Will the Brits Ever Learn, an Armed Citizenry is a Safe Citizenry

Of course, none of these gun laws and restrictions imposed thereto prevented the London Bridge and other terrorist attacks. If anything, they facilitated the effectiveness of the attacks by rendering Londoners and other Britons supine, defenseless and helpless in the face of suicidal, murderous fanatic Islamist terrorists. It remains to be seen if British Government officials will see, understand, and admit to the utter stupidity of the anti-gun public policies over the years, and rectify them.

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John M. Snyder l June 13, 2017

Consider the recent Islamist terrorist attack near London Bridge.

In the June 2 incident, reports indicate eight people were killed by three men who mowed down and stabbed Saturday night revelers before police arrived and gunned down the murderers.

Hospitals treated 48 victims.

The Islamist State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.

A man threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in an attempt to stop them, according to the Guardian. Apparently, no one at the scene had anything else with which to stop them. The victims were defenseless.

It took armed police 10 minutes to reach the scene. Too late. The murder victims were already dead.

No innocent subject had a gun for self-defense. British public policy prevents it. The innocent and their families pay the price.

The powers that be in the United Kingdom eschew the very idea of an armed citizenry.

This was not always the case.

England at one time and for a long time was thought of generally as a nation of firearm owners, or riflemen, or certainly as a nation in which innocent subjects could obtain self-defense firearms. As the 1689 English Bill of Rights noted, individuals enjoyed the right to bear arms “as allowed by law.”

In more recent years, though, the country’s political powers have transformed England. It was a nation in which the right of individuals to keep and bear arms generally was recognized. Gradually it has become a nation in which the right is circumscribed out of practical existence.

In the beginning of the 20th Century, politicians began placing restrictions on the sale of firearms. The Pistols Act of 1903 made illegal the selling or renting of a pistol to anyone who could not come up with a current gun license or game license. Basically, though, anyone who wanted to buy a pistol from a commercial source could purchase a license from a Post Office.

After World War One, the gun grabbers on the British Isles side of the pond really began to go into full swing. Parliament passed the Firearms Act of 1920. It provided that anyone who wanted to get a firearm or ammunition first had to obtain a firearm certificate. The three-year certificate specified the firearm and the amount of ammunition the holder could buy or possess. This government program was administered by local chief constables, who could decide if applicants had a good reason to have such a certificate. They could decide whether or not to issue such certificates.

The Home Office defined for chief constables what could be considered good reasons for granting such certificates.

This Firearms Act of 1920 made what had been the right of the individual to keep and bear arms a privilege to be determined by the government, that is, the Home Office and the police.

Then, the Firearms Act of 1937 extended the 1920 law to include shotguns. It regulated gun dealers, and authorized local chief constables to add conditions to individual firearm certificates. The Home Office decided that “self-defense” was not a suitable reason for wanting a gun. It directed police to refuse applicants who listed “self-defense” as a reason for wanting a firearm certificate because “firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection and may be a source of danger.”

These gun control laws and regulations in England really emasculated what had been considered a legal right into whatever government authorities wanted it to be.

Three years later, in 1940, it seemed likely that Nazi Germany would invade Great Britain. Then, people in England and elsewhere felt that now the British needed guns for defense. This was before the Royal Air Force (RAF) defeated the Luftwaffe in what has become known as the Battle of Britain and forced Der Fuhrer to abandon plans for Sea Lion, the invasion of the British Isles.


In the United States, the American Committee for the Defense of British Homes called on readers of gun magazines to “SEND A GUN TO DEFEND A BRITISH HOME.”

With C. Suydam Cutting in Room 100 at 10 Warren Street, New York, NY listed as chairman, the Committee ran a full page ad in the November 1940 issue of The American Rifleman, official journal of the National Rifle Association of America, asking readers to “SEND A GUN TO DEFEND A BRITISH HOME.”

According to the ad, “British civilians, faced with the threat of invasion, desperately need arms for the defense of their homes. The American Committee for defense of British homes has organized to collect gifts of PISTOLS – RIFLES – REVOLVERS – SHOTGUNS – BINOCULARS from American civilians who wish to answer the call and aid in defense of British homes.

“These arms are being shipped, with the consent of the British Government, to Civilian Committee for Protection of Homes, Birmingham, England, the members of which are Wickham Steed, Edward Hulton, and Lord Davies. YOU CAN AID by sending any arms or binoculars you can spare to American Committee for Defense of British homes.”

How did Americans react?

“Americans did respond,” noted John Marshall in the Twin Butte Tribune of June 4, 2017, “with thousands of firearms and binoculars, freely and without hope of the return of their goods. We were, and thank heaven, still are the ‘arsenal of democracy.’ And let it ever be so…Most were melted as scrap after the war by a British Government that was too blind to see the object lesson.”

As a matter of fact, it seemed the British Government bent over backwards not to learn the object lesson. The 1968 Firearms Act, as an example, provided that firearms had to be locked up, and that ammunition had to be stored in a “different cabinet.”

Some thought the British Government infatuation with gun control was useless. In his 1972 book on Firearms Control, Colin Greenwood, who served with law enforcement in various parts of the UK and rose to the rank of Chief Inspector, made this clear. “To continue with the process of attempting to deal with the criminal use of firearms by placing more restrictions on legitimate users is not likely to achieve anything,” he wrote. “But the great danger lies, not in the ineffectiveness of such restrictions, but in a belief that they will solve the problem. While this mistaken belief persists, the real problem will not receive the attention and action which it clearly and urgently requires.” Chief Inspector Greenwood’s book was published by Routledge & Kegan Paul in London.

However, the British Government proceeded to impose more “such restrictions” on British subjects.

The Firearms Amendment Act of 1988 categorized as prohibited semi-automatic and pump-action center-fire rifles, military weapons firing explosive ammunition, short shotguns with magazines, and pump-action and self-loading rifles.

The 1997 Firearms Amendment Acts almost completely banned private handgun possession.

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 banned the sale and transfer by mail order of air guns.

Of course, none of these gun laws and restrictions imposed thereto prevented the London Bridge and other terrorist attacks. If anything, they facilitated the effectiveness of the attacks by rendering Londoners and other Britons supine, defenseless and helpless in the face of suicidal, murderous fanatic Islamist terrorists.

It remains to be seen if British Government officials will see, understand and admit to the utter stupidity of the anti-gun public policies over the years, and rectify them.


John M. Snyder, called “the dean of Washington gun lobbyists” by the Washington Post and New York Times, for 50 years has defended American gun rights as an NRA editor, director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Second Amendment Foundation, and founder/director of www.GunRightsPolicies.org. He is founder/manager of Telum Associates, LL.C, founder/chairman of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc., and serves on the boards of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Federation of Police & Concerned Citizens. Author of the book Gun Saint, he received his AB and MA from Georgetown University. Mr. Snyder is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.