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

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Some Other Results of My Research

The piece on self-defense in the UK was long enough by itself, but I found quite a few pieces I didn't want to just leave out. I'll just put them here for your reading enjoyment RCOB experience.

First, let's take a look at how the British police are handling crime. First up, a story from 2002 that shows that the cops understand implicitly what their limitations are, and just who they can and can't intimidate:
Police fail to stop rave

A Lincolnshire farmer has accused police of failing to stop illegal ravers from taking over his sheds on New Year's Eve.

David Benton, of Moorby, said about 70 revellers smashed down his farm gate, drove a lorry-load of disco equipment onto this property and set fire to pallets.

He called Lincolnshire Police, who sent two officers, but said ravers could not be evicted because there were fewer than 100 trouble-makers involved.

Mr Benton, 44, said: "I will defend my property, and I will use violence if I have to if this happens again. The police have already said they will arrest me if I do."

'Totally irresponsible'

"Anybody must be able to defend their own property."

"It was like being a farmer in Zimbabwe - the police stood outside the gate while inside people were smashing up my property and they were doing nothing about it."

Lincolnshire Police said officers could only intervene to break up rave parties if certain criteria were met.

Inspector John Ginty stressed: "The law states that there must be more than 100 people in the open air, causing a public disruption - those conditions were not met in this case.
They weren't in the "open air" because they were in David Benton's BARN.

That's enough of that. You read the rest.

Then there's this lovely bit of news from December of 2003:
Don't bother about burglary, police told

Police have been ordered not to bother investigating crimes such as burglary, vandalism and assaults unless evidence pointing to the culprits is easily available, The Telegraph can reveal.

Under new guidelines, officers have been informed that only "serious" crimes, such as murder, rape or so-called hate crimes, should be investigated as a matter of course.

In all other cases, unless there is immediate and compelling evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA material, the crime will be listed for no further action.

The new "crime screening" guidelines were quietly introduced in the Metropolitan Police area last month and similar measures are being brought into effect by forces across Britain as pressure grows on senior officers to maintain a tighter control over budgets.

A Met spokesman confirmed that "less serious crimes" would now only be investigated if they were considered to be "solvable using proportionate resources", or were part of a current crackdown on specific offences. He said: "It might mean that people who have had their bikes stolen from outside a shop might not get any investigation into it. It is looking at the high priorities for crime in the community."

The Met's policy document states that when crimes are of a less serious nature and there are no "special factors", such as a particularly vulnerable victim, they will now be logged but not solved.
That might help explain this story from May of 2003:
Misery of couple 'burgled 192 times'

A couple say they have become prisoners in their own home after being burgled 192 times in four years.

Rita Redfarn and Bruce Charter, of Earith, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, say they fell prey to burglars for the 192nd time after leaving their house unattended for the first time since the New Year.

"We decided to go out for two hours and obviously were being watched or had been seen in the local pub," Ms Redfarn said.

"It's just been hell here for four years."

Since 1999 property worth hundreds of thousands of pounds has been taken from the couple's £475,000 Victorian house, its two-acre garden and outbuildings.

Jewellery worth up to £7,000 was taken in the latest raid alone.

The couple can no longer get insurance cover.
I'd imagine not. There's a bit more to the story, but here's the kicker:
Police Inspector Richard Douce, said: "Officers in Ely are aware of the continued problems at the address in Earith and have worked with Mr Charter in the past to look at the security at his house and outbuildings.

"Over the next week officers will be reviewing the problem, which will include drawing up a new action plan - in conjunction with Mr Charter - to tackle the problem."
After four years and 192 incidents. I'm sure Mr. Charter is greatly relieved.

Of most everything he owns.

But here the police are on top of the job! Someone might be defending themselves! Can't have that!
Police swoop on 4ft 10in granny

A DISABLED grandmother who tried to film yobs terrorising her neighbourhood was ordered out of her home by a police Swat team who suspected she was armed and dangerous.

Terrified Maureen Jennings, who is only 4ft 10in tall, received a call from a police negotiator at 1.30 am telling her to look out of the window of her bungalow.

A police Armed Response Unit had surrounded the house and Mrs Jennings, who suffers from a chronic heart condition and diabetes, was told to put her hands in the air and step outside while police searched her home.

"I could have had a heart attack and dropped dead on the spot", she said today.

"I opened the door with my hands in the air and four big policemen and two policewomen came in. I explained it was a camera and I was taking photographs of what had been going on on the estate.

"I am a four and half foot tall midget, and I am disabled and they asked me if I had any weapons in the house. The next day a police constable spoke to me and said that they usually just burst into the house but that they had checked me out and because I'd never been in trouble with the police they decided to ring me first."

The drama began after Mrs Jennings, 50, had used a digital camera with an infra-red directional beam to film youths who have made her life a misery for the past two years.

She has regularly complained to police about the gang on The Moss estate in Macclesfield but claims that officers rarely bother to investigate.

Terrible

But when police received a tip-off that Mrs Jennings was armed, the force's Armed Response Unit immediately went into action.

Mrs Jennings has been using the camera after a string of complaints to police failed to stop the gang terrorising the neighbourhood.

The gang congregate most nights on her garden steps and at a phone box opposite her home. She suspects they are responsible for vandalising her car.

"It is terrible living here," she said. "We've all had enough and I can't sleep at night."

"I have had them boozing and taking drugs on my front steps. I can't take this anymore. Doctors have sent notes to the council because of what it is doing to my health. But nothing ever happens.

"I love my bungalow but I want out of this estate. It is ruining my life."

Macclesfield police said several youths had been "grounded" by parents after officers visited. Some have been threatened with Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and one faces an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

"The Moss Estate area was given special attention by officers during the days following the incident and several of the young people involved, and their parents have been spoken to," the officer said.

Senior Housing Officer Richard Christopherson was confident that the troubles on the Moss would be resolved.

He said: "I would very much like to go speak to this lady. If she can give some descriptions of these people I am sure we will be able to identify them. What we are doing is looking at the gang and finding out about the ringleaders and building up our evidence."
This story would almost, almost be funny, except for these two stories that show that the behavior of these "youths" is hardly unusual:
Yobs drove man to kill himself

The widow of a disabled man who killed himself after being repeatedly attacked by young yobs at his Midland home last night backed calls for a "Tony Martin's Law".

Teenage hooligans terrorised Martin James, 64, so many times that he eventually fired an air rifle at them to scare them off - and landed himself in trouble.

Instead of tackling the louts, who had also vandalised his property, police threatened the despairing householder with prosecution for daring to use the firearm.

Days later Mr James hanged himself in his garden shed after leaving wife Angela a note bearing a heart-breaking message that summed up his misery.

"I'm sorry," he wrote. "The kids have beaten me."

At the inquest into his death, coroner Alan Crickmore said that "a campaign of torment" had led Mr James to take his own life last August.

--

Angela met her husband, a retired demolition contractor, while using Citizens Band radio. They were married for 13 years but the constant harassment from youths put an enormous strain on Mr James.

"Every night they were there," said former British Telecom worker Angela. "They used to shout abuse and throw stones at our windows.

"There's a cemetery at the back of our house. They used to hang out there and shine torches into Martin's bedroom at night.

"Once they tied a fishing line and hooks to our door handle. I didn't realise and I went to grab it as usual, I felt something sharp on my knuckle.

"They knew that they could wind Martin up. He just wouldn't stand for their loutish behaviour.

"The police didn't help. He even went to the parents of the yobs but they said there was nothing they could do."

--

Angela recalled how her husband had picked up the airgun to defend their property.

"Martin shot at them with an air rifle a week before he died," she said. "He aimed it above their heads so it wouldn't hit them.

"But the police later told him that he could be prosecuted.

--

Gloucestershire Police said they sympathised with Mrs James and said they had offered her husband advice on how to deal with anti-social behaviour.

Chief Insp David Peake said: "We take all such calls seriously and will investigate incidents that are reported to us."
Investigate, but do nothing to stop it.

Nor is this the first case like this. Here's another:
Let the force be with the good guys...please

What are people to do if the police can’t help them to solve major problems of lawlessness affecting their lives? Sometimes, desperation forces them to take matters into their own hands.

Bill Clifford, a 77-year-old war veteran tormented for months by local yobs who banged on his door, threw stones at his windows and shoved eggs through his letter box, eventually brandished a toy pistol at them to try to scare them into leaving him alone.

The police, who according to his brother had earlier told him that they couldn’t do anything unless Mr Clifford caught the youngsters up to their mischief, did something now. They arrested Mr Clifford and charged him.


The day before he was due to appear in court, he hanged himself in the kitchen of his one-bedroomed housing association home.

Residents of the Oxmoor estate in Huntingdon decided last Sunday afternoon that they’d had enough of the problems caused by drug dealers and addicts. They were sick of dealing taking place in public, and of discarded needles lying about the place posing a threat to their children.

“The police know it’s going on but they don’t seem bothered,” one woman told a reporter after the estate erupted into a six-hour riot.

For once, the police turned up on the estate in force. Sixty officers were called in to tackle the mob, arrest a dozen troublemakers and escort the dealers to safety.

“While we recognise the residents’ concerns and are willing to work with them, it is clearly not appropriate for them to engage in this type of behaviour,” a police spokesman warned afterwards.

And I agree. Vigilante behaviour is the start of a very slippery and dangerous slope. But I ask again, what are people supposed to do if the police won’t or can’t protect them?

If the police had acted sooner to sort out the drugs menace on the Oxmoor estate, there would have been no need for the residents to riot.

If the police had acted to protect Bill Clifford from the tearaways who were making his life such a misery, he would have had no need to try to see off the yobs with a toy pistol and would be alive now, enjoying the rest of his days in the peace which should be everyone’s right.

The police are undermanned. There is no doubt about that. They need a huge boost to their resources and I for one would have no objection to paying extra taxes to help fund it.

But they only deserve it if they’re prepared, even with the limited resources they currently have, to show more enthusiasm for looking after law-abiding citizens when they ask for their help, and less for protecting the bad guys when the long-suffering good guys finally start to stick up for themselves.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Oh, and remember the bit about women having the inherent right to kill a rapist? Well, they really shouldn't, according to this piece:
Advice to resist sex attackers may make it worse, rape charity warns

A charity caring for rape victims warned yesterday that advice in Cosmopolitan to fight back when attacked could leave women with more injuries than offering no resistance.
"Sometimes it is far better just to let it happen and then deal with the aftermath," said Helen Jones, co-chairwoman of the Rape Crisis Federation.

She was responding to a report in the magazine of a study by US researchers who examined 1.5m cases over a decade. They found that women who offered resistance were much more likely to get away, and that whether or not women resisted a rapist had no bearing on the level of injuries they received.

They also suggested that the first five minutes of an attack were decisive, and found the best response was to go for "pain receptive targets" in an attempt to disable the attacker for as long as possible. "There are, of course, no guarantees, but one thing seems clear - it is worth fighting back," the magazine concluded.

Ms Jones, a criminologist, said that the article could leave women who had been raped feeling guilty and responsible for what had happened, because they had done nothing to beat off the attack.

"It could also increase the potential for women being harmed," she added. "It is not always right to fight back. There is a phrase put around that rape is a fate worse than death. Of course it is not.

"Every case is different, and women can only assess each particular situation and the likely danger to them if they do resist. Doing that in a split second is extremely difficult."

The magazine report suggested that effective defences included poking fingers or thumbs hard into eyes or throat, pulling hair, pulling fingers back to break, and squeezing or kicking the groin.

Self-defence tutor Floyd Brown, quoted in the magazine, said: "Remember, you are trying to maximise your safety margin. You want to disable the attacker for as long as possible while you escape."

Scott Lindquist, author of the Date Rape Prevention Book, added: "Trust your instincts. If one tactic isn't working, try another."

The report said: "Some rapists will stop when forced into adult reasoning mode and faced with the consequences of their actions. Tell him this is rape, someone will find him, he will go to prison. Other methods are throwing the rapist off guard by faking an epileptic fit or pretending to faint or urinating, defecating or sticking fingers down the throat to induce vomiting as few people can stand the smell."

Since 1985 recorded rapes in Britain have risen threefold. In 1999 the Rape Crisis Federation received 50,000 calls, yet it estimates only 6% of these women reported the assaults to the police.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Webster, of the Metropolitan police steering group on sexual offences, said that women who were attacked could go "as far as is necessary". He said: "By law you have a basic right to defend yourself with 'reasonable means', and if the crime is rape, you can defend yourself well." He recommended all women attend a self-defence course to give them the confidence to respond quickly.
No, according to the law if the crime is rape you can defend yourself with lethal force - but apparently you're limited to using "adult reasoning" and "poking fingers or thumbs hard into eyes or throat, pulling hair, pulling fingers back to break, and squeezing or kicking the groin," none of which - last I checked - were particularly lethal.

And now let's skip to the subject of gun control in the UK, shall we? The most recently passed piece of legislation banned a certain type of "easily convertible" airgun. Yet guns, and more lethal weapons, seem pretty easy to get anyway. Here's a case where a guy was machine-gunned to death, not that this was necessarily a bad thing:
Shot man was teen rapist

The young dad gunned down on a city street was a convicted rapist, the Evening Mail can reveal today.

Dad-of-two Mohammed Sabir was involved in the gang rape of a young woman in front of her baby when he was just 15 years old. People who knew about his evil past today declared: "We are not going to mourn his death."

Sabir was riddled with bullets as he stood chatting with pals in Lozells Road on Monday night.

The 22-year-old died despite a nurse, known only as Elizabeth, giving first aid as he lay on the pavement.

A post-mortem examination revealed Sabir, who had a one-year-old daughter and a son aged four, had been hit several times in the head and chest, possibly with a mini sub-machine gun.

Police today declined to disclose his previous convictions but have already confirmed that Sabir, who lived in Lozells with his parents and young family, was known to them before he died.
And machineguns aren't all that uncommon, even though they've been banned since the 1930's. Not heavily regulated, like they are here, but completely banned:
GANG HAD MACHINE GUN

Three members of a suspected Yardie hit team who were caught with a lethal machine gun and military hardware face years behind bars.

Marvin Herbert, 30, Darryl Hewitt, 32, and Paul Murdoch, 32, were spotted by police throwing a fully-loaded Ingram machine gun and silencer over a garden wall.


Officers found the gang were also equipped with body armour, balaclavas and high-tech radio scanners programmed to listen in to police frequencies.

US Army weapon

The Ingram, a US Army issue weapon capable of firing a devastating 20 rounds a second, had its safety catch off.

Woolwich Crown Court heard the trio were stopped by police after being spotted acting suspiciously in Hargrave Park, Holloway, north London in the early hours of August 1 last year.

Mark Rainsford, prosecuting, said: "The police driver noticed that the three men stopped whatever they had been doing.

"One of the men was seen to throw a large dark object over a wall into a garden."

Stolen Mercedes

Police officers detained them and after a search, discovered the gang had dropped three balaclavas and a set of keys to a stolen Mercedes parked nearby.

The lethal machine gun was also loaded with extra-heavy Israeli-issue 'blue-tip' bullets.

They are specially designed to travel slower than the speed of sound so they do not cause a 'gun crack' sound when fired.

Herbert and Murdoch were both wearing bullet-proof body armour.
Go read the rest. Ignore the photo - that's not an Ingram, and, to my knowledge, the Ingram has never been a "US Army issue weapon."

I've covered other stories of machine-guns in England, too. There's this story of an intercepted shipment of Uzi submachineguns, and here's one about an honest-to-jebus LMG found in a London raid. Here's one where a gang went on a 'shooting rampage' across London with an SMG. There are more, but you get the idea.

Here's one that's a bit of a shocker. In addition to all the American, Israeli, and East European hardware being smuggled across the water, it seems there's a market for personal explosives, as poor Mrs. Ester Jonas discovered when someone lobbed a hand grenade into her home and took her leg. This guy was lucky - he just found one in the road. Where it came from, no one is saying. Here they found a live grenade in a railway tunnel. Of course, you don't have to import them if you can get them domestically while you're out for a beer.

But, machineguns and hand grenades aside, it doesn't seem all that difficult to get a shotgun. Or a handgun.

Because gun crime in the UK has been on the rise, according to this Telegraph piece, the money quote being:
Firearms offences in England and Wales rose from 13,874 in 1998-99 to 24,070 in 2002-03. Recorded crimes involving imitation weapons trebled from 566 to 1,815 during that period.

A separate report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, also published yesterday, showed that two thirds of gun crime was concentrated in London, Birmingham and Manchester, though it has spread to a number of other areas.
Response? Ban some airguns! This piece from October of last year puts some perspective on the problem:
We are overrun by gun crime, says police chief

A chief Constable admitted yesterday that his officers are being forced to ignore thousands of burglaries, thefts and car crimes because they are swamped by increasing drug and gun violence.

The public's perception that the police were not interested in low-level and non-violent crime was underlined when Steve Green, Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire police, said there was not enough money or officers available to investigate all crime.

The emergence of Britain's drug and gun culture had impacted on his force to such an extent that "something had to give".
Yes, Britain's draconian gun laws have worked so well in keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals the law abiding.

But this opinion piece said something I think illustrates a significant part of the problem, and I will close this post with it:
"There Was Violence Used"

For today’s liberals, crime is like the weather—it has nothing to do with human agency.

In March (2003), thieves broke into the home of Mrs. Adu-Mensah, an 83-year-old Ghanaian woman living in South London. Not content with stealing her property, they bound her hand and foot, suffocating her to death, and then set her body alight. The Independent, one of the newspapers favored by Britain’s liberal intelligentsia, reported without comment that the police were investigating the possibility that the crime was “a break-in that went wrong.” I couldn’t help thinking of the way surgical procedures with fatal outcomes used to be described: the operation was a success, but the patient died. In this case, the burglary was a success, but the householder died.

In the Independent’s report, we see how deeply and unconsciously entrenched a perverted way of thinking has become in the minds of much of the British establishment. Thugs break into an old lady’s home and murder her in the most brutal way imaginable, and the police consider her death as an unintended consequence of a normal and even acceptable event, a kind of meteorological freak accident that occurred without the intervention of human agency. A journalist, almost certainly a university graduate, accepts this without demur, because it happily coincides with his newspaper’s liberal outlook. It was not the burglars that killed Mrs. Adu-Mensah, but the burglary. A cold front brings us bad weather; a burglary brings us a charred corpse.

If caught, the perpetrators of this horrible crime will no doubt also claim that the crime went wrong, that unexpected circumstances somehow perverted their good intentions: their burglary having a kind of Platonic existence independent of their decision to commit it. In like fashion, violent men and women are likely to say that their relationships went wrong, as if relationships existed independently of how people behave toward one another. Last week, I asked a man who was complaining that his wife had deserted him whether he had ever been violent toward her.

“Yes,” he said. “There was violence used” - used, no doubt, in the course of an argument that went wrong.

Of course, man has always sought to distance himself from responsibility for his own wrongdoing by ascribing it to forces beyond his control. Is there, in fact, a man alive who has never done so? Four centuries ago, Shakespeare remarked upon the “admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star.”

What is relatively new, however, is the willingness, even eagerness, with which intellectuals endorse, promote, and validate the admirable evasion. Murders are now committed by burglaries, not by murderous burglars. Not all men are whoremasters, of course: but all too many of our intelligentsia are.
And it's bled down from the intelligentsia. Now juries can decide, 10-2, that someone who has acted defensively in the insanity of defending one's family from an intruder, that "excessive force" was used, and the defender is guilty of manslaughter.

Hindsight being 20/20, of course.

The (considerably less than) Million Moms chanted at their first (and only) big rally: "England can do it! Australia can do it! We can too!"

Not if I have any say in the matter.
As They Say in the Northeast: "Ayup."

Compare and Contrast

On the evening of May 17, a Pizza Hut delivery driver shot a robber - between 10 and 15 times. ("Why did you shoot fifteen times?" "That's all there were in the magazine!") He then picked up his assailant's firearm and drove to his place of business where he had his supervisor call the police.

On Friday, May 28, the prosecutor's office ruled that the shooting - and the subsequent actions of the shooter - were justified.

Contrast that to the piece two posts down. No charges of murder filed for "unreasonable force." No seven-week investigation. The shooter had a licensed firearm. His assailant had an unlicensed one. The shooter wasn't attacked in his home, but on the street - where, if you're in England, you're prohibited from carrying any sort of "offensive" weapon. If you actually obey the law, that is.

Now, do you think pizza delivery drivers in Indiannapolis will be more or less safe for a while?

Of course, this is just another example of the "blood in the streets" predicted by the anti-concealed carry crowd, right? Just one more example of how carrying a gun is useless, won't make you safer, and only endangers innocent people.

Right?

Damn it's tough being a "gullible gunner," but I agree with Ronald Honeycutt, the shooter who lost his job because Pizza Hut requires its delivery people to be unarmed:
Honeycutt said he was fired from his job because he had violated the store policy against carrying a gun, which he was licensed to carry.

"It's my life. I choose which policy to follow."
That's what free people do. And that's what a free society defends.

Hat tip, Kim

Sunday, May 30, 2004

In Memoriam

This reminded me of a M*A*S*H episode - on of the early ones - where Henry Blake told Hawkeye - "The first thing they teach you in command school is that the first rule of war is 'Young Men Die.'"

John Donovan has the story of 2nd Leutenant Leonard Cowherd, one most appropriate for this weekend.

That is all.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, In Conclusion...


I and Tim Lambert, professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales, Australia and author of the blog Deltoid, have been having an ongoing discussion over self-defense in the UK starting back in March. The debate began over a news piece that stirred the outrage of those of us Tim calls "gullible gunners." Here's that piece, published in the UK paper, The Scotsman, in its entirety:
Man Who Killed Armed Intruder Jailed Eight Years

By Will Batchelor, PA News

A man who stabbed to death an armed intruder at his home was jailed for eight years today.

Carl Lindsay, 25, answered a knock at his door in Salford, Greater Manchester, to find four men armed with a gun.

When the gang tried to rob him he grabbed a samurai sword and stabbed one of them, 37-year-old Stephen Swindells, four times.

Mr Swindells, of Salford, was later found collapsed in an alley and died in hospital.

Lindsay, of Walkden, was found guilty of manslaughter following a three-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Sam Haworth said: “Four men, including the victim, had set out purposefully to rob Carl Lindsay and this intent ultimately led to Stephen Swindells’ death.

“I believe the sentences passed today reflect the severity of the circumstances.”

Three other men were charged with robbery and firearms offences in connection with the incident, which took place in February last year.
The reaction of several of us was commented on in Tim's initial post on the subject, Gullible Gunners. Tim commented, in part:
Pro-gunners such as John Lott, Glenn Reynolds and John Derbyshire have written about the Martin case, apparently unaware of the facts that showed that the killing was not in self defence, and proceeded to make bogus claims that self defence was against the law in Britain. Claims which they have never bothered to correct.

--

Now, there are two possible explanations for Lindsay’s conviction:

The jury knew more facts that those which appeared in the brief story and these showed that the killing was not in self defence.

Self defence is illegal in the UK.
The reaction from bloggers was swift and extensive. At the time of writing, Technorati reports 61 blogs linking to the story, all going for explanation 2, none even considering the possibility that the killing was not self defence.
Note that Tim doesn't wonder why 61 out of 61 blogs choose option 2 - to him it's obvious that we're all just "gullible gunners" and there is no prior evidence that would lead us to believe that "self defence is illegal in the UK," this story being only the latest example. No, we're obviously just leaping to conclusions based on our inherent pro-gun bias. (What that bias indicates, I leave to you, the jury.)

Tim noted that further details emerged indicating that perhaps this was not merely a case of self-defense. That, in fact, Carl Lindsay had pursued his attackers into a hallway and had stabbed Stephen Swindells in the back four times, thus prompting the murder charge. Instead, the jury found him guilty of manslaughter for an act of retaliation against the men robbing him.

I was one of those who posted on the story. In my piece I said:
The Next Time Someone Tells You that Self-Defense isn't Illegal in the UK, (for all intents and purposes,)...
And pointed to the Scotsman story. I then added, after the additional details were brought out:
However, were you a reader of this story - provided without nuance - would you not draw the conclusion that defending yourself against attack is legally risky?

That's my point - the general public in the UK is actively discouraged from self-defense, in fear of prosecution.

"You can't protect yourself! You're not qualified!"
The following week Tim posted his first piece, and I began the debate with him in the comments to that piece.

In response to that initial post by Tim I made this point:
[T]here have been numerous cases of the British courts charging people for defending themselves. The law there seems to be one based on "proportional response" - e.g., stabbing someone who isn't armed with a weapon is "excessive force." So is bashing them over the head with a brick. There are many of these cases, and they've lead us to the conclusion that private citizens in Britain had best not resist attack, or face prosecution for usurping the authority of the State in its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. My primary objection to the news story was that it reinforces that conclusion. If you are a reader of that story, ignorant as to the details, in combination with all the other similar stories of people prosecuted after defending themselves, the message is "don't resist, you'll go to jail."
In a later comment, I added:
You object to our near unanimous conclusion that "self defense in the UK is illegal," poo-pooing it as "gullible," but for all practical purposes that assertion is true. Stories like the Scotsman piece reinforce that understanding. All it said was (in abbreviated form) "One man attacked by four. One of the four had a gun. Man defended himself with a sword, killing one of the four. Defender sentenced to eight years." When faced by four attackers, one armed with a firearm, it seems the "instinctive" reaction the government wants is for the victim to curl into a ball and surrender. Any other action is deemed "antisocial," apparently.
Tim and I (and others) continued this debate over the course of the next couple of months. Tim posted a follow-on piece, Gullible Gunners, Again in response to my comments in which he states:
Baker continued to insist that self defence was illegal in practice in the UK. His argument was that England’s “laws concerning weapons make self-defense, for all intents and purposes, a lost cause”. His argument is badly wrong for two reasons.
1. Using a weapon is not the only way to defend yourself.

2. If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed.
My response was a post of my own. Tim responded in the comments of Gullible Gunners, Again, where he said:
As far as I can tell, American pro-gunners are constantly on the lookout for news stories about how terrible things are in the UK. So far they have found a total of exactly zero cases where someone has genuinely acted in self-defence and been convicted of (or even prosecuted for) a crime. That's zero. But you seem to think that it happens all the time.
and
Next we come to your bizarre misreading of my statement:
"If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed."
You claimed that I was somehow saying that "Honest citizens should never use a weapon in self defense" even though I wasn't and insisted that was the only possible meaning even though I had written nothing the slightest bit even remotely like that. Consider two scenarios:
1. Attacker has a gun. Defender does not.

2. Attacker does not have a gun. Defender doesn't either.
Self defence is possible in the second scenario while it isn't in the first one. Is that clear now?
One of my commenters, Sarah, rephrased Tim's statement thus:
If the law disarms citizens, then it can make self defence impossible where it would have been possible if the citizen was armed.
That about covers that.

I responded here. You can see this exchange has been quite involved. (I doubt many people have bothered to read this far, though I'm sure this post will draw some comments. If you really have struggled through to read to this point, please, let me know.)

Tim then posted his third piece, Gullible Gunners, Part 3 on May 4. In that piece he states:
He (that would be me) has “spent a considerable amount of time trying to do archive research through UK online newspapers for stories on self defense”, and found not one story where someone was prosecuted for defending themselves. So where do we stand here? Despite strenous efforts, we have not one case where the British courts have charged someone for defending themselves. All we have is two cases (Lindsay and Martin) where the killing was not self-defence, but were presented by pro-gunners to make it look like it was.
Now, if you've taken the hour or two necessary to slog through this entire discussion; links, comments, etc., to this point, I applaud you. There are probably forty-thousand words or more to this point, and we rambled on over a fairly wide variety of topics. But it all comes down to the original point: Is self defense in the UK legal in practice? I've already noted that it is legal by statute, but I have held that prosecution of what appears to we "gullible gunners" open-and-shut cases of self defense in fact proves that the State does not uphold the idea that violence in self defense is acceptable. Tim claims that I have found "not one story where someone was prosecuted for defending themselves," "...we have not one case where the British courts have charged someone for defending themselves."

There's that tricky semantics question again. Just what constitutes "prosecution for self defense?" I imagine Tim's definition is considerably more strict than mine. I did, in fact, point to this story in which a wheelchair-bound man used teargas to defend himself against a mugger. Teargas is considered an "offensive weapon" in the UK and is illegal (for a subject) to possess. The man was charged for possession of the teargas, but not, apparently, for using it. Was he "prosecuted for self defense"? I think so. Tim probably would not. I think that New York resident Ronald Dixon was "prosecuted for self defense" when he was charged with having an unlicensed firearm after he used that firearm in self defense. I think that Cook County Illinois showed decency and good sense when it chose NOT to prosecute Hale DeMar for the same "crime" when he used his handgun in self defense.

Now, consider those two American cases. In both, the home of the gun owner was invaded by a man. The owner did not know if the invader was armed, but in both cases the owner used deadly force against the intruder. In neither case was the owner charged for the use of deadly force, but only risked prosecution for having a weapon he was not legally entitled to have. It was patently obvious to the investigators that an intruder was in the home, and it was patently obvious that the homeowner had the right to use lethal force against the intruder. In both cases the intruder could have died. Contrast that to the case of Thomas O'Connor, a 63 year-old nearly blind man whose home was invaded by a 23 year-old man who broke the front door in, knocking it off the hinges and out of its frame. Mr. O'Connor grabbed a knife and stabbed the invader, giving him a fatal wound. Mr. O'Connor then suffered through a seven week murder investigation before the Crown decided not to prosecute because - and I quote - "[I]t is not believed we would be able to disprove a case of self defence against [this man]."

Still, it seems from Tim's writing that if I could come up with just one example of the government prosecuting someone for an obvious case of self defense, I would prove my point that government discourages the act of self defense by making it legally risky to do so. I promised that I would do more research and respond.

Well, I have, and this is it. (Hell of a prologue, no?)

First, let me go back again to the comments in Tim's posts. A couple of cases were brought up that Tim decided were at best inconclusive. The first was the case of Mark Barnsley, and second was that of Satpal (or Saptal, depending) Ram. Tim didn't comment on the Mark Barnsley case, but concluded based on this page that the Ram case couldn't be self defense because Mr. Ram had apparently also stabbed someone in the back. It's been said that on the internet anyone can write anything, so I'm not exactly certain why that one page makes Mr. Ram's claims of self-defense invalid. According to this Guardian article Mr. Ram was supposedly assaulted by a man using a broken glass as a weapon. His crime was apparently not backing down and being a good (read "meek") subject in the face of racism. Mr. Ram defended himself against attack, got a lousy lawyer, and received a life sentence. Hmm... So which version is true? You be the jury.

The case of Mark Barnsley seems less ambivalent to me. He was attacked by a group of as many as 15 drunken college students, and defended himself while receiving a severe beating. He, according to the story, picked up a knife dropped by one of his attackers and hung onto it during the attack to keep from having it used against him. Some of his attackers received wounds. Mr. Barnsley was the only person charged. What's the truth? I don't know, but I know what it looks like from what I've been able to read. I'll leave it to those interested to do the research for themselves, and again be the jury.

I've spent quite a few hours scouring the various UK newspaper online versions for stories of self defense. I have reached one fairly strong conclusion - either it doesn't happen much in the UK, or the papers simply won't report it unless it's a spectacular case. However, if someone is severely injured or killed, it is apparent to me that the Crown will file a charge unless, as it was in the case of Mr. O'Connor, it is blindingly obvious (no pun intended) that they cannot disprove self defense.

I said early on that self defense was legally risky in the UK because by exercising your right you run the very real risk of being prosecuted. That legal risk has a chilling effect on the exercise of the purported right. So let's look at a couple of examples I found.

First, there's the 2002 case of Barry-Lee Hastings, who was cleared of a murder charge, but convicted in a 10-2 jury decision of manslaughter and sent to jail for five years. (Tony Martin was found guilty of murder in a 10-2 jury decision as well.) This case has very much in common with the one that started all of this. Mr. Hastings, visiting the home of his estranged wife, found one Roger Williams burglarizing the home. Mr. Hastings, unaware that his wife and children were not at home, grabbed a bread knife from the kitchen and attempted to intervene in the belief that the burglar was armed with a machete and that his wife and children were at risk. Mr. Williams was stabbed 12 times - in the back - and died of his wounds. Here's what the prosecutor said:
"The law recognises a man is entitled to defend himself, his family and his property - only if his action does not go beyond the reasonable and the necessary.

"There is no doubt Mr Hastings stumbled across a burglary. There is no doubt that Roger Williams was a thoroughly bad hat in the eyes of the law.

"But, none the less, as a human being he is just as entitled to the freedom to live as anyone else. We argue that in this case, alas, this man overstepped the mark and went some distance beyond that."
But here's what the law says, as provided to me by Tim Lambert:
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.
A fact that renders the right to use lethal force essentially meaningless, but I digress.
When a defendant deliberately used a lock knife he had opened prior to an incident, and stabbed an assailant after the defendant had received a single blow to the face, it was held that this could not possibly be reasonable.

On the other hand, if a plea of self-defence is raised when the defendant had acted under a mistake as to the facts, he must be judged according to his mistaken belief of the facts regardless of whether, viewed objectively, his mistake was reasonable. So where a policeman shot dead a man who was unarmed and had already surrendered he was still entitled to claim his action was self-defence if he honestly believed this to be the situation. The test is whether his action was reasonable in the situation as he perceived it, rather than as it actually was.
Note, it's apparently OK for cops to shoot people they believe to be armed, but not for people to stab - in the back - people they believe to be a danger. Now, contrast this case to the Hale DeMar and Ronald Dixon cases. In both of those cases the homeowner shot the intruder - a definite use of lethal force - yet neither was charged with attempted homicide or excessive use of force or anything having to do with the woundings. It was, to Americans, an absolute case of righteous self defense. In the case of Mr. Hastings, he believed that his wife and children were at home and at risk, and he attacked to protect them. Yes, the burglar was stabbed in the back. So? If you're grappling with an attacker with a knife in your hand, where is the blade going to go? Mr. Hastings' lawyer said:
"We are shocked by the verdict. The evidence clearly showed that Barry-Lee Hastings acted in self-defence. Most people will recognise that the verdict today represents an appalling miscarriage of justice and flies in the face of common sense."
Apparently he's another "gullible gunner."

Then there's this case from 2000 in which a homeowner beat the snot out of a burglar wth a baseball bat.
A judge yesterday reignited the debate over the law on self-defence by asserting that a householder who repeatedly beat a burglar with a metal baseball bat had been using "reasonable force".

David Summers, 21, a drug addict, suffered a broken wrist, fractured elbow, cracked ribs and a cracked skull. He had broken into the Peterborough home of Lee Gapper, 20, and his lodger George Goodayle, 21, both self-employed builders.

--

Mr Gapper and Mr Goodayle were arrested by Cambridgeshire police and held for 12 hours. The crown prosecution service decided not to bring charges against them.

Last week the Tory leader, William Hague, said the law on self-defence should be changed to give greater protection to people who were forced to defend their homes against intruders. He was accused of trying to exploit public outrage at the murder conviction of the Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, who shot dead a teenage burglar.
Gee, ya THINK? Still, they weren't actually charged.

And there's this case from 2003 in which an evil rich capitalist company director was charged with manslaughter in the death of a burglar. Acting as temporary night watchman, one Steven Parkin intervened in an attempt to steal a truck from his business, using a pickaxe handle and, supposedly, a knife with which he slashed the man across the back of the knee. However,
Judge Richard Pollard directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty after a pathologist told the court he could not rule out the possibility death was caused by an accident.
Sounds like Mr. Parkin dodged a bullet, so to speak. But he was definitely charged and tried.

Still, there's other good news. In this case homeowner John Lambert (any relation?) was cleared by a jury in a case where he stabbed a burglar to death. Apparently this time the burglar wasn't stabbed in the back. Still, Mr. Lambert was held for two days before being released on bail prior to the inquiry that found his action to be defensive. I'd find that idea chilling - that for defending my wife and home I had to spend two nights in jail.

But this is all so confusing, isn't it? Well, this BBC piece from January 2003 says yes:
MP calls self-defence laws unclear

A Norfolk MP has said people are not sure what they are allowed to do to protect themselves and their property from burglars.

Henry Bellingham, a Conservative representing north west Norfolk, told the Commons the law should be made clear.

He said: "If lawyers, safe in their offices, can't work out what is right how can the householder be expected to weigh up the pros and cons in the middle of a violent struggle in the dark?
Damned good question. It goes right to the heart of that "reasonableness" argument, doesn't it? And the question of what you believe even if your belief is wrong.
People who believe they or their family are in imminent danger are allowed to use "reasonable force" to defend themselves but cases are examined individually and a decision to prosecute is based upon the circumstances.
And those decisions appear to be somewhat random and capricious. Not something you want associated with the law when your life and your freedom are in question.
One of Mr Bellingham's constituents is farmer Tony Martin, who was jailed for shooting dead a teenage burglar.
It would appear that Mr. Martin's case stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy concerning self defense in the UK.

So, have I found that one case that proves my point? I think so, and it just so happens to come from the very same paper that started all of this, The Scotsman:
Man Who Stabbed Blood-Soaked Cocaine Addict Jailed

By Simon Baker, PA News

A 23-year-old man was jailed for five years today for stabbing to death a cocaine-addled and blood-soaked intruder who terrified a group of friends after he smashed his way into a flat.

Brett Osborn knifed Wayne Halling five times in the back after the 30-year-old burst into the property in Romford, east London, following a drug-fuelled rampage on August 24 last year.

Mr Halling – a cocaine addict who had taken a massive dose of the drug – had already caused himself around 90 separate injuries by smashing the windows and doors of several other houses on Regarth Avenue.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that the huge cocaine dose had made him numb to pain and had also pushed him into a paranoid search for his girlfriend, who lived with him on the same street, but who was away on holiday.

Osborn, who had also taken a small amount of cocaine and had been drinking, told police that he stabbed Halling to protect himself and those at the flat, including a pregnant woman.

Mr Halling, who was “streaming with blood”, had already smashed his way into the maisonette once but had been kicked out by a friend of Osborn.

After the stabbing, paramedics were were unable to save Mr Halling and he was declared dead on arrival at hospital.

Osborn, of Upminster, east London, denied any wrong-doing on the grounds of self-defence, but then at a court hearing earlier this week admitted manslaughter by reason of provocation.

Judge Shirley Anwyl QC said that she accepted that Halling could have been perceived to be “dangerous to others”.

But she added: “With hindsight it is clear that Halling was presenting no real danger to anyone but himself.
Hindsight. It's always 20/20, isn't it? But that's not what the law is supposed to be based on, is it?
“By your plea you have accepted that you intended real serious injury. Your use of violence was not wholly unpremeditated in that you did equip yourself with at least one knife.

She added: “I am in no doubt about your genuine remorse and your appreciation of the appalling effect that the killing of Halling has and continues to have on his relatives and friends.”

The court heard that Osborn is already serving a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence handed down earlier this month at Grimsby Crown Court for his part in a benefit fraud conspiracy.
Not "unpremeditated" because he picked up a knife.

Mr. O'Connor "picked up a knife" and he didn't get charged. Mr. Lambert "picked up a knife" and he didn't get charged. But Carl Lindsay picked up a knife and got a manslaughter conviction. It appears that Osborne, like Satpal Ram, had a lousy lawyer.

That's not the only version of the story. There's one on the London Times site, but I'm not paying £10 to get it. There's also this version from The Telegraph:
Five years in prison for acting in self-defence

By Alasdair Palmer
(Filed: 09/05/2004)


On the night of August Bank Holiday 2003, at about 11.30, Brett Osborn, a 23-year-old casual labourer, killed Wayne Halling, a stranger who had forced himself into the house where Osborn and four friends were watching television over a drink.

When Halling entered the house he was covered in blood and was in a frenzy. He seemed impervious to pain and was suffering from drug-induced delusions. He had been smashing the windows of other houses in the street with his fists and head, giving himself more than 90 wounds - his wrist was cut to the bone and he had sliced half through one of his toes.

By the time he arrived at 19 Regarth Avenue, Romford - where Osborn was sitting with his friends - he was, as every witness who was interviewed stated, a "terrifying sight".

He got in because one of Osborn's companions, Kelly Hinds, had heard the commotion and gone outside. The drug-crazed Halling took her for "Emma", the girlfriend who, he screamed, had "set him up". Miss Hinds recalled that he "grabbed me and pushed me against a parked car. I immediately got blood from him on my top. I managed to push him away".

Halling pursued her back to the house. Miss Hinds managed to get inside but, even with the help of her pregnant sister, Jodie, was unable to close the door against his weight or stop him from pushing his way in. He staggered along the corridor, smearing the walls with blood. Jodie Hinds screamed "He's in the house! He's in the house!" and Jay Westbrook, her boyfriend, struggled with him, knocking him down. But he got up again and kept going.

Osborn recalls: "There is blood everywhere, things are flying everywhere, the girls are screaming hysterically. I just don't know what to do. Then he starts coming towards me." In fear and confusion, Osborn picked up a steak knife with a 6in serrated blade that he says was on the floor.

He would later tell the police: "I didn't know what he was going to do to me." Also, knowing that Jodie Hinds was pregnant, he was terrified of what might happen if she were attacked. "He came towards me, sort of grabbed me," says Osborn, "and I lunged, and stabbed him that was the only thing I could think to do. It was just the panic. He's mad, he's crazy, he's just smashed up three houses, attacked people, beaten up my friend. I didn't know what was going to happen. There's blood all over him. The only thing I could think of was to protect myself and the other people in the house."

Halling fell to the floor. Police and an ambulance then arrived: there had been several calls to the emergency services, but because of fights in Romford as the pubs closed, officers had been slow to get to the scene.

The wounded intruder refused to let paramedics treat him. He fought them off until he was handcuffed by the police. PC Joanne Allan recalls that she had "never witnessed anything like this in my life. I was terrified, as I had no idea what was happening". She even considered using her CS spray to control the struggling man, who was lunging and striking out wildly. Sergeant Paul Darham, the second police officer on the scene, agreed that "the scene of blood and a male shouting and behaving irrationally was extremely distressing and frightening".

The "irrational male" was bundled into the ambulance but died on the way to hospital. Brett Osborn had stabbed him five times. Three of those stab wounds were superficial, barely breaking the skin. But one had punctured his assailant's lung. It was this injury that killed him.

An autopsy revealed that Halling had taken a massive dose of cocaine - it may have been in the form of "crack" - that night. It was the cocaine that had caused his delusions and made him impervious to pain.

There could be little doubt that Brett Osborn had not planned to kill Halling, or even that he never intended to do so. Halling was unknown to him until he had forced his way into 19 Regarth Avenue. He stabbed him because he feared for his own life and the safety of his friends. Yet, astonishingly, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to prosecute Osborn for murder - a crime that carries a minimum sentence of life imprisonment.

"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."


The legal situation was explained to Osborn by his defence team. Mr Bott and Mr Potter advised him that although they thought it very unlikely that any jury would reject his plea that he had stabbed Halling in self-defence, they could not, in all honesty, claim that it was a certainty. There was a small chance that a jury might decide that his use of the knife was "disproportionate". The jurors would then be bound, under the law, to convict him of murder.
And remember, they don't need a unanimous jury decision in the UK anymore.
It was explained to Osborn that he could avoid that risk only if he elected to plead guilty to manslaughter as a result of provocation. He would then probably be sentenced to a maximum of three years. His defence team did not advise him to take that option: they merely set out the alternatives in front of him.
Osborn decided that he could not face the risk of life imprisonment. "You see it in the paper," Osborn has said, "that bloke Tony Martin who shot the kid who was burgling his house. He went to prison for years. I didn't want to waste my life because [Halling] burst through the door. Why did he have to ruin my life?"

Tony Martin was convicted of murder after a jury rejected his claim that he had acted in self-defence when he shot dead a burglar who had broken into his isolated farm house. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Appeal Court decided to quash his conviction for murder and substitute one for manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility. Martin, who was jailed in April 2000, was freed in July 2003.

Osborn chose to plead guilty to manslaughter through provocation. He did not, however, receive a three-year sentence. At his sentencing hearing on April 21 at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Shirley Anwyl decided that he should serve five years. He is now in Belmarsh Prison.

"We couldn't believe it," Denise Osborn, Brett's mother, told The Telegraph. "Brett has never been violent. He has never been involved in any kind of violent behaviour at all before this. He has a conviction for benefit fraud, but nothing to do with any kind of violence. He was devastated at being the cause of another man's death. It is a terrible thing for him. He never meant to kill anyone. To treat him like a rapist or someone who coldly sets out to kill another human being is just so unfair and wrong."

Osborn's barristers are appealing to get his sentence reduced. They believe that the Court of Appeal's judgment in the Hastings case - Barry Hastings was convicted of manslaughter after killing an intruder and had his sentence cut from five years to three on appeal - demonstrates that the most Osborn should have received for his plea of manslaughter was three years.

Malcolm Starr, a friend and supporter of Tony Martin, said: "This case shows that it is not so much that the law needs changing but rather that some common sense should be applied. Anyone attacked in their own home should be given the benefit of the doubt whatever the circumstances.

"People have a choice whether to break into someone's home and frighten them to death. How you would react to that happening to you is something you won't know until it happens to you."

The dead man's family, however, insist that Halling was "unarmed" when he was stabbed. They are wanting Osborn's sentence increased. They also point to the fact that Osborn, while he handed the police the knife he used to stab Halling on the night of the crime, did not admit to having used it himself immediately. He did so only at a later police interview.

They also say that Osborn's claim that he stabbed Halling in the course of a struggle is not substantiated by the location of his stab wounds, which were to Halling's back, not to the front of his body. In his interview with the police, officers asked Osborn if he had "warned" Halling that he had a knife and would stab him if he did not desist. Osborn had to admit that he had not warned him.

"That is just ridiculous," says Mrs Osborn. "A man behaving like a lunatic, covered in blood, is coming towards him, and my son is supposed calmly to warn him that he might be stabbed if he attacks?"

The determination of the dead man's family to see Osborn punished may have been what persuaded the CPS to take the decision to prosecute Brett Osborn for murder. "I think the law is contemptible," says Mrs Osborn. "How can it be right to put my son in jail for defending himself and killing someone by accident? That law has to be changed. There's got to be a recognition that when you did the kind of thing Brett did, you are not a murderer and you don't deserve to rot in jail. People have got to realise that it could happen to anyone. It could be you.

"For us, the whole thing has just been a nightmare. I keep hoping I will wake up and Brett will walk in through the door of my home. But he won't. He's in prison and he won't be released for years. It is so wrong."
I'm certain Tim will point to the fact that Halling was stabbed in the back as indication that it wasn't self defense. I'm sorry, Tim, but I disagree. If I'm defending others from a blood-drenched maniac, I'm not going to give a shit whether I stab the guy in the back or in the chest. Or if I shoot him, which side the bullets go in. It's defense of self or others. It's the legitimate use of violence to stop a crime. It's justified, and this is part and parcel of what we see coming out of the UK, and what residents there see just as well - just another example of the fact that self defense there is actively discouraged, regardless of the written law. Had Mr. Halling been shot by an armed police officer in the same situation, I have absolutely no doubt that the officer would have been exonerated. Instead, Brett Osborne - convinced by his attorney to plead, just as Satpal Ram was convinced by his attorney to not to claim self defense - gets to spend five years in prison for doing the right thing.

And you know what I didn't find in all that research? A single case of successful self defense that didn't involve some sort of weapon.

But I found a lot of crimes committed by bad guys with knives, guns, and even a handgrenade.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case. What say you?

Friday, May 28, 2004

"This is highly unusual for this neighborhood."

I would certainly hope so.

In another example of "just when you thought humans couldn't sink any lower," it seems that three children in Baltimore were killed yesterday. One was beheaded, the other two nearly so. The victims were: 9-year-old Ricardo Espinoza; his 9-year-old sister, Lucero Quezada; and their 10-year-old cousin, Alexis Quezada, a boy. Two have been arrested in the murders: Adan Espinosa Canela, 17; and Policarpio Espinosa, 22, according to this AP story.

Baltimore, (home of Johns Hopkins and its Center for Gun Policy and Research) has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation. What? Is it something in the water?
I Still Want to See Him Defeated, But...

Senator John McCain, co-author of the McCain-Feingold violation of the First Amendment Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, has been promoted as Vice-Presidential material for the Kerry campaign. Apparently the Senator was on Conan O'Brien's show last night. When asked if he was considering running for VP, Senator McCain responded (and I paraphrase):
You know, I spent several years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, in the dark, eating scraps. Why would I want to do that again?
I don't care for John McCain, but I've got to admit that was very funny.

John Nance Garner, the 32nd V.P., serving from 1933-1941 under FDR (replaced by Henry A. Wallace), is famously quoted as saying,
The vice presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm spit.
I'm not sure if he said that before or after being replaced by Wallace, but I'd imagine Al Gore would agree with him. Wallace might too, since he was replaced by Truman.

I doubt Truman would agree, though.

Garner also said (of FDR), "(he) is the most destructive man in all American history." Which would explain why he was replaced with Wallace. Not that I think Garner was necessarily wrong in his opinion.
Read Today's Bleat

James's screed starting about a third of the way down the page is very much worth your time.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Favorite John Wayne Movie?

The Laughing Wolf asks this question. His are Hatari and Big Jake.

If you're a gun guy, you're just about required to like John Wayne movies.

I like both of the Wolf's choices, though my nod goes to Big Jake out of the two.

I think my favorite is a tossup between True Grit, Rooster Cogburn, and The Shootist. I literally cannot choose between them. And Big Jake is certainly first runner-up.

Bet Your Ass That "Radically Overhauled" Does Not Mean "Repealed"


It seems that the Brits, in that land of gun control utopia, have decided that their gun laws just aren't quite up to snuff.
Gun legislation 'faces overhaul'

The UK's gun laws are to be radically overhauled under proposals announced by the Home Office.

It has launched a comprehensive review of legislation in a consultation paper.

A total of £2m worth of criminals' recovered assets will be spent on helping communities tackle gun crime and gun culture.
"Let's see... We've made all semi-automatic long guns illegal, we've made all handguns illegal, we require draconian measures for subjects to legally possess what little is left over, we've managed to reduce the total number of people holding firearm certificates each and every year for the last decade at least. But it hasn't reduced firearm involved crime at all? In fact, firearm involved crime has only gone up?

"What shall we do now, in the face of this apparent failure of policy?

"I know! Let's do it some more, ONLY HARDER!"

And I see they're using asset forfeiture over there as well. I wonder if the English at least need a conviction first?
However, the government has ruled out a wholesale ban on imitation firearms, saying it was too difficult to find a legal definition for replicas.

Home Office figures showed that firearm offences in England and Wales have risen from 13,874 in 1998-99 to 24,070 in 2002-03.
And what kind of levels were they at in the 1950's when this crap really got started?
The number of recorded crimes involving imitation weapons has tripled from 566 to 1,815 during that period.
Leaving, let's see... carry the one... 22,255 recorded firearm offenses that didn't involve imitation weapons, more than 92%!

And bear in mind, the problem with the Brocock guns that got them banned was that they were converted to fire live ammo - making them REAL firearms, just like a zipgun is a REAL firearm.
The consultation paper, published on Wednesday, said: "It has proved difficult to find a workable legal definition of an imitation firearm and we do not believe that the level of effort required by agencies to administer additional restrictions is offset by public safety gains."
It would seem apparent that the "level of effort required" to collect and destroy all the legally registered semi-auto rifles and shotguns in 1988, and all the legally registered handguns in 1996 was not offset by "public safety gains" now wouldn't it?
Home Office minister Caroline Flint said: "I can't envisage a wholesale ban on imitation and replica firearms".
Well, Minister, I'd say that in your job that indicates a failure of imagination not shared by many of your peers.
She added that the UK's complex firearms legislation needed to be re-examined.

"We need to prevent guns getting into the wrong hands while allowing legitimate shooters to pursue their sport without danger to public safety".
That's refreshing to hear! At least a decade too late, though, don't you think?
A further £250,000 would be given to small community organisations tackling gun crime, "which blights too many of our neighbourhoods", Ms Flint said.

There was "a huge will across the country to make our streets safer", she added.

"The active engagement of communities is vital to tackle gun crime."
Kind of a shock to find that stripping the legal gun owners didn't just clear the problem right up, eh?
Routinely armed

A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), also published on Wednesday, calls for greater national co-ordination between police forces to prevent gun crime.

Assistant Inspector of Constabulary Tim Hollis said: "There is statistical evidence that firearms incidents are increasing, and we should not be complacent."

The report praises police officers skill and professionalism in resolving firearms incidents.
Yes, like the incident where they killed the unarmed naked man, and the one where they killed the poor guy bringing home a table leg in a plastic bag.

I'm not going to be too harsh on them. Cops are in a bad spot when it comes to defending themselves against possibly armed opponents. They are introduced into situations where they don't know what exactly is going on or who the bad guy might be. But this is not the situation for most armed citizens. When faced with a threat, it's pretty damned apparent who the bad guys are.
But Mr Hollis added: "We do not believe that the police should be routinely armed.

"Of greater importance is the level of experience, training and knowledge of police officers and recognition of the fact that the deployment of armed officers is only a partial - albeit important - part of the solution."
Meanwhile, I expect incidents in which unarmed officers are threatened or shot to rise.
Mr Hollis added: "We were encouraged to find that at the local level a number of forces had developed positive initiatives to combat gun crime."

Ms Flint said the HMIC report was "timely and helpful".

"Specialist teams such as Operation Trident have shown that expertise gets results, not just in bringing criminals to justice but in challenging gun culture and actually preventing violence in the first place," she added.
Yet firearm involved crime continues to rise, requiring a "radical overhaul" of existing gun laws, right?

The philosophy CANNOT BE WRONG! Do it again. Only harder.

Sheesh.
"You just described a legal activity???"

Fellow blogger Jason Hartney of Fish or Man has had a run-in with the cops for carrying openly in Ellensburg, Washington. Seems a teller at the bank inside the grocery store was frightened by Jason's .45 carried - openly - tucked inside his waistband. I'd link to the original post, but go to the top of the page and work your way down to the one titled Small town life, big time brainwashed. Scroll up from there. There are several related posts.

Other than being perhaps a bit confrontational to the responding officer, I find nothing wrong with Mr. Hartney's behavior.
Have You Seen These?

I ran across this news. A fellow IHMSA shooter, Lee Jackson from Kentucky got burglarized. A bunch of his guns got stolen. Here's the link to everything.

Here's a list:
Remington XP-100 7BR Pistol built by Kevin Randolph. Rear grip HS Precision stock in gloss metallic black. 15" fluted barrel. Jewell trigger. Model 700 bolt handle.
Serial Number: B7518883

BF 7US, single shot, falling block action, 10 3/4" barrel, electroless nickel finish. Burris 10x intermediate eye relief scope was on gun when stolen.
Serial Number: 12020015

BF 22 LR, single shot falling block action, 10 3/4" barrel, electroless nickel finish. ISGW front and rear sights.
Serial Number: 07000029

Freedom Arms 41 Magnum Revolver. Hooded adjustable front sight. 10 1/2" barrel.
Serial Number: JF051

Freedom Arms 22 LR Revolver. Hooded front blade sight. 10 1/2" barrel.
Serial Number: G-PP-243

Anschutz Exemplar 22 LR. 5 shot clip fed, bolt action. 10" barrel. ISGW front and rear sights. Lansing flip up hood.
Serial Number: 1327790P

Browning Buckmark 5.5" Target. Thumb rest grip.
Serial Number: 515MZ17523

Thompson Center Contender ( TC ) blue frame. TC Rynite grip, Pachmyar forend. Had a Bullberry Stainless match 15" 22 LR barrel and Tasco 6x Pro Class 30mm scope on it.
Serial Number: 429581

Marlin Model 336 30/30 caliber lever action rifle with a Burris 3-9X scope.
Serial Number: 1800792

Remington Model 700 22/250 caliber Varmint Synthetic stock, stainless fluted barrel with Tasco 6-24X Varmint Scope.
Serial Number: 56271295

Colt AR-15 Model MT-6601, heavy barrel target rifle.
Serial Number: CMH036571


Keep your eyes open, would you? This really sucks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

OK, ONE More Tonight

It's another one of those blog memes. What's your workspace look like?

James Lileks started it. Kim du Toit showed us his (so to speak.) Well, here's mine, taken with my el cheapo Largan Chameleon Mega camera.

That's my loading bench off to the left there with my single-stage Lee Challenger press and my Dillon Square-Deal B. In the back corner is the stock for my M48 Yugoslavian Mauser. Not seen further off to the left is my reloading component cabinet where I keep my powder, primers, loaded ammo, range bag, etc. All the bullets, my scales, powder measure & other stuff are in the bench itself. The kiddie gate keeps my grandkids out of the drawers. They got into them once.

Once.

It took me awhile to sort out all the different bullets by caliber, weight, and style.

This is in what should be the breakfast area of my house. The shot is taken from the kitchen. I had all my computer and reloading stuff in a spare bedroom, but after my daughter moved home with the grandkids, no spare bedrooms anymore!

They've moved out again, but my wife is providing daycare for the kids, so one bedroom is my grandson's and the other is my granddaughter's.

And I am relegated to the breakfast area.

But it works.
This One's a Must-Read

Via Ipse Dixit comes this excellent piece. A taste:
A Movie Not Made

Let's imagine it's November, 1944. Allied troops are bogged down in Northern Europe and Italy. A film maker, disgusted by the progress of the war in Europe, American war strategy ("Europe first") and American culture in general decides to make a movie to "speak truth to power" and counteract the propaganda coming from Hollywood.

Let's call his movie Celsius 127, a scathing documentary suggesting that President Roosevelt lied about keeping America out of the European conflict and withheld vital intelligence from commanders in Hawaii in order that the Japanese attack would be all the more devastating. With that, he could do what he always wanted to do: commit American troops and America's fortune against Germany.

Celsius 127 would relentlessly focus on every shortcoming of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Corps. It would show that American troops were ill-trained, ill-equipped and ill-supplied, slaughtered in pointless attacks, guilty of atrocities against unarmed enemy troops that surrendered.
This piece makes the point perfectly that in this war, as in every war, bad things happen. How you see it is very much up to the people who produce our media.

Cathy Siepp has a related piece up on NRO that should also be read (via Instapundit). Hers is about the upcoming A&E movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day and its co-executive producer Lionel Chetwynd. Money quote:
Now in his early 60s, Chetwynd is a longtime naturalized American citizen who was born in England and raised in Montreal. He'd remembered from Canadian regimental history that of the 4,400-odd Canadians sent to Dieppe, about 3,600 were killed. Although they knew it was basically a suicide mission, not one man failed to report for duty. Chetwynd asked one of the old soldiers in his regiment, Sgt. Gordon Betts, why.

"My generation had to figure out what we were ready to die for," Chetwynd recalled Betts telling him. "You kids don't even know what to live for."

Many years later, when Chetwynd was a successful Hollywood writer specializing in historical dramas, he told the Dieppe story during a Malibu dinner party — as a sort of tribute to the men who died there so people could sit around debating politics at Malibu dinner parties. One of the guests was a network head who asked Chetwynd to come in and pitch the story.

"So I went in," Chetwynd told me, "and someone there said, 'So these bloodthirsty generals sent these men to a certain death?'

"And I said, 'Well, they weren't bloodthirsty; they wept. But how else were we to know how Hitler could be toppled from Europe?' And she said, 'Well, who's the enemy?' I said, 'Hitler. The Nazis.' And she said, 'Oh, no, no, no. I mean, who's the real enemy?'"

"It was the first time I realized," Chetwynd continued, "that for many people evil such as Nazism can only be understood as a cipher for evil within ourselves. They've become so persuaded of the essential ugliness of our society and its military, that to tell a war story is to tell the story of evil people."
These people are not only producing our entertainment, they are producing our news.

Each evening on CNN we're seeing - if not to the same intensity - Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11. It's in the New York Times, the AP, Reuters, ABCNBCCBSMSNBCPBS et al. People in the news media wants us to lose, and they report the news in such a way as to convince us, as they did in Vietnam, that we cannot win. That we cannot define "winning." That there is nothing good going on in Iraq. In early February there was a piece on ABC's news blog The Note that I saved for posterity. From it comes this:
Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."

They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don't have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.

More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.

The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush's justifications for the Iraq war -- in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.

It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.

It remains fixated on the unemployment rate.

It believes President Bush is "walking a fine line" with regards to the gay marriage issue, choosing between "tolerance" and his "right-wing base."

It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the drumbeat of conservative grass-top complaints about overspending and deficits, President Bush's base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him -- and it looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.
They're not looking to find cracks in the base, they're out there with hammers and chisels. And it's not just the Washington press corps. If you believe, as I do, that political cartoonists reflect the general attitude of the press, go read the daily political cartoons on Slate, like this one, or this one, or this one, or this one. I find this one particularly disgusting.

Trust me, there are plenty more.

Now they're hooking up jackhammers.

I've said it before, our opponent cannot win. But we can beat ourselves. And our media is hellbent, for whatever reason, to see that we do. If the media in 1943 had the same attitude it has now, we'd have lost WWII. This conflict is no less important. Are we destined, as a nation, to die with a whimper? Are we what the Russians accused us of, what the jihadis accuse us of? Weak-willed, soft, corrupt and unwilling to fight?

What the fuck happened to us?

UPDATE 5/27: Ann Coulter has a related piece up, Tit for Tet. Recommended.
Today's Entry

The Blogger Quiz:

1. Which political party do you typically agree with? Haven't found one yet.

2. Which political party do you typically vote for? Republican

3. List the last five presidents that you voted for? Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, G.W. Bush. (I first voted in 1980.)

4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy? Libertarian

5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs? Republican, except recently.

6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out? We'd better stay. We need to pull out the media, though.

7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11? Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.

8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Haven't been paying attention? We have found WMD. Just not in massive quantities. The contents of that one artillery shell could have killed everybody in the Superdome. (Hey we're having a two-for-one sale at Saddam's House of WMD's! Two Sarin shells for the price of one! C'mon down! Have title to your camel? One Al Qaeda pay stub? We can finance! The first five customers get a Mustard Gas shell free!)

9. Yes or no, should the U.S. legalize marijuana? Yes. And most other illicit substances. It won't make everything wonderful, it will cause numerous different problems, it won't get Big Government out of our lives, but it's NOT THE BUSINESS OF GOVERNMENT to protect us from ourselves.

10. Do you think the Republicans stole the last Presidental election? No. They kept the Democrats from doing it. Changing the rules in the middle of the contest is WRONG.

11. Do you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinski? Bill wasn't impeached for playing hide the salami with Lewinski, he was impeached for lying under oath. And he should have been convicted. But that would have put Gore in the Big Chair - a frightening thought in itself.

12. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good President? Not even of her local Rotary Club.

13. Name a current Democrat who would make a great President: Not great, but I think Zell Miller would be a good one.

14. Name a current Republican who would make a great President: I don't see one. I like Ron Paul but I often get the impression that he's too much idealist and not enough pragmatist. I'd like to see Condaleeza Rice run in 2008, though. I think she'd be a good President.

15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion? First trimester, yes. After that, for reasons of medical necessity only. This is based on my belief - and that's all it is, my belief - that prior to the second trimester the fetus is not yet a person with attendant rights. Sometime between the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the third, the fetus becomes a person with all attendant rights, but a minor over whom the mother has descretion. The "bright line" for me is twelve weeks. (Don't write letters. I'm not interested in debating abortion. I have enough on my hands debating gun rights.)

16. What religion are you? None. I consider the concept of a Supreme Being, Creator of the Universe, being interested in the activities of we puny humans and able to be swayed by our prayers one of the more ludicrous I've ever been presented. If there is a God, I doubt seriously he gives a s*!t about what we do.

17. Have you read the Bible all the way through? Nope. Nor the Torah, nor the Q'uran, nor the Bhagvad Gita, nor... Well, you get the idea.

18. What's your favorite book? The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Anson Heinlein.

19. Who is your favorite band? Probably The Eagles. I don't really have a "favorite," but I do have all of the Eagles albums.

20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election? Bush, so long as no new gun control laws are signed. Particularly a renewal of the AWB.

21. What website did you see this on first? Kim du Toit's.