While the Mercury Appears to be Falling, a Snowball Still Won’t Survive Hell

But perhaps, just perhaps, the Brits are beginning to grasp what their laws have brought them to. Via Keepandbeararms.com I found this London Sunday Telegraph op-ed advocating “the law to be changed to give householders the right to use whatever force is necessary against intruders.”

Here’s the piece:

‘People must be given the right to defend themselves in their own homes’

(Filed: 24/10/2004)

The Sunday Telegraph today launches a campaign for the law to be changed to give householders the right to use whatever force is necessary against intruders.

Our initiative follows last week’s fatal stabbing of Robert Symons, a schoolteacher, who disturbed a burglar at his family home in Chiswick, west London.

It is backed by Mr Symons’ mother, Amyra, who said yesterday: “I agree with your campaign totally. The law must be changed.” Victims of crime, MPs and victims’ charities are also supporting the campaign.

The law permits the use of “reasonable force” as a method of self-defence against intruders. What “reasonable force” constitutes, however, is difficult to define, leaving vulnerable people unsure of what force they can use to protect themselves and their homes. The Home Office, admitted to this newspaper last week: “There is no definition of what is ‘reasonable force’.”

This produces that “chilling effect” that Tim Lambert finally grudgingly admitted to after months of back-and-forth discussions over the legal risks of self-defense in England. If you don’t know what the definition of “reasonable force” is, but you know that if you use any significant force, you’re going to court to prove it was “reasonable” – to a group that gets to use perfect hindsight in reviewing your actions and that can decide your fate based on that vague law. In fact, according to one English barrister I quoted previously:

“The law,” explains Harry Potter, the barrister who, with Charles Bott, would defend Osborn, “does not require the intention to kill for a prosecution for murder to succeed. All that is required is an intention to cause serious bodily harm. That intention can be fleeting and momentary. But if it is there in any form at all for just a second – that is, if the blow you struck was deliberate rather than accidental – you can be guilty of murder and spend the rest of your life in prison.”Moreover,” Mr Potter continues, “while self-defence is a complete defence to a charge of murder, the Court of Appeal has ruled that if the force you use is not judged to have been reasonable – if a jury, that is, decides it was disproportionate – then you are guilty of murder. A conviction for murder automatically triggers the mandatory life sentence. There are no exceptions.”

Now, if an intruder is in my home, I would intend to use a level of violence necessary to render him no longer a threat. I would do so deliberately – and by Mr. Potter’s definition, that would mean that I would attempt murder, and would therefore face the wrath of the State for doing so.

Yet Tim insists that “self defence is legal.”

I guess it depends on the whim of the Crown and the depths of your pockets.


The Sunday Telegraph believes that the law must be changed so that once intruders enter someone’s home with the intent of stealing, or raping or assaulting them, they lose their rights to protection from the law.

Here are some of the harrowing stories of people attacked and robbed in their homes, and who support the move to change the law.

Sam and Eleanor Orr, of County Antrim

Mr and Mrs Orr were at home in November 2003, with Eleanor’s 86-year-old mother Elizabeth at their farm in Co Antrim when three masked men burst into their house. The men pistol-whipped Sam and pushed Eleanor and her mother to the floor.

The thugs were particularly rough with Elizabeth as they tried violently to wrestle the gold rings from her arthritic and swollen fingers. She has since died.

Sam, 60, recalled last week: “They stood over us and kept hitting me on the head, there was blood washing down my face so I couldn’t see out of one eye.

“It feels like there is no law at all to protect us. If the boys were caught, which they weren’t, they would have been given a few months and then been let back out again. You should be able to shoot them if they come into your home.

“Eleanor’s mother never recovered from the stress of the attack and we are convinced that is what killed her.

“The law just isn’t strong enough. The robbers aren’t frightened of the law, they act as if they can do whatever they want to do. You should not be prosecuted for injuring an intruder.”

Actually, the problem is that the law is too strong – it prevents people from defending themselves, protecting the thugs in the process. They act as if they can do whatever they want to do because they can, by and large, and they know you will be prosecuted if you defend yourself.

John Bolt OBE, a retired Royal Marine, of Northumberland

Mr Bolt, 81, who served in the Second World War, was stabbed twice by an intruder at his Northumberland home in February 2001. Mr Bolt was upstairs with his wife when they heard a noise.

He went to investigate and was confronted by a burglar armed with a knife. The two struggled and the thief stabbed Mr Bolt twice before fleeing through a window.

“The chap had a knife and so I was entitled to have a go at him. I think, in law, if he’s got a knife, I think I’m entitled to kill him, but I don’t know what the law is in detail.

Because no one does. It apparently varies by jurisdiction and judge.

“It is a funny thing to try and manage with the law because your reaction in those situations is immediate – you don’t stop and think: ‘Gosh, what does it say in the book about this?’

Yet, as the law is written, you aren’t supposed to have to. What you believe at that moment – right or wrong – is supposed to be the deciding factor. But it’s not. Instead, others deciding with calm reflection, months after the incident and with all the pertinent facts at hand are supposed to decide if what you did was “reasonable.”

When, at the time, you aren’t able to reason much, just act. Or not.

“I’m an ex-Royal Marine so my reaction was quite active and wholly motivated by self preservation. I would certainly have tried to finish him off if I had something in my hand at the time, but that is a reaction, an instinct. Whether it is legal or not I don’t know.”

Quite probably not, but again it seems to vary by jurisdiction and judge.

Comforting, no?

Major Roderick Petley and his wife Victoria, 62, of East Sussex

The Petleys, who live near Heathfield, East Sussex, were woken by burglars who broke into their home in the middle of the night earlier this year.

Major Petley, 71, an officer in the Rifle Brigade (now the Royal Green Jackets) from 1952 to 1964, said: “When we were burgled, I went downstairs with a loaded rifle, but they had fled.

“What happened to us has toughened me up a bit. What happened to that man in Chiswick is absolutely awful.”

The burglars smashed a plate glass window with a battering ram, smashing coffee cups and saucers worth £1,000. They escaped with Major Petley’s £3,500 bracket clock in the back of their van.

The Petleys have been forced to spend more than £32,000 on home security improvements, while their annual home insurance premium has risen to £8,000.

Mrs Petley, 62, said: “It’s a nightmare. The police know who did it, but can’t catch them.

“No longer is an Englishman’s home his castle. We are denied the right to defend ourselves and our family, and the law must be changed.”

I wish you luck, but I doubt seriously that you’ll live to see it.

Anonymous couple, of East Sussex

The elderly couple, who live near Heathfield have been burgled twice this year, in June and August. They are now trying to sell their house and move to a “more secure” area.

The man, an 83-year-old former insurance broker, and his wife, 69, were in their house during both burglaries, although they escaped harm by staying in their bedroom. They used to enjoy having their 10 grandchildren to stay, but are now too frightened to have them there.

“The present law stands justice on its head,” the man said. “If you can’t defend your home, what can you do? Both times I have woken and heard burglars in the house, I have felt angry and afraid but have had to leave them to it.

And why? Because he believes (and with reason) that defending his property would land him in jail.

There’s that “chilling effect” again.

“One does worry about what one would do if they came into the bedroom. I don’t know what I could do. I wouldn’t have much hope.

And why? Because this couple is disarmed, while the burglars aren’t. An elderly couple isn’t much of a match for young men, much less young men carrying, say, a crowbar or a knife. This is the condition in which a firearm and only a firearm will make the victim at least equal to the assailant(s).

But you just can’t convince some people of that.

“I would like burglars to expect the worst. It would make a difference. Something to drop on his head or give him a electric shock should be sufficient. These aren’t things you can do, as the law is now.

And this is the mental attitude that will prevent, I think, the Brits from ever retaking their right to self defense. “The worst” isn’t a knock on the head or an electric shock. It’s a sucking chest wound or worse.

“The definition of ‘reasonable force’ should be broader. The burglar should expect anything. A change in the law would, undoubtedly, have an effect on our decision to go or stay.”

Then I suggest you start packing.

Crispin Reed, a website developer, of East London

Mr Reed, 27, was confronted by two burglars at his warehouse flat in Hackney in February last year.

A kitchen knife was held to his throat and his stomach was slashed before the intruders fled with a bicycle, mobile telephone and camera equipment.

Note that all the anti-weapon laws on the books in England didn’t prevent Mr. Reed from being knifed in his own home. They didn’t disarm his attackers. They disarmed the victim.

And that’s all they ever do.

“There was a knocking early one morning. I was half-asleep and I thought it was the postman. When I opened it, two men in their early twenties were standing there. They mumbled something about wanting to buy crack and barged in.

“There were four of us in the flat and I shouted for everyone to get up – I thought that together we could fight them off. But the man holding the knife to my throat told me to be quiet or he would cut me.

“The other one swiped his knife against my stomach. Fortunately I had moved back and the cut wasn’t deep, but it was a 5in long cut and it bled a lot.

“At the time this happened my sister Hanna was staying with me and she was terrified – she hasn’t been back here to stay since.

“What made me really angry was that one of them said, in a mocking voice, ‘You are allowed to defend yourself, you know’. But I was panicked and confused.

The thugs obviously know the law… to the letter. And they like it just the way it is.

“I didn’t know what to do or what I should do. To be honest, I’m still not sure where the law stands. Now I keep a rounders bat and a crowbar by the front door. If something like this happens again I will use them, regardless of the consequences. Because of this, I support your campaign.”

Once more, no one knows where the law stands. Including the State. And they like it the way it is. It’s unfortunate that people have to learn who’s responsible for their protection the hard way, and then have to make the decision to damn the consequence of doing what is right rather than what’s legal.

William Rutter, a council worker from Newcastle upon Tyne

On Christmas Day in 2002, Mr Rutter, 54, was subjected to a horrific attack in his home.

He was watching television when masked burglars broke in. They pinned him against a wall, punched him repeatedly, slashed at his chest and hands with Stanley knives and said that if he did not hand over his life savings, they would kill him.

More evidence of how effective those anti-knife laws are. But hey, since their victims aren’t going to have a firearm to defend themselves with, a knife is more than enough weapon, isn’t it?

Mr Rutter was stabbed in the heart and left for dead while the men rifled through his wallet, which contained £40, before heading upstairs to search through his possessions.

Luckily for Mr Rutter the intruders were disturbed by policemen, who had heard sounds coming from the house from their unmarked patrol car. The men were caught as they tried to escape over Mr Rutter’s garden fence.

When Mr Rutter was discharged from hospital, with a foot-long scar on his back and a smaller scar on his chest, it was months before he felt able to return to his home.

Yesterday, he greeted the news of the campaign enthusiastically. “This is good,” he said. “What goes on now is a disgrace.

“My brother and sister and my friends all look out for me. I have a panic button, too.

“Nobody is going to do to me what those people did, ever again.”

Best of luck to you, Mr. Rutter. Sincerely. You probably used most of yours in that first incident, since the cops were on the scene in time to intervene. Next time press the panic button and order a pizza and see who gets there first.

Don’t get me wrong, I am heartened that some of the Brits are starting to understand. Given the level of violent and property crimes there, I’m actually surprised that more of them aren’t pissed off enough to back this, but it does appear that decades of indoctrination has removed that “aggressive edge” from the overwhelming majority of the population, leaving it only in the criminal class.

Remember the distinction: Violent and predatory vs. violent but protective. Britain forgot it. We can’t afford to.

(All emphasis in article is mine.)

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