The Right Coast

January 02, 2004
Self Defence
By Tom Smith

This is interesting, on the (lack of a) right to self defense in the UK (via instapundit). Brits, stalwart souls that they are, apparently want Parliament to recognize their natural right to defend their homes against invaders, but for reasons I just don't get, Labor and even a lot of Conservative MPs, won't touch the issue. Even with their stupid laws, you are probably still much safer in London than you are in Washington, but nevertheless, burglary is growing fast in the UK, and why wouldn't it, if you can be assured all the homeowner can do is beg you please not to take the silver or call the bobbies, who probably won't get there soon enough to do any good.

My perspective on guns is shaped by my boyhood. I rarely went hunting, since my dad had given it up after World War II. He said he saw enough killing on Okinawa to last him a lifetime, and I don't doubt it -- more people died in the Battle of Okinawa than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. However, we did have several shotguns and a .22 rifle in the house, which my dad eventually showed us how to use. My father is a retired state court trial judge, and over the years he sent many miscreants to the state pen. Of course, we kids were often fascinated by the criminal cases, which included the usual share of murders, rapes and other mayhem. There was always the chance some bad guy would escape and come to visit the judge who sent him up. On one occasion, I remember sitting up part of the night with my dad, after he had received a call from the sheriff that some killer had broken out and it might do to lock the doors and windows. I was glad my father was armed and knew how to shoot that night. The guns were not locked up, just tucked away in my father's closet. The only thing that protected them was a rule that we were not to touch them, and we didn't.

Another thing that has made an impression on me is the history of my wife's family. Her brother was murdered in a home invasion robbery, a quite notorious case, that could have been prevented, probably, had their household been armed. Her brother was a graduate student in Chicago, and the intruders were armed with knives. Perhaps if my brother in law had had a pistol, it would have made no difference, or perhaps both Mark and his wife would have been killed, instead of just Mark. But perhaps they would have repelled the robbers, and the enormous devastation that always ripples outward from these sorts of horrible crimes, would have been avoided. Until you see the effect a murder has on the survivors, you just can't appreciate what a terrible thing it is. When you defend yourself or your loved ones, you're defending a whole circle of people, everybody who loves you and would grieve at your loss. Those clueless Brits who oppose self-defense speak as if it is somehow selfish. Yet every parent knows the main reason you would not want to be killed is because of the effect it would have your kids, and on your own parents. Our baby boy, born 11 weeks ago, is named Mark.

Nor does it make sense to say defending yourself is one thing, and defending your property is another. If someone forcibly breaks into your home, you are at risk of injury and death. Just the psychological damage from having to submit to the humiliation of home invasion, if you're lucky enough to avoid a head injury or a rape, is profound.

One of my new year's resolutions is to install a gun safe in a wall, so my pistol is more readily accessible. I'm also going to equip it with both a 12 gauge and either a 20 or 4-10 gauge shotguns, a his and hers sort of thing. And then I think some sort of all purpose rifle, maybe a lever action carbine. Yes, I like guns. No reason not to have some fun.