media and state owned education establishment are unlikely to celebrate. The crisis is certainly on the way — but which way it will go from there has yet to be decided.
Finally, what about the actual question of private crime? Are governments anywhere really capable, through police state measures, of keeping people safe?
Their own power-and-glory elite are certainly kept safe with armed personal bodyguards. That much goes without saying across both sides of the Atlantic, with Obama’s own children protected at their private school by no less than eleven armed security guards.
However, in less exalted circles, the last figures I heard from the London Metropolitan Police were that detection rates — even for serious crimes — were around 28%. That’s bad enough, but the fact is that even for serious crimes like rape, less than half are ever reported. Of course, more recent public figures will have been massaged and fudged by including great “victories” like picking on uninsured young drivers (insurance cost 2-4000+ — $4-6k), or turning young people's pockets out and finding cannabis, or a pocket knife for self defence.
But in the real world of real crime, that is about a 15% detection rate of perpetrators.
A 15% detection rate — after a crime has already happened — and the British people are supposed to place 100% reliance on police for protection from crimes before they even take place?
Gun control first enslaves; then it kills. That is just one more price the politicians and their allied beneficiaries of the state are happy for others to pay.
Paul Green [send him mail] provides internet and communications privacy services worldwide.