June 22, 2002

RETHINKING BRITISH GUN CONTROL? Not yet, really, but here is a sign that questions are at least being raised:

Self-defence, William Blackstone, the 18th century English jurist, wrote, is a natural right that no government can deprive people of, since no government can protect the individual in his moment of need. The English Bill of Rights of 1689 affirmed the right of individuals “to have arms for their defence”. It is a dangerous right. But leaving personal protection to the police is also dangerous, and ineffective. Government is perilously close to denying people the ability to protect themselves at all, and the result is a more, not less, dangerous society.

“It is implicit in a genuine right,” said Judge Brown-Wilkinson (Wheeler v Leicester City Council 1985 ) “that its exercise may work against [some facet of] the public interest: a right to speak only where its exercise advanced the public welfare or public policy would be a hollow guarantee against repression.”

History shows that public safety is not enhanced by depriving individuals of their right to personal safety.

Indeed.

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