A Plea for Self-Defense in Great Britain

At American Thinker, Ciaran Brady eloquently makes the case for an effective right of self-defense in Europe, and in particular in Great Britain:

The threat of marauding gunmen in a city, so vividly illustrated at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket, has been clearly apparent to western nations since the horrific Mumbai attacks in 2008. MI5 have confirmed that the Syrian arm of a resurgent al-Qaeda is planning similar attacks against the UK, possibly by British jihadists who have already returned from fighting in Syria or Iraq. They include plans to blow up a passenger jet, employ Mumbai style shootings in crowded places or even hit-and-run attacks using vehicles (an attack style employed in France in Christmas 2014). Andrew Parker (Director General of the security service MI5) said the number of random “crude and potentially deadly” plots from “lone wolf” extremists was increasing. In a stark warning, he said: “Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know we cannot hope to stop everything.”

This is where we find ourselves now. Every citizen in Europe and the UK faces the risk of an Islamic attack merely while going about normal day-to-day business. UK citizens in particular face this risk whilst being denied weapons of self defense.

It is illegal in the U.K. for civilians to own handguns, and difficult to own any other firearms. The civil right of armed self-defense, as enshrined in our Second Amendment, may have originated in England, but it is not now recognized there. The result can be grim:

In the past I have fully and enthusiastically supported the UK’s complete ban on hand guns. But immediately after the killing of Lee Rigby I began to reconsider the wisdom of that ban and I now utterly oppose it. As things stand in the UK, hand guns are illegal. For those shotguns you could own, extremely strict licensing specifically disallows self defense as a motive for ownership and so the old adage “In countries where guns are illegal, only the criminals have guns” is the frankly mad situation we now have in the UK.

There is no place in the world where it is particularly difficult for criminals, let alone terrorists, to obtain weapons. Even if those weapons are only knives, they may be sufficient for the purpose when the populace has been disarmed.

Once illegal guns are used in anger, you then have to consider how long it takes armed police to respond. The three sprees most responsible for framing the gun laws we now have in the UK reveal a rather worrying problem, given it took 2 hours for armed police to arrive on the scene in Cumbria in 2010, by which time Bird had killed himself and 18 others. In Hungerford in 1987, Ryan had 6 hours to kill himself and 16 others before armed police arrived. In Dunblane in 1996, armed police again never made it to the scene before Hamilton killed himself and 17 people.

The reality is that small crack teams of armed police can never be relied upon to make it to the scene of a crime until after some undefined but inevitably critical delay.

Glenn Reynolds: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. At best.

In London on the 22nd May 2013, it took over 15 minutes for armed police to arrive when the soldier Lee Rigby was killed by two supporters of Islam who first ran him down with their car and then hacked him to death with knives and a meat cleaver. When these events occur in the UK, members of the public armed with nothing more than smiles and harsh language will inevitably be the first responders. In the Cumbrian shooting spree Bird encountered literally dozens of people on his route, all of whom were unarmed and many of who died as a result. The same applied in the case of Ryan and Hamilton. In the Lee Rigby killing all of us in the UK watched videos showing Ingrid Loyau-Kennett take on this first responder role… but seeing the killers’ hands literally dripping with blood left me aghast at just how vulnerable and utterly defenceless she and all the citizens in the vicinity actually were.

Mr. Brady recounts another incident in Great Britain where an armed National Crime Officer happened to be at the scene of a would-be mass murder, and stopped it. Firearms, as Mr. Brady says, are well known as effective tools of self-defense:

It is for this reason that UK authorities routinely protect politicians and dignitaries with armed escorts, but when it comes to us ordinary citizens, the state appears to consider our defense rights as almost irrelevant and then goes on to reinforce that policy by removing any and all tools that the law abiding citizen could realistically use to that end.

So the state not only fails to protect the citizen, it deliberately renders him defenseless. The result in the United Kingdom has been a steady increase in violent crime, even as violent crime continues to drop in the much better-armed United States. The violent crime rate in the traditionally peaceful U.K. now far exceeds that in the U.S.

Other European voices are being raised in favor of allowing threatened citizens to protect themselves. It is about time: the right of self-defense is the most fundamental law of nature. It is not a privilege bestowed by the state on those happy few who hold office or can afford armed security.

Most liberals scoff at the idea that citizens are competent to defend themselves. But the reality is that a great many of us are willing to take our chances. I went to a rifle range this afternoon–in Minnesota in January, you can’t shoot outdoors. I shot this group at 40 yards with my Bison Armory AR-15:


Is that especially good shooting, at 40 yards with an upper-end AR and a high-quality scope? No. Real shooters would probably consider it laughable. But from the perspective of a potential perpetrator who could be in the vicinity of the target, it’s not to be taken lightly.

Realistically, handguns are more likely to be used in self-defense than semiautomatic rifles. A very ordinary citizen can make pretty good use of a handgun, too. I shot this group with my Armalite AR-24 9 mm. pistol last weekend, at 20 feet:


There are many readers of this site who can shoot better than that. But my point is that an ordinary citizen with no particular talent–worse, a middle-aged lawyer–can, with a reasonable amount of practice, become a pretty good shot. Plenty good enough to make self-defense a realistic option.

Here in America, our frontier tradition and the Second Amendment, combined with effective advocacy by our country’s most effective civil rights organization, the NRA, have kept the right of armed self-defense strong, vital and growing. Increasingly, Europeans are looking enviously at America as a model for a freer, more self-reliant, and perhaps safer society.

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