A question was asked over at Quora:
Should the British have the right to carry firearms in self defence like the Americans who have that right? I think Britain would be better off.
Should they have the right? I think, personally, that it should never have been taken from them in the first place – but it was. However, there’s more than just the right involved. With rights come responsibilities, and Jonathan Phillpotts’ answer illustrates this very well. Because the British lost this right so long ago, by and large they no longer have the mental attitude necessary to exercise it. The Britain of the Tottenham Outrage no longer exists.
Mr. Phillpotts took some exception. Here’s our comment exchange (so far):
JP: I disagree. It’s not that we don’t have the mindset to use firearms in our own defence. If our history had parralled yours I would be voicing my whole hearted support for concealed carry. However what my original post is trying to convey is that we have a very different outlook as countries because we have very different histories. We can walk around in our daily life without even considering people around us are carrying. You can’t. That very difference is why you need your guns, and we don’t, to feel safe.
Different mindsets and actions leading to the same feeling of security.
KB: Most defensive gun uses here are against people not armed with a firearm. In the UK this would be considered a “not proportional” response.
Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, provides that “A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime…” and the question of reasonableness is subject to the amplifications contained in such cases as R v McInnes and R v Palmer. It has been held that “if a jury thought that in a moment of unexpected anguish a person attacked had only done what he honestly and instinctively thought was necessary, that would be most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken.” Normally only reasonable force is acceptable but if in the unexpected anguish of the moment excessive force is used it may still be acceptable, if the defendant honestly and instinctively believed it was necessary. It has been long established (prior to either the Criminal Law Act 1967 s 3 or AIDS) that a woman may take the life of a man attempting to rape her, though she may not generally carry a weapon to achieve this.
I ask you: How is a woman to resist to the point of lethality a sexual assault against a (most probably larger, stronger) man without a weapon?
In the UK the law requires a “proportionate response.” This is insane. It asks the assault victim to read the mind of his (or her) attacker, to ask the question of whether that person or persons intends to inflict bodily injury or possibly death so that they can respond proportionally. And the victim’s actions will be judged by a dispassionate court after the fact. That mentality exists throughout your population – that’s how it ended up in law. I’d say the overwhelming majority of gun owners in the UK don’t believe in using a firearm defensively given my interaction with a number of Brits on the subject.
The American mindset (and law) is considerably different, and well described by this quotation from Col. Jeff Cooper:
“One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that ‘violence begets violence.’ I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.”
JP: I can’t deny anything you have said. Especially proportionate response, or reasonable force as it’s called over here, that law, in it’s execution, is a joke. However that doesn’t justify this country arming itself. All that would do is increase the amounts of problems, not reduce them. See the likelihood of being stabbed or assaulted is very low and mostly they just want your wallet or phone. Hardly worth killing, or worse being killed, over. Raise the stakes and the robberies get more violent as the criminal is even more nervous than before. Not to mention that without the right level of training you’re more likely to have the gun taken off you by multiple assailants.
All of that being said; I would like the ability to defend myself (not necessarily with guns though) and have the law back me up if I needed to do so, but that isn’t how our country works. It puts the presumption of guilt on to a person carrying a weapon and wants the Police to enforce the law. And let’s not forget that the majority of our police aren’t even armed with firearms and they actively seek out criminals. If they don’t need guns then the vast majority of civilians don’t either.
KB: I rest my case….