or Preaching to the Heathen
I’ve responded again to Tim Lambert, but I thought I’d post it here too. If I’m going to do that much work, I might as well take advantage of it. Go read the whole thread if you want the background on it. Here’s my latest:
Tim, IT DOESN’T WORK!
Restrictions on weapons, except in rare cases, ONLY make it more difficult to defend oneself. They have essentially no effect on the access to weapons by violent criminals. Had Lindsay been assaulted away from home he would not have had access to the sword. Then what? There’s a complete ban on handguns in England, yet one of his assailants had one.
What you characterize as “restrictions on weapons” in England is the complete denial of the ability of anyone to legally possess one, at least outside their own home. Well, that’s one definition of “restriction” I guess. When it comes to firearms the laws “restrict” English subjects from using a firearm in self-defense in their own homes by requiring them to store their firearm (assuming they have jumped through all the hoops required to acquire one, and fully cognizant of the fact that the law considers self-defense an unacceptable reason for having one) unloaded, in a locked container, away from the ammunition which is required to be in a separate locked container.
I have described above the cycle of ever-more draconian “restrictions on weapons” as a result of the cognitive dissonace produced from a philosophy that holds that all weapons are offensive and the cause of violence. As an adjunct to that philosophy, the use of weapons is held to be evil, with the sole exception of the use of weapons by an agent of government. The philosophy has further morphed, becoming one in which there is almost no recognition of the concept of a legitimate use of force, at least without a UN Security Council joint resolution. 😉
In the context of resistance to crime, all a violent criminal need do in order to nearly guarantee himself success is to select a victim that is his physical inferior, or to overwhelm his victim with numbers. If he wants to make it even easier all he needs to do is have a weapon, since his victim will almost certainly not have one and weapons are readily available in spite of the laws against them. (I’m sure Lindsay’s attackers never expected him to resist. He was outnumbered and outmatched. I think he was successful as much out of shock as anything.) If the violent criminal actually likes to use force against his victims, he need not fear any effective resistance. As a result of this physical reality, violent crime has been on the increase in England and Wales since the 1950’s.
You have (understandably, given the origination of this thread) focused on the assertion that “self-defense is illegal.” I’ll make my position explicit: There is a legal recognition that the British subject has a right to use legitimate force in stopping a crime against himself. It even acknowledges a right to use lethal force against a rapist. However, the laws of the last fifty years, developed under the philosophy I described above and that you by all indications share, have resulted in a situation in which the actual use of force in resisting crime is legally risky. The carry of weapons outside the home is prohibited, making the defensive use of them prohibited. The use of weapons inside the home might as well be. The bar of “reasonableness” has been raised again and again. The law makes comforting noises about the jury taking into account the “instinctive” reaction of the attacked, but the jury – distanced from the attack in time, location, and emotion – is tasked with determining how “reasonable” that “instinctive” reaction is. Lindsay stabbed his attacker four times – in the back, certainly – and is sentenced to eight years. Here in the States someone gets indicted and tried for shooting a burglar six times, four in the back, and when asked why responds “that’s all the bullets that were in the gun.” The jury finds this “reasonable” and acquits. (That’s an apocryphal example, but I can find a comparable concrete one without too much trouble.)
My apologies for this thread drifting so far away from what you consider the original point, but in my opinion what we’re discussing here is the absolute right of the individual to defend himself, his family and his property. That right is given mere lip service, but has no legal force in England any longer. The use of force, even the threat of force, by those who are not government agents is considered illegitimate regardless of the actor. The law-abiding citizen is the victim of that flawed philosophy and the cognitive dissonance that has set up a negative feedback loop resulting in their total disarmament. He (or she) is relegated to being the unresisting victim of violent crime by a system that denies, whether overtly or covertly, a right to the legitimate use of force.
You (inclusive) have avoided a question that I have posed more than once. The law recognizes the right of a woman to use lethal force against a rapist, but denies her any means by which to exercise it. How do you justify this dichotomy? Your last, lame response was “Restrictions on weapons might make self defence more difficult in some cases.” Well, it certainly does in this one, doesn’t it? The philosophy you defend is perhaps better described by saying that it is more moral for society to allow women to be raped than it is to enable them to stand with a smoking gun over the body of the rapist. That’s extreme, but nonetheless accurate.
My argument is that a philosophy that justifies the restriction of all weapons from the general public is WRONG, and that philosophy is spreading. The news report that originated this thread is just another example of the spread of that philosophy, and we American bloggers who flew off the handle recognized it as such. You share the cognitive dissonance that does not permit you to accept that the philosophy has failed, and as a result you fail to recognize the error of that philosophy.
We’ll see, I suppose, if that last assertion is validated.