THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 558, February 21, 2010
"Voluntary servitude has consequences."
A Brief History of British Gun Control
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
In 1900 the British government trusted the people with firearms and to be their own guardians. Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the Marquess of Salisbury said he would "laud the day when there was a rifle in every cottage in England". However in 1903 Britain passed its first ever "gun control" law, a minor one requiring a permit to carry a handgun and restricting the age of purchasers. It was the first toe over a slippery slope towards complete firearms prohibition.
In 1919 the British government, in fear of communist insurgents and domestic and foreign anarchists, passed its first sweeping anti-gun laws (under the smokescreen of crime control) even though gun related crime was almost non existent in the England of the day. British subjects could now only buy a firearm if they could show "a good reason" for having one and the firearm certificate system that we have today (implemented and abused by police) was introduced. The 1920 gun control act was the beginning of the end for private firearms ownership in England. So much for Robert Gascoyne-Cecil's remarks of "a rifle in every cottage in England" being a laudable goal.
In 1936 short barrelled shotguns (such as shot pistols used for ratting) and fully automatic firearms were outlawed. Why? Not because such firearms were ever misused but because the government dictated that civilians had "no legitimate reason" for owning them. Where have we heard that before! Another slide down the slippery slope. The reasoning has now changed from the government NEEDING TO SHOW REASONS FOR THE RESTRICTIONS to the people NEEDING TO SHOW REASONS TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHTS, to a government TELLING them that there was NO ACCEPTABLE REASON.
The English Bill of Rights states "That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and as allowed by law" Sir William Blackstone, commenting on this in his Commentaries on the laws of England said, "The fifth and last auxiliary RIGHT of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition, and as allowed by law, which is also declared by the same statute IW & M ft.2c.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". I wonder what happened to "the natural RIGHT of resistance and self preservation" (from domestic criminals and out of control governments). Have not the "sanctions of society and laws" been shown "insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression"?
In 1936 the government added a "safe storage" requirement on the owners of handguns and rifles to "prevent the guns falling into the wrong hands" Where have we heard that one before, and how often do the British police use that particular requirement to harass what is left of the British gun owning community?
As a direct consequence of the 1920 gun control act, not only did Britain not have "a rifle in every cottage" but they had to ask American citizens to send them every type of rifle and handgun at the outbreak of WWII, so British people would have some means of defending their homes and islands against the Nazi hordes massing across the English Channel. Americans responded by sending every type of firearm to the unarmed and helpless people of Britain. No surprise, but at the end of the war the British people did not get to keep the guns, the government seized many of them back and dumped them in the sea. Such was the British government's gratitude to the American public and distrust of their own people.
In 1946 "self defence" was no longer considered a good reason for requiring a police issued firearms certificate. The slippery slope got even steeper.
In 1953 carrying any type of weapon for self defence was made illegal, making the streets even safer for the criminal element and giving great "crime control" soundbites to the police and press.
In 1967 a chap by the name of Harry Roberts blasted three policemen to death in a London street using a 9mm Luger pistol and the British government restricted shotguns for the very first time. Try to figure out the logic... handgun used... shotguns licensed for the first time in British history. Opportunistic, or am I just being a cynical bastard?
In 1982 black powder muzzle loader shooters and handloaders were required to allow police inspection of their security arrangements to ensure "safe storage" of the powder they possessed, meaning that agents of the state could demand entry into an Englishman's home at any time of day or night without a warrant.
In 1988 all semi-automatic rifles were banned, including pump action rifles. The personal property of law abiding people was once again outlawed and seized. All the guns were registered and easy to find, that is to say, all the legally held ones.
In 1996 all handguns were banned and they too were all registered with the agents of the state. Well, need I say more? You get the picture. Also in 1996 carrying any knife with a blade longer than 3 inches was made illegal. Presumably one cannot stab someone to death with a three inch knife. You now had to show "good reason" for carrying a knife, the presumption of innocence, until proven guilty of a crime, was gone.
In England today you cannot carry any type of weapon for self defence and you cannot use a firearm to defend your home, family, or property. The gun and weapon laws have made crime safe for criminals and the other violent thugs and miscreants who infest our country today.
In 2006 the government passed the Violent Crime Reduction Act. The VCRA restricted all "realistic" toy/replica guns. Now Britons were not to be trusted with even imitation non-firing replicas. "Violent crime reduction" was once again used as the smokescreen to enact oppressive laws and deprive the law abiding of their property. As part of the VCRA an airgun can no longer be purchased by mail order and the name and address of the purchaser must be registered with the seller. Is the bigger picture now getting clearer?
In 2009 talks with the British government were started to devolve airgun laws to the Scottish parliament. If and when the Scottish parliament is given the power over airgun legislation the Parliament has vowed to ban the sale of all airguns in Scotland. In the coming years, England will follow the Scottish example and airgun registration and an eventual licensing system will follow. The slippery slope is now in a vertical freefall.
Am I suggesting that there has been some nefarious plan all along to disarm and subjugate the British people? Yes, partly. I am also suggesting that this is a cycle of government behaviour long recognised, one we should be paying attention to, and breaking. We KNOW what governments do; they acquire power at the expense of the governed. They do it slowly, almost imperceptibly, and usually for nefarious reasons and political expediency.
You can always rely on your Expedient Homemade Firearms book though, can't you? They would not dare to ban books, would they? Oh yes, it's already started.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
to prosper is for good men to do nothing"