Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Friday, November 21, 2003

England Slides Further Toward Bondage

Remember the Tytler quote?
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.
Well, it looks like they've taken another step along the path.
Britain OKs Jeopardy Law Reform

The British Parliament on Thursday approved legislation to overturn "double jeopardy" protection for offenses such as murder, rape and armed robbery.

The centuries-old legal rule prevents suspects from being tried twice for a crime, and it is enshrined in the legal codes of many of Britain's former colonies, including the United States.

Under the Criminal Justice Bill, introduced by Prime Minister Tony Blair's government last year, a person acquitted of certain serious offenses, including rape and murder, would face a second trial if compelling new details, such as DNA evidence, come to light.

The legislation, hailed by the government as the biggest reform of Britain's criminal justice system in a generation, now needs only royal assent, which is virtually automatic, before it becomes law.
And why are they doing this? Because England has the highest rate of violent crime in the Western world. Because you are far more likely to be a victim of crime in England than anywhere else in Europe. And why is that? Because Britain's liberal courts don't see the judicial system as a tool for punishing criminals, but treating them. Because the police are overwhelmed and the citizenry is powerless. Because nobody wants to be a witness. It's so bad that the police are not reporting crime in an effort to make things look better than they are. Video surveillance cameras, in an eerie 1984 parallel, are going up all over England - to make the subjects safer, you see. Now they're trying to introduce a national ID card. Individual privacy is becoming a thing of the past - if you're a law-abiding subject.

Here's the image of England today:

Make the People powerless. Make them dependent. Pass more and more and more laws, each stripping the law abiding of more of their rights, all in the name of "public safety." Allow government to acquire more and more power - also in the name of "public safety" - all the while not providing public safety. As Mencken put it:
All government, of course, is against liberty.
and
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
Except in this case, the hobgoblins aren't imaginary, which I think makes it worse.

In my humble opinion, this dates back (at least) to the end of World War I. In 1900 the government of England still trusted the people to be their own guardians. Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the Marquess of Salisbury, said in 1900 that he would "laud the day when there is a rifle in every cottage in England." But in 1903 England passed its first gun control law. A minor one, simply requiring an easily acquired permit to purchase a handgun, and restricting the age of purchasers, but it was the first toe over the slippery slope. In 1919, in fear of anarchists and communists, England passed its first sweeping gun law - as a crime control measure - even though crime involving firearms was rare as hen's teeth. You could only have a handgun or a rifle if you showed "good reason" to have one. (Sound familiar?) So much for "a rifle in every cottage" being a laudable goal. The descent had begun in earnest.

In 1936 short-barreled shotguns and fully-automatic weapons were outlawed - not regulated as they are here, outlawed. The reasoning? Civilians had no "legitimate reason" for owning them. Another slide down the slope. The reasoning had changed from the government needing to show reason for the restrictions to the people needing to show reason to exercise the right, to government telling them that there was no acceptable reason.

The English Bill of Rights stated "That the subjects which are protestants, may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law." Sir William Blackstone, commenting on this in his Commentaries on the Laws of England said:
"THE fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute 1 W. & M. ft. 2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."
Whatever happened to the "natural right of resistance and self-preservation"? Have not the "sanctions of society and laws" been proven "insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression"? And I'm just talking about the criminals, not the government.

In 1936 the British added a "safe storage" requirement for all handguns and rifles. (Sound familiar?)

As a result of the 1920 restrictions, not only didn't England have "a rifle in every cottage," they didn't have many rifles period. In 1940 England was in danger of being invaded and begged America to send it rifles with which to defend its shores. And we, American private citizens, sent them. Rifles, shotguns, and pistols.

But at the end of the war the English didn't get to keep them, and we didn't get them back.

In 1946 self-defense was no longer a "good reason" to have a firearm. The slope got steeper.

In 1953, carrying a weapon for self-defense was made illegal. Any kind of weapon.

In 1967 the law was amended to require a license to own a shotgun, and jury trials no longer required a unanimous decision.

In 1982 reloaders and blackpowder enthusiasts were made subject to police inspection without a warrant to ensure "safe storage" of the reloading materials. In other words, agents of the government, without a warrant, could come into ones home at any time, without warning.

In 1988 all semi-auto and pump-action rifles were banned. By this time there weren't many rifle owners anyway, but that didn't matter. The personal property of law-abiding subjects was, once again, made illegal. And they were all registered - that is, the ones belonging to the law-abiding.

In 1996 all handguns were banned. And they were all registered... Well, you get the point.

Also in 1996, carrying any kind of knife was made illegal - unless you could prove you had a good reason for having it. The presumption of innocence was gone.

Defending yourself in England has become progressively more and more risky, as you stand a very good chance of being prosecuted for use of excessive force. You cannot carry a weapon when out in public, and you cannot use a firearm in self-defense in your home. The law has made crime safe for the criminals. It's no wonder that crime in Britain has been on the climb since the 1950's.

Am I suggesting that this has been some nefarious plan all along to strip the British of their rights and bind them into slavery? No I am not. I'm suggesting that this is a cycle of human behavior - long recognized - that we should be paying attention to and trying to break. We know what government does: it acquires power at the expense of the governed, for good reason or bad. And it does it slowly, almost imperceptibly, because we never believe that each "next step" is leading where we've been told it always leads. "Not this time," we think. "We know better."

Yeah?

Ask the English.

How long before we follow them?