Fwd: To Catch a Theif

You're sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way. With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun.. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it. In the darkness, you make out two shadows.

One holds something that looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire. The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside. As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you're in trouble.

In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few That are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless. Yours was never registered. Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm. When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter.

"What kind of sentence will I get?" you ask.

"Only ten-to-twelve years," he replies, as if that's nothing. "Behave yourself, and you'll be out in seven."

The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper.. Somehow, you're portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can't find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both "victims" have been arrested numerous times. But the next day's headline says it all: "Lovable Rogue Son Didn't Deserve to Die." The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters. As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero.

Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he'll probably win. The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you've been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.

A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven't been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted. When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn't take long for the jury to convict you of all charges.

The judge sentences you to life in prison.

This case really happened.

On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk , England , killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term.

How did it become a crime to defend one's own life in the once great British Empire ?

It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license. The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns.

Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.

Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987.. Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed Man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the streets shooting everyone he saw.. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead.

The British public, already de-sensitized by eighty years of "gun control", demanded even tougher restrictions. (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.)

Nine years later, at Dunblane , Scotland , Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school.

For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, Sealed the fate of the few sidearm still owned by private citizens.

During the years in which the British government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun.. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released.

Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying, "We cannot have people take the law into their own hands."

All of Martin's neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the consequences. Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.

When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn't were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn't comply. Police later bragged that they'd taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens.

How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kinda like cars.

Sound familiar?


"..It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.."

--Samuel Adams


ecl1958 said...

Of course, it doesn't occur to the folks who forward this stuff that the Samuel Adams quote could have been written about them...

Anonymous said...

And, that's Britain. Different history, different mores. Law school was a long time ago, but I seem to recall a fair amount of U.S. case law that says if you've got no place to retreat (and I would say your bedroom would qualify), you can defend yourself. Plus a number of states of statutes that prohibit felons from suing for injuries that occur during while commiting a crime. So, they need to note get their panties in a bunch over this.

If the U.S. were like Britain, we would have the good sense to ban Michael Savage too.

Anonymous said...

Tony Martin shot the first kid in cold blood in the back as he was pleading for his life. He also booby-trapped his house because he was a paranoid loon.
His defense lawyer even submitted that he suffered from paranoid personality disorder.

Then Martin fled the scene and attempted to hide the shotgun.

Changes the tone of the story a bit, doesn't it?

Celia said...

As Anonymous said above, Tony Martin isn't an innocent meek victim exactly. As I recall, he was a racist mental-case who shot one of his victims in the back as he was running away. And I seem to recall that that victim was about sixteen. But it's okay to shoot travellers, right?

We have a completely different attitude to guns in this country - they simply aren't as entrenched in the culture, and few people (even in cities) would have owned a handgun even before the handgun ban. It just isn't done. I do wish certain Americans would consider differences in culture rather than assuming everywhere is exactly like their country. The US culture may have fingers everywhere, but nowhere is a perfect replica.

Anonymous said...

What kind of thief doesn't run like hell upon hearing the racking of a shotgun?
Oh wait, Wikipedia and the news articles say they did. They were trying to get out through a window when Martin fired.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3,

Great point. I've often heard it said, even by "shoot first" gun nuts, that the best gun-based home protection is an unloaded shotgun. (Unloaded so nothing bad can happen accidently.) The best description in support of this was "You don't even have to say 'I have a shotgun', because as they hear [racks gun] the next thing you hear is them jumping out the nearest window."

Anonymous #1

Anonymous said...

Typical RWF with lots of incorrec info & outright lies, and then comparing the USA to something that happened in the UK. Yes, the US legal system eminated from UK commonlaw, and there are similarities in both operate. But that's where it ends.

And even I had heard about this case, where the guy shot the burgler in the back as he was running OUT of the house (or out of the window or whatever).

But rightwingnuts aren't "bothered" by common old FACTS. Much better to spin & lie & twist the truth to fit their paranoid, self-serving, delusional, selfish & frankly wierd fantasies.

Colleen said...

Also the "wake up America" bit: why do gun nuts think that the government is always trying to take their guns away from them? There isn't always a piece of legislation pending to that effect.

Or maybe, deep down, they realize that they're doing something that really ought to be regulated better?

Anonymous said...

Martin fled the scene after shooting the two men who were attempting to flee his house, killing one of them. He then fled to his mother's house and ditched the gun.

Furthermore, after he was convicted of murder and sentenced to the mandatory life imprisonment under British law (something I'm sure the wingers would just love), he was able to appeal on the grounds of diminished mental capacity and sentenced to 5 years (plus 3 to be served concurrently).

And, go figure, he's now associated with the far-right British National Party.

Truley a man after the right's own heart!

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