Back in March I wrote about the way pro-gun bloggers leapt to the conclusion that self-defence in the UK was illegal, based on story about a man who defended himself against some robbers with a sword, killed one and ended up being jailed for eight years. Unfortunately, the story left out the fact that the killing was not in self-defence since the killer had stabbed the robber in the back after he fled from the killer’s home. In the comments to that post and this follow-up post, Kevin Baker argued that restrictions on weapons in the UK made it essentially impossible to defend yourself. Now he has a new posting where he continues the argument.
He says that he stands by this statement (emphasis added by me):
(T)here have been numerous cases of the British courts charging people for defending themselves. The law there seems to be one based on “proportional response” – e.g., stabbing someone who isn’t armed with a weapon is “excessive force.” So is bashing them over the head with a brick. There are many of these cases, and they’ve lead us to the conclusion that private citizens in Britain had best not resist attack, or face prosecution for usurping the authority of the State in its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. My primary objection to the news story was that it reinforces that conclusion. If you are a reader of that story, ignorant as to the details, in combination with all the other similar stories of people prosecuted after defending themselves, the message is “don’t resist, you’ll go to jail.”
He has “spent a considerable amount of time trying to do archive research through UK online newspapers for stories on self defense”, and found not one story where someone was prosecuted for defending themselves. So where do we stand here? Despite strenuous efforts, we have not one case where the British courts have charged someone for defending themselves. All we have is two cases (Lindsay and Martin) where the killing was not self-defence, but were presented by pro-gunners to make it look like it was.
Next, Baker seems to think there is some contradiction between Kleck’s description of Baker’s belief that gun control does not disarm any criminals as a fallacy, and Kleck’s statement that general gun availability has no net positive effect on crime. That’s net effect. He’s not saying that there are no negative effects. He’s arguing that the positive effects cancel them out.
Next, Baker once more misrepresents my position by claiming that my “philosophy” is
Violence is wrong.
Of course, it is quite obvious from what I have written in this discussion that I don’t think that violence used in self-defence is wrong. It is disappointing that Baker has chosen to argue against a straw man rather than my position.
Baker then claims:
It doesn’t matter to Tim that taking firearms away from the law abiding makes them nearly powerless against those willing to use violence against them. Women, the elderly, the physically disabled are all at a disadvantage against the youthful, strong, and predatory. They don’t NEED a gun.
If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed.
But the law doesn’t disarm attackers. It disarms their victims. The attackers have the choice to be armed or not. The State denies that choice to the victims, and so doing makes their victimization easier.
Even after I point out that a gun is not the only way to defend yourself Baker is back to claim that it basically is, with only a weaselly “nearly” to qualify his claim. He once more asserts that “the law doesn’t disarm attackers”, even though I called him on this claim before and pointed out that pro-gun scholar Gary Kleck calls it a fallacy. In our discussion, I’ve provided evidence that his claim is false, while he has not provided any evidence that it is true. Finally, it is utterly wrong to start his paragraph with “It doesn’t matter to Tim” when what follows are not facts that I have expressed indifference towards, but “facts” that I have strenuously pointed out are false.
And just to prove that Baker is still gullible, we have the latest crime figures from England. Here’s what Baker reported:
Violent crime rose 11% in the final three months of 2003 compared with the same period in 2002, Home Office figures revealed today. Latest figures show 271,500 incidents of violent crime were recorded by police in England and Wales from October to December 2003. More serious violent crimes such as murder and serious wounding rose by 13%, while “less serious” violent crime such as assaults increased 21% period-on-period to 106,000 incidents. The number of sexual offences rose 6% to 12,600 while robberies fell 7% to 23,900.
Quick, based on what Baker reported, did violent crime go up or down? Guess what, the British Crime Survey showed that violent crime decreased by 5%. The 11% increase that the newspaper used for its headline was just because the police were recording more of the smaller number of violent crimes. Of course, “crime up” makes for a better story than “crime down”, so that’s the way the paper reported it and Baker fell for it. And note that in another post he specifically acknowledges that the survey figures are more accurate than the police recorded figures.
After criticizing Iain Murray for his misleading writing about epidemiology and global warming, I should acknowledge when he gets something right, correctly stating that violent crime has been falling in Britain for years.