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

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Self-Defense in the UK

I left this in a comment at Say Uncle this morning in response to the assertion that "There is no right of self defense in the English law system. The use of force is solely the right of the Crown."  I thought it would make a pretty decent post of its own, especially with the hyperlinks included.
OK, I’ve argued this question extensively. Here’s the deal:

In the UK, under the law you are permitted to use “reasonable force” to defend yourself or others.

Here’s the rub: Other people after the fact determine what was "reasonable" at the time of the incident.

Possession of anything "with the intent to threaten to cause injury or fear" is verboten – so if you pick up a baseball bat and stand outside your property as a deterrent to rioters, your intent is to "threaten to cause injury or fear" and you're therefore guilty of being in possession of an "offensive weapon."

Apparently you're supposed to wait until you, personally are under physical attack before you can pick up anything with which to defend yourself, and then you are restricted in how you use that item to some "reasonable" level to be determined at some future time when the jurors can reflect calmly on the situation.

Further, as has been explained to the British public, the law 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 struck was deliberate rather than accidental – you can be guilty of murder and spend the rest of your life in prison.

As a result, the Crown Prosecution Service can (and has) prosecuted people for merely possessing anything they consider to be an "offensive weapon" whether or not said "weapon" was ever displayed. They have prosecuted people, like the man who beat a burglar with a milk bottle, for "unreasonable" use of force. One man was acquitted not too long back of murdering a home invader with his shotgun when his defense was that the gun "accidentally discharged" as he was pointing it at the huge, steroid-enraged bodybuilder climbing through his second-floor window and verbally threatening to kill the homeowner. Since there was no intent, fleeting or momentary, he wasn't guilty of murder, apparently, even though he had to unlock the gun cabinet, retrieve his shotgun, unlock the ammo cabinet, retrieve his ammo, load the gun, aim the gun, and put his finger on the trigger. All of that was "reasonable," but pulling the trigger intentionally would have been an act not of self-defense, but of murder.

The result of these laws is that the act of defending yourself is legally risky. Even if you’re acquitted, it may cost you a fortune in legal fees, and you very well might go to jail. If you actively defend your property, the chances are very high that you will be prosecuted for – at a minimum – possession of an "offensive weapon" and "causing fear," and you will most probably lose in court.

All of this has what has been referred to as a "chilling effect" on the willingness of the British populace to actively defend themselves. You'll note in the stories coming out of the UK that the people doing the "vigilantism" are almost exclusively immigrants – mostly Turks and Sikhs. They haven't had their self-reliance beaten out of them yet.

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