Et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium.
Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634)
The Legacy of Revolutions
It seems that when it comes to the issue of gun control, England has never gotten over the shock of the American Revolution, when a band of patriots, ordinary armed citizens, citizens who were very protective of their rights and liberties, challenged the mighty British empire, and ultimately prevailed.
Here is the historical background. After the Puritanical rule of the Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), the British populace welcomed the restoration of King Charles II, condoning the pageantry and permissiveness within his court as well as tolerating the restrictive gun control laws he implemented in the realm. (i.e., the Game Act of 1671). The policies (and religion) of his brother successor, King James II, on the other hand, were not tolerated, and within a few years Parliament orchestrated the Glorious Revolution (1689) that ousted James II and established Parliament's supremacy over the Crown. Included among the Declaration of Rights (Feb. 13, 1689) which Prince William of Orange and his wife Mary, James II's Parliamentary chosen successors, had to agree to accept before they could ascend the throne of England was: "That the subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions, and as allowed by Law." Notice in the statement the lack of equality of citizens before the law (i.e., Protestant vs. Catholic), the arbitrary government prerogative to restrict the natural rights of citizens, and the violation of Sir Edward Coke's wise dictum, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium, "a man's home is his castle," and that a man has a right to possess arms to protect his property, himself, his home, and family. Ditto for Sir William Blackstone's (1723-1780) fifth and last auxiliary right of a citizen, the God-given right of a person to keep and bear arms for his basic and natural right of resistance to oppression and for self-preservation --- "So long as those [liberties of Englishmen] remain inviolate, the subject is perfectly free; for every species of compulsive tyranny and oppression must act in opposition to one or other of those rights."(1) Be that as it may, with the Declaration of Rights, the natural right to self-protection in England became subjected to arbitrary government infringement.
It goes without saying that while we as Americans believe man is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, Property, and those natural rights encapsulated in the Bill of Rights that allow us to pursue Happiness unimpeded by government (i.e., as long as we don't violate the equal rights of others) --- the British allowed their government to assign them "rights" which could then be restricted or qualified out of existence at will by government ---- be it the despotic, capricious rule of the Crown or the tyrannical, arbitrary, Parliament majority, or for that matter, the UN.*
And so, near Concord and Lexington on April 19, 1775, when the British attempted to apprehend the leaders of the brewing rebellion, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and intended to seize and confiscate the arms and ammunition the patriots had stored at Concord --- the shot was fired that was heard around the world. A band of armed patriots --- an organized militia with small private arms, the Minutemen of the revolution --- routed the mighty Red Coats, the disciplined and highly professional force of the British Empire.
The rest, as they say, is history...despite a protracted assault on our liberties by the advances of creeping (democratic) socialism, globalism, public mis-education, and liberal mass media indoctrination --- our Constitutional Republic survives and America remains the freest country in the world.
Great Britain, once considered by some to be perhaps the most civilized country in the world, has allowed itself to be carried by the continental wave of European democratic socialism. And now led by the heirs of the Fabian socialists of the Labor Party, Britain has betrayed the code of conduct of civilized nations and international jurisprudence by kidnapping and holding General Pinochet, a former head of state, under arrest at the extradition request of a socialist Spanish judge on dubious criminal charges to satisfy left-wing, global political correctness. Gen. Pinochet was apprehended Oct. 17 while recuperating from back surgery and is being held under house arrest at the Wentworth Estate outside London. Initially, a British high court prevailed and the charges were temporarily suspended. But then on November 25, 1998, the Law Lords, a House of Lords British tribunal voted 3 to 2 to have Gen. Pinochet stay in England to face extradition charges to Spain, "for crimes against humanity, murder and genocide." It now appears Prime Minister Tony Blair blackmailed the House of Lords with the intimation, only two days prior to the ruling, that the peerage could lose its hereditary membership in the name of "democratic reform." To make matters even worse for the ruling, it has now been found the judge, Lord Justice Hoffman, who cast the deciding vote had a serious conflict of interest with ties to Amnesty International, a group which has long campaigned against Pinochet.
How low can you stoop to trample the rule of law? If Pinochet, who saved his country from Marxist tyranny and then after re-establishing the rule of law handed over the reins of power to democratic rule in Chile, faced extradition "for crimes against humanity, murder and genocide," then why not other dictators e.g., Fidel Castro, the longest ruling tyrant in the world, who still reigns over the communist, island-prison of Cuba. In fact, Castro, who was visiting Spain at the time of Pinochet's travails, declared he would be happy to see Pinochet extradited to face criminal charges. But as a recent report by Accuracy In Media (AIM) succinctly put it: The revolution he launched on September 11, 1973, was relatively bloodless. According to official reports, 3,200 people were killed or disappeared. Allende himself committed suicide with a gun that was a gift from Fidel Castro.
By contrast, Fidel Castro had executed 22,000 people by the end of 1969, according to the estimate of an intelligence officer at the Spanish embassy in Havana. The bloodletting did not stop then. A Cuban scholar, Dr. Armando Lago, estimates that the total is now 30,000. Tens of millions were killed by Lenin and Stalin in Russia and by Mao Tse-tung and his successors in China. The butchers of Tiananmen Square may have killed as many in one day as the Chilean military killed in the 17 years of Pinochet's rule, but their ringleader, Jiang Zemin, was recently an honored guest at the Clinton White House.(3)
Allow me again to digress briefly and mention, at least for now, another ongoing story and related embarrassing situation for Britain, the Irish problem, the protracted insurrection aimed at the heart of the British nation and which has nearly brought the once great empire to its knees. And let us say it, despite the trading of personal liberty for public security and the step-by-step imposition of draconian gun control and the restrictions of other civil liberties in the name of fighting IRA terrorism, the Irish problem remains unresolved. The measures have provided neither peace, tranquility, nor safety --- long-lasting peace remains to be seen.
The British authorities had been impotent to stop terrorist attacks, yet British subjects have been left disarmed, denied personal safety in the streets and the right of self-protection and of self-defense in their own homes. Under England's present gun control laws only certified members of approved target shooting gun clubs are allowed to keep firearms, which must be .22 caliber or smaller, and which must be kept locked up at the gun club at all times. There are also no veritable self-defense laws in England.(4)
The Rise in British Crime and Violence
Despite the talking heads on the evening news implying otherwise, violent crime is steadily coming down in American cities, despite the fact there are more guns in America than ever before (i.e., refuting the simplistic public health view of "more guns, more crime") and record numbers of citizens carrying permits for concealed firearms. Only Switzerland, where virtually every home houses a fully automatic firearm and every adult male citizen is armed and expected to participate in the national polity as well as local self-government, can boost a longer-lived but just as stable a republic as ours. To make matters worse for British citizen disarmament, despite their draconian gun control laws and their loss of civil liberties, crime has steadily increased in Britain in the last several years: "Britons are chagrined by the findings of a U.S. Department of Justice study that says a person is nearly twice as likely to be robbed, assaulted or have a vehicle stolen in Britain as in the United States. The Trans-Atlantic cousins can take comfort in the fact that the United States remains far ahead of Britain in violent crimes, including murder and rape, although the gap is narrowing there as well."(6)
Additionally, the study revealed, "In 1995, the last year for which complete statistics were available for both countries, there were 20 assaults per 1,000 people or households in England and Wales but only 8.8 in the United States."(4) While the U.S. still leads in the most violent crimes, rates for serious crimes such as murder are coming down relative to Great Britain. In fact, the Associated Press recently reported that U.S. murder rates have reached a 30-year low and "serious crimes reported by police declined for the sixth straight year in 1997."(7)
During this period of the study which was conducted by a Cambridge University professor and a statistician from the U.S. Department of Justice and reported in The Washington Times, several types of crimes rose steadily in Britain while declining in America. For example, "Robberies rose 81 percent in England and Wales but fell to 28 percent in the United States. Assault increased 53 percent in England and Wales but declined 27 percent in the United States. Burglaries doubled in England but fell by half in the United States and motor vehicle theft rose 51 percent in England but remained the same in the United States."(6)
To make matters worse for England (and this is also true for Canada), in those countries where citizens are disarmed in their own homes, day burglary is commonplace and dangerous because criminals know they will not be shot at if caught flagrante delicto; whereas in the U.S., burglars prefer night burglaries and they try to make sure homeowners are not at home to avoid being shot at by the intended victims. A recent report on this dangerous practice and the rising tide of thievery and burglaries in England has dubbed Britain "a nation of thieves." The London Sunday Times noted: "More than one in three British men has a criminal record by the age of 40. While America has cut its crime rate dramatically Britain remains the crime capitol of the West. Where," asks the British author, "have we gone wrong?"(8)
Ironically, the most drastic ascendancy of crimes in Britain was found in those types of felonies where recent studies in the U.S. have shown that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, not only save lives, but protect private property, reduce injuries to good people, and crime is generally deterred.(9) For example, the use of firearms to protect oneself against violent predators has proved to be an effective self-defense measure in the United States according to several studies described in the monumental books, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (1991) and Targeting Guns (1997) by Prof. Gary Kleck of Florida State University; Don B. Kates, et. al., in the Tennessee Law Review journal; David Kopel in at least two books, Guns --- Who Should Have Them (1995) and The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? (1993); and Dr. Edgar Suter and other members of Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research in various articles in the Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia (1994-1995).(10,11)
Even U.S. government studies have had to admit the beneficial aspects of gun ownership in the hands of ordinary, law-abiding citizens, particularly in the area of self-protection. For example, a 1993 Department of Justice study found that "67.2 percent of people who had used a weapon to defend themselves against violent crime believed it had helped their situation." The results of this study are, of course, also in line with the 1996 epochal paper and subsequent book, More Guns Less Crime --- Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws (1998) by University of Chicago professor John Lott and researcher David Mustard, which found that allowing people to carry concealed weapons deters violent crime --- without any apparent increase in accidental deaths. The work of these researchers, based on 16 years of studying FBI crime data for all 3,054 U.S. counties, concluded that "if states without right-to-carry laws had adopted them in 1992, about 1,570
murders, 4,177 rapes, and 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided annually."(12)
Women --- Lacking Guns and The Right To Self-Protection
Moreover, as it refers to women specifically, studies in the U.S. have shown that guns are the great equalizer for females when accosted in the streets or assaulted in their homes. When a woman is armed with a gun, up to 83 percent of the time she will be successful at preventing rape, and only half as likely of being injured in the process.(9) Armed with this information, more American women are becoming gun owners. It has been estimated that between 1988-1996, gun ownership for women nationwide has jumped by 70 percent and the Department of Licensing of Firearm Units shows that 18.6 percent of concealed gun permit holders in Washington state are women. And, interestingly, according to Lott's research "for each additional woman carrying a concealed handgun, the murder rate for women is reduced by 3 or 4 times more than one additional man carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for men."(12) This statistic bolsters criminologist Don B. Kates' findings in the 1980s that a woman with a gun who is willing to use it will deter rape in 83 percent of cases. These figures should be good news in the U.S. for the 17 million American women estimated to carry guns.(13)
On the other hand, British women (like men) have no such right to self-defense and are barred from having handguns for self-protection in the home (i.e., when attacked, they are suppose to flee and leave their homes to their assailants hoping they can escape), not to mention the ability to carry concealed guns for self-defense when accosted in the streets. While the number of rapes in the U.S. is still higher than in Great Britain, it's falling, whereas the rate of sex crimes and violent assaults in England and Wales is increasing rapidly due to their permissive criminal justice system and tendency to rehabilitate rather than punish criminals --- and, of course, the stringent policy of citizen disarmament. This pusillanimous policy advertises to sex criminals that they have nothing to fear not only from their criminal justice system but also from their intended victims.
The Irish Problem --- One Final Caveat
While it's obvious to the most naïve observer that one of Great Britain's reasons for citizen disarmament is that it does not have a Second Amendment guaranteeing the natural right to self-defense, there are other slightly less obvious reasons such as England's Fabian socialist incrementalist drive toward statism and authoritarianism at the expense of individual rights and freedom. A still more elusive reason (i.e., which to my knowledge has not yet been aired), is the fact that like it or not, England has been waging a war, unsuccessfully by everyone's account, to squelch the terrorist IRA in which, at least in Northern Ireland, every young Catholic man is a suspect and the British government will not allow him the right to keep and bear arms and the right of self- (and family-) defense. Not surprisingly, young Protestant terrorists of Northern Ireland (e.g., Ulster's Union) have become almost as much of a threat to Catholics who are frequently victims of terrorist acts in Northern Ireland.
But have these draconian gun control laws worked in Great Britain, a nation which at the turn of the century was free of crime and terrorism and had only relatively modest gun control laws? Facts corroborate that they have not. Crime has steadily increased along with Third World immigration, the rise of socialism and the welfare state, the persistent political (and religious) conflict of Northern Ireland, and gun control laws becoming more strident.
How about the terrorist threat? While Great Britain had no trouble dispatching the Argentinean army and its professional air force in the Falklands War, it has been repeatedly humiliated by the IRA. So much so that the British government has been forced to come to the negotiating table and deal with the IRA's political arm, Sinn Fein, and its leader, Jerry Adams, as an equal. Why? Consider this fact: the FBI officially estimates the active IRA to be a mere 200 members on an island the size of Arkansas. And yet, this small band has kept the proud British army at bay for decades, and ultimately, as has recently taken place, has forced them to negotiate with their terrorist leaders as equal, despite gun control and the implementation of strict anti-terrorist measures throughout the United Kingdom.
With "...Neither Liberty Nor Safety"
In short, as a student of history with a great admonition and respect for the flowering of Western civilization in the form of the British classical liberalism of the late 19th century, the enlightened reign of Queen Victoria when England ruled the seas, and other marvels of British culture and history --- I remain perplexed by the unwillingness of the British to see the light and change course when faced with the inimical gains of socialism, statism, and modern liberalism (i.e., authoritarianism) in Great Britain** --- particularly, the British government's relentless attack against citizen ownership of private firearms, even for sporting purposes, and the step-by-step disarmament that prevents ordinary, law-abiding British subjects to protect themselves, their families, and their properties, not even in their own homes. Nor am I happy about Britain's not-so-subtle and repeated criticism of our cherished traditions and rugged individualism particularly those contained in our Bill of Rights in such respected publications as The Economist, with its expressed and graphic contempt (i.e., satirical cover of menacing guns, editorials, etc.) for our Second Amendment to the Constitution, the right of Americans to keep and bear arms --- the palladium of our liberties, the right that protects all others.
*This is in fact the case with the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is not comparable to our Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights.(2)
**Democratic socialism is socialism nonetheless and it reigns supremely in England where only the press is freer than in America, as evidenced, to their singular credit, in their superlative coverage and investigative journalism in chronicling our serious scandals, (e.g., the strange death of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, evidence of government prior knowledge in the Oklahoma City bombing, etc.) where our own "respectable" media was often negligent, except in reporting the sordid details of the Monica Lewinsky matter.
1. Blackstone W. Commentaries on the Laws of England. First edition, 1765. Reprinted, 1974. Quoted by L. Adams in The Second Amendment Primer, Birmingham, AL, 1996, p.60.
2. Faria MA Jr. Vandals at the Gates of Medicine --- Historic Perspectives On the Battle Over Health Care Reform. Macon, GA, Hacienda Publishing, Inc., 1995, p.116.
3. Hypocrites pillory Pinochet. AIM Report, December-A. 1998, http://www.aim.org.
4. Kopel D. Gun Control in Great Britain: Saving Lives or Constricting Liberty? Office of International Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 1992, p.46. Quoted by Murphy C. Current in Theory and Reality of Self-Defense in Great Britain. Gun News Digest, Spring 1997, p.22-23, 45.
5. Faria MA Jr. The perversion of science and medicine (Parts I-IV). Medical Sentinel 1997;2(2):46-53 and 2(3):81-86, http://www.haciendapub.com.
6. Marshall T. Is Times Square safer than Piccadilly Circus? The Washington Times, National Weekly Edition, Oct. 19-25, 1998.
7. Sniffen MJ. Murder rate reaches 30-year low. Associated Press, Nov. 23, 1998.
8. Ungoed-Thomas J. A nation of thieves. London Sunday Times, Jan. 11, 1998. Quoted by J. Tartaro in Great Britain --- "a nation of thieves." Gun News Digest, Fall 1998, p.27.
9. Faria MA Jr. Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine. Macon, GA, Hacienda Publishing, Inc., 1997, pp.107-120.
10. Suter EA. Guns in the medical literature --- a failure of peer review. J Med Assoc Ga 1994;83(3):137-148.
11. Suter EA, Waters WC IV, Murray GB, et al. Violence in America -effective solutions. J Med Assoc Ga 1995;84(6):253-263.
12. Lott JR. More Guns Less Crime --- Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press, 1998.
13. Kelly C. Blown away. Penthouse, Nov. 1998. Quoted by Peggy Tartaro in Penthouse puts women gunowners at 17 million. Gun News Digest, Winter 1998-1999, p.42.
Dr. Faria is a consultant neurosurgeon and author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (Macon, Georgia, Hacienda Publishing, Inc., 1995) and Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (Macon, Georgia, Hacienda Publishing, Inc., 1997). He serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel, the official journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1999;4(2):52-55. Copyright©1999 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).