The History of Disarming Citizens

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By Mark Angelides

As much noise is made in the US about adding gun control laws, it is worth looking at the illiberal laws that have been used in the UK to disarm the population. It is a history of making laws that had no relation to the problems they were meant to deal with and have left the citizens of Britain in a dangerous legal position when attempting to defend themselves.

Back in the early 18th Century, William Blackstone defined the right for self-preservation clearly, saying that:

“ (People)having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c.2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”

This is a concept that will surely sound familiar to those in the US. Today, one is still allowed to defend oneself, but only with what is adjudicated “reasonable force” (and who is to say what is reasonable in a dangerous, frightening situation). The individual may not carry a weapon.

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The idea behind this appears to be that if weapons were allowed to be carried, then criminals would also carry weapons, and the victim of a beating would more likely become the victim of a much more serious injury.

It supposes that a person is unlikely to be attacked in general, and that the police take over the role of protecting the public. As a Brit, this has always seemed fairly reasonable to me… until now.

A brief look at the rising crime in England shows that the likelihood of an individual being attacked has gone up and the likelihood of the police preventing said attack has gone down:

These are last year’s increases across England and Wales (only up until September):

68,968 robbery offences, + 29%

138,045 sex offences, + 23%

37,443 knife crime offences, + 21%

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1,291,405 violent crime offences, + 20%

This is just one year’s increase…Figures have been rising for the last three and show no signs of slowing down.

So the question becomes: Now that an individual’s chances of being attacked, robbed, or sexually assaulted have gone up by a staggering amount, can we rely on the police force to protect us?

In 1996, it became illegal to own a handgun (and to carry a knife with a blade longer than 3 inches). Since then, the firearm related deaths have fluctuated wildly; 1997/98 saw 49 such deaths, within three years, this figure had almost doubled. Recent years have been lower, but last year saw an increase in violent crimes across the board.

The fact is, that gun control hasn’t worked. People are getting killed. Yes, British folk can argue that they feel safer not having guns around, but as the risks of becoming a victim of violence increase, when will they say enough is enough?

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