The Carrying of Firearms
To be forearmed is to be ready for all eventualities. Firearms are part of our defence to those who take the law into their own hands.
This is an ancient right in the U.S.A. and many Americans argue for its retention as an article of liberty despite the misuse of those weapons by disturbed and unstable persons within their country. Such persons should not be permitted to carry guns I argue but that does not mean the lawful majority should suffer a truncation of this right to bear arms under licence – however I submit in the States.
Why should anyone outside the police force and armed services and secret services have any right to carry arms in a public place in England as they do in the U.S.A? A motor vehicle is a weapon of destruction yet many are licensed to drive in England. Why not license the bearing of arms in the U.S.A. and thereby protect the public from those who will not use the weapons responsibly? The public have a potential right to carry guns in private and public places in the U.K. that should be strictly regulated as at present. Governments in England have gone a little too far in eliminating this freedom and pastime to be exercised under the licensing regime. I support proper licensing as effective administration of the law relating to guns rather than “running away” from this problem as our rulers have done since Hungerford and Dunblane. They were terrible tragedies but you sanitise our society at grave cost to its soul and liveliness. Hand guns are not permitted anywhere outside the Army not even in the gun clubs. This is overreaction and has circumscribed the freedoms exercised in our gun clubs previously regarding handguns for no good reason. Rifles are permitted under the firearms licensing rules, quite rightly.
3. The American Experience
What may we draw from this story? Unlicensed firearms possession is unforgiveable. An absolute ban on handguns? Again there must be proper licensing. Carrying guns in public for no good cause and discharging them? Again totally unacceptable and to be heavily penalised. Sometimes weapons have to be transported from A to B i.e. they are lawfully used somewhere then taken back to the owner’s base secure for these guns. This must be acceptable. The Americans permit unlicensed and unrestricted carrying of guns – that can never be justified. The protection of the public must come first through licensing administered by the police subject to Crown Court Appeal rights as in England and Wales. The Americans confuse freedom with weaponry. Guns are killers if used mischievously. They believe the citizen has a right to own a gun – in the 19th Century perhaps but nowadays no. There is no innate goodness in a gun the reverse is true. That right must be moderated by Society’s needs and be duly pruned but not destroyed altogether. To permit the all too frequent massacres of the innocent in the U.S.A. by repudiating licensing is obtuse and more than a little careless in lives. No other Western developed nation has such a free for all guns regime. We cannot dictate to the U.S.A. but their blind spot is more than evident. They are a clear example to the world of how not to handle a guns regime. One day they will wake up – the signs are already there. American guns find their way in to the hands of the British criminal classes as the
4. The British Model
A tight ban on handguns and generally very strict licensing. I would argue the firearms (rifle) licensing should be retained (rifle ranges, target shooting static and deer stalking – Scotland). As regards shotguns the present regime works well. The British are a very good example of how to run a gun regulation regime. Why does anyone non-military want to fire a gun? Purely for sport or prevention of crime (the Police). Historically criminals have carried guns: Dick Turpin, Tom King (Highwaymen 18th Century), Bill Sykes (Oliver Twist), Ned Kelly (Australian armed robber), Bonnie and Clyde (Robbers: U.S.A. 1920’s), George Davis (Cockney armed Robber 20th Century). This conduct belies a custom to carry arms for criminal activities which these old fashioned criminals were asserting. This armed robbing has virtually disappeared in England and London.
There was a romance and so called bravado in it which has been crushed. They took a risk for themselves and paid a heavy price – often the gallows e.g. the Highwaymen and likes of Bill Sykes. They were part of an Old England gone for ever. Our gun laws must inevitably stay in place to protect the innocent. We cannot go back to Henry Fielding, Metropolitan Magistrate of Bow Street and the Peelers later. I digress to show there is another side to the coin and not all unlawful carrying of arms is without its appeal albeit very heavily tinged with Judicial disapproval and punishment. The gallows were not in any way romantic despite the famous last words.
To kill or maim with a gun is not in any circumstances excusable. The simplest method is with a gun e.g. President Kennedy, Yitzhak Rabin, Martin Luther King, Governor George Wallace and Pope John Paul II. The bomb method failed with Hitler – no one dared fire the gun. It takes courage to pull the trigger without doubt – there is no going back and the perpetrator risks capture, prosecution and punishment. Gun Law – the rule of the gun is anarchy and we believe in law and order in our democratic societies. Anarchy is the antithesis of Christian living. May guns never be permitted to rule any part of our land and people. May we all live peaceably and those entitled to possess guns look after them properly in conjunction with our excellent Metropolitan Police force in London with its Commissioner. The death of a policeman by gunfire is rare but we must be prepared to hit back at the culprits. My views on that subject are well known and require no repetition or amplification. I argue without the British Police we would be defenceless in the face of that gun blast, they deserve our full support for doing a very trying job in highly dangerous circumstances. They are prepared to do all that is expected of them and we should be very thankful for that.