I was a UK resident alien for 18 years. While pursuing The American Dream in The Land of Hope and Glory (go figure), I never touched a gun. OK, I used to nip into Holland & Holland in Mayfair on the odd occasion to ogle shotguns that cost more than any three motorcycles I’ve ever owned. For reasons I still can’t fathom. Speaking of the unfathomable, the British justice system is a bit OTT when it comes to gun control. No private handgun or modern home defense sporting rifles for you old chap. Register all your shotguns with the police. Roger that—although not in the English sense of the word. Actually yes. Let’s go with the sodomy definition; British judges seem happy to roger anyone who even comes close to an “improper” firearm. Writing for fwi.co.uk, an ex-con by the name of Andrew Richardson tells the tale of gun control gone wild . . .
First, Mr. Richardson’s account of what happens when you forget about a .22 stashed in your things (for 27 years) when you move from the U.S. to the U.K.
A few weeks later an auctioneer found the pistol in its shoebox and turned it in to local police. Five months after that, they contacted me for a cordial chat, and I told them this story.
Over the next three to four months, police, solicitors and probation officials all assured me I’d get a slap on the wrist for forgetfulness. But in court, the judge threw the book at me, awarding the full five-year minimum custodial sentence dictated by parliament. I was, seemingly, imprisoned merely to set an example to others – highlighting the at-times nonsensical nature of British justice.
Five years? Fortunately, Mr. Richardson “only” served eight months. The other examples of gun control gone wild unearthed by Mr. Richardson during time served at his Majesty’s pleasure are even more shocking.
It’ll be no great surprise that I’ve heard dozens of horror stories since my case went public. For example, a young farmworker was asked to nip into town in the boss’s car to pick up staff lunches. While he was salting the fish ‘n’ chips, a pedestrian noticed the farmer’s shotgun on the back seat of the car where he’d left it after shooting the day before. Police were called, and the young man was charged with possessing a gun for which he didn’t have a licence. Despite the farmer admitting his fault in not locking it up after the shoot, the judiciary stood firm and the farmworker served 19 months before being released on appeal.
Then there’s the tale of the senior bank director. An avid countryside sportsman, he attended a shoot in Essex one Friday, but instead of going home to Surrey, stayed in his Belgravia house over the weekend as he had city social engagements. His 12-bore was locked in the gun cabinet on Friday evening, but a nosy neighbour who saw him carrying it indoors, secured in the right place, called the constabulary. He was arrested and imprisoned: his licence address was Surrey, so locking it up in Belgravia constituted both unlicensed possession and concealment.
No ’bout a doubt it: the more stringent gun control laws become, the greater the possibility of unintended consequences. And victims. Maybe Paul Helmke and his mates should think about that the next time they claim Europe and the UK are the model for American gun control.