Malcolm’s book has shown me that I radically underestimated the danger of gun control. Her detailed study of British legislation on the topic shows the real aim of the disarmers. They wish to abolish the right to armed self-defense entirely. The point is not only to block armed resistance to the state, as I had previously thought; in addition, everyone is to be made totally dependent on the state for protection.
Some of Malcolm’s examples are shocking. In England “[m]erely threatening to defend oneself can also prove illegal, as an elderly lady discovered. She succeeded in frightening off a gang of thugs by firing a blank from a toy gun, only to be arrested for the crime of putting someone in fear with an imitation firearm” (p. 184).
Not even if one’s life is in danger can one legally use a weapon. In another case, two men assaulted Eric Butler in a subway, smashing his head and choking him. “In desperation he unsheathed a sword blade in his walking stick and slashed at one of them. . . . The assailants were charged with unlawful wounding but Butler was also tried, and convicted of carrying an offensive weapon” (p. 185).
You can imagine the legal position if someone goes so far as to use a real gun to defend himself. As British law now stands, you cannot even use a gun in your own home to defend yourself against burglars. In a 1999 incident, Tony Martin surprised a professional burglar and his accomplice while they robbed his home. He fired, killing one of them.
Did the government commend Martin for his bravery in confronting the burglars? Quite the contrary, they tried and convicted him for murder. “Thus an English farmer, living alone, has been sentenced to life in prison for killing one professional burglar and ten years for wounding another when the two broke into his home at night” (p. 216). Fortunately, our story has a “happy” ending: the court of appeals reduced his sentence to five years, on grounds of “diminished capacity.”
Gun control advocates, faced with these facts, will at once begin to yammer uncontrollably, “a correlation is not a cause.” Indeed it is not; but in this instance, a strong correlation holds in two ways: when guns increase in number, violent crimes decrease, and when guns decrease, violent crimes increase. Further, a plausible causal story explains the correlation: the prospect of armed resistance deters criminals. This is about as good as an inductive argument gets. But I do not anticipate that those who wish to take away the right to self-defense will alter their position. They aim to make everyone totally dependent on the all-powerful state….
(Guns and Violence: The English Experience, Joyce Lee Malcolm)