Protect the Police – abolish gun control

Christopher Houseman

It’s only 5 days since I asked in a post “Are you sure you want to trust the Police to save you?”. The question has a special, unwelcome resonance for my wife and I. We used to live first in Shiremoor and then in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear – only a short drive from the recent shootings thought to have been perpetrated by Raoul Moat. In fact, I’m pretty sure we often drove past the chip shop in Seaton Delaval which was robbed on Monday. And all this only a little more than a month after Derrick Bird shot 12 people dead and wounded 11 more in and around Whitehaven in Cumbria.

Perhaps most revealing in current news coverage is the complete lack of any appetite for further gun control laws, and the apparently deliberate downplaying of the death of Chris Brown, Samantha Stobbart’s boyfriend. No doubt this is largely because of the ongoing efforts to persuade Mr. Moat to give himself up peaceably, in which context it would make little sense to play up the one death to date in this sorry tale. But I can’t help noticing something else, too. Like Derrick Bird, both Mr. Moat and the late Mr. Brown are a great advertisement for the unwisdom of gun control.

On the one hand, can we doubt any longer that even the most rigorous psychological profiling can’t ensure that lawfully registered gun owners will never pose a threat to the general public? On the other, what good are stringent gun control laws which can’t be consistently enforced? Raoul Moat, a violent felon known to have possessed guns and other weapons in the past, seems to have obtained both an illegal firearm and ammunition within 48 hours of being released from prison.

It’s time to acknowledge that the so-called “war on guns” has been lost. We might also reflect on how much heartache, blood, time and money might have been saved if the late Mr. Chris Brown had been allowed to take a gun to a gunfight instead of an iron bar. True, one could argue with hindsight that he should have taken cover and then dialled 999, but such behaviour might be exceptional in a boyfriend of just one week who was also reportedly a martial arts instructor.

But there is one more tragic twist in the tale: on the same day the withdrawal of British troops from Sangin province in favour of their American counterparts was announced, the BBC mentioned the possibility of bringing a number of armoured cars over from Northern Ireland for deployment in the hunt for Raoul Moat. Never mind looking after us or the Afghans; it would appear the agents of the British state can barely protect themselves. To paraphrase Phil Zimmerman, the creator of the PGP encryption program, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”.

Perhaps it’s time to ask the Police a question: Are you sure you don’t want the general public to be able to protect themselves – or you?

PS. At time of writing, Northumbria Police seems keen to highlight that its officers, rather than the general public, appear to be the primary focus of Mr. Moat’s anger. Maybe so, but I’m glad I’m not an unarmed civilian trying to remind an armed man and myself of that on a face to face basis.


  • I do not believe police statements that Raoul Moat is going to attack the general public. They also said it won’t be random – rather diminishing the force of the statement.

  • Obviously, Moat cannot be allowed to go round killing people and needs to be brought to justice. But the behaviour of Northumberland Police raises question marks. I remember years ago sitting in an office in London and being the only one to think it a little strange that a man had been shot dead point blank by the police at Stockwell tube station. It is important not to get taken up in manufactured panics.

    I am not saying he is not a criminal who deserves to be brought to book. But I doubt the truth of Northumberland Police’s statement that Moat is going to attack the general public. I think the police are trying to whip up maximum hysteria in Rothbury, probably to justify tough gun laws and an invasive style of policing going forward. The phone call Moat made to his friend saying he had 2 rounds of ammunition left before he shot twice at a policeman indicates that lurid accounts that he has plenty of ammunition are not based on any factual knowledge. If he is going to attack the public, then, what with? He may need to hold up members of the public for money or food etc, but I just feel dubious that a man who has run out of ammunition and is holed up somewhere and has not attacked anyone for days (indicating a lack of ammo) is imminently going to be shooting random members of the public.

    I wonder if, after he has seriously injured a policeman, the police have decided that their preferred option is an extra-judicial killing. He may come out with his hands up and no ammo – and if so, I would prefer he were taken alive, as the police have no function as a judiciary. Unfortunately, if he is found in a distant location, the truth of what occurs may not come out, as no members of the public will be there. But I am wondering if Sue Sim is trying to whip up enough hysteria to justify an extra-judicial killing.

    The police have totally invaded the village of Rothbury, and have no real proof that he is still there. I regard it as insulting to hold public meetings and give “teasing tantalizers” with no real information. If we are a sovereign people, then the police can divulge the real nature of the threat. Unless there are very hard operational reasons not to do so — which may exist — they ought not to hold back information simply because they have a technocrats’ view that it is none of the public’s business. I do not automatically believe police briefings on this matter. There may be more to this.

    Another thing that I have noticed is press reports saying his steroids may have led to his violent behaviour. But he has been in prison and significantly lost weight there and does not have muscles as large as before – I would assume his steroids have nothing to do with this killing spree.

    I would also like full details of what the police have done to him to engender such hatred of them. A 40 page letter sounds like he has quite a few grievances to air, but if so they have mostly been suppressed. I do not agree fully that anyone aiding a fugitive should automatically be subject to arrest: materially aiding a crime should be arrestable, but if he turns up at a friend’s house and is given no more than food and clothing and washing facilities, I don’t see that that friend should necessarily go to gaol for that. Unfortunately, although the police keep telling him he has a future, having started on this course of behaviour, including murdering one person, he really has no future, and hence no reason to turn back on this course of action.

  • Christopher Houseman

    Truth is the first casualty of sustained conflict – regardless of whether anyone calls it a war. At least 3 interested parties (Northumbria Police, the media, Raoul Moat and his associates) have their own agenda in the current manhunt. Who knows, for instance, how many rounds of ammunition Mr. Moat has left, apart (probably) from Raoul Moat himself?

    In this context, and given that Mr. Moat may well engage in some b&e and burglary to supplement his resources, it’s all too easy to envisage a scenario in which he might injure or even kill a householder in order to keep stolen goods and make his escape. It is in this sense in particular that I think Mr. Moat might pose a danger to the general public within his locality. And no, I don’t think he’ll want to forfeit the advantage of home ground in order to try to escape – this would be inconsistent, for instance, with his declared efforts to target members of the Northumbria Police force.

    As for the possibility of someone using the current crisis to try to call for even tighter gun control laws, I can’t help referring back to the mass media coverage of Derrick Bird’s murderous efforts in June. The media rapidly concluded that there was little more that could practicably be done both to tighten anti-gun laws further and (arguably) make the general public safer in the process.

    Now that even the anti-gun media have reached this conclusion, further unlawful killings (whether with or without registered weapons) can only fuel calls for change in the direction of liberalisation in the present climate – ideologically and pragmatically, there simply aren’t many other places left to go.

    Scrapping (or at least substantially relaxing) gun control laws would drive down enforcement costs for taxpayers via the police. It would also enable law-abiding citizens both to take greater personal and social responsibility for personal and home protection, and transform the relationship between the Police and the general public where it matters – on the streets.

    I am under no illusions that this is currently a minority position within the UK, but unless and until libertarians can start highlighting that their ideas have consequences that politically-active non-libertarians may also find desirable, I doubt we will make much progress.

    Hence my choice of title as something that appears socially responsible but is also counter-intuitive and (deliberately) provocative to many non-libertarians.

  • I don’t care about protecting the police – I want to protect MYSELF. Let the police worry about the police.

    It’s also a constitutional issue for me. The bill of rights mentions our right to weapons to defend ourselves, and this act of parliament has not been repealed, and a later judgment in the Court of Appeal has even claimed that constitutional laws, of which the judge, Mr Justice Lawes, specifically listed the Bill of Rights as one, cannot be impliedly repealed but only by express language. And yet, if you come to try to get the courts to uphold the bill of rights re: guns, you find the judges aren’t interested. What happened to the rule of law?

  • Christopher Houseman

    I agree fully with you regarding the unconstitutionality of current gun control legislation vis-à-vis the Bill of Rights, and also the remarkably selective attitude of the courts regarding such matters.

    I too would much rather protect my own family than the police, given the choice between the two. That said, though, how do you hope to reach out to non-libertarians (esp. the middle classes) with an attitude which suggests you care neither about their welfare nor that of the police?

    I agree that to you and I the fates of members of the public and the police cannot and should not normally be regarded as inextricably linked, but that’s not the way many non-libertarians would currently see your words.

    Granted, you could take the view “More fool them. Can’t they see I’m sticking up for their right to defend themselves too?” My own experience suggests people are more likely to be receptive to the libertarian message and movement when I present it with a courteous regard to their current sensibilities and priorities (however misplaced I may think them). Have you found it to be otherwise?

  • Christopher Houseman, you speak of it as a campaign to create a libertarian society, but I am not sure these arguments will be obtain any purchase on British society for some time to come. I have partly explained elsewhere that I think an individuated society, one where there is no real civil society, no little platoons, is easily annexed by the state. As society itself becomes weaker, individuals feel more fearful of their neighbours, and begin to welcome state intervention. The ongoing attempt to demographically engulf us and thus expropriate us indicates we are at the beginning rather than than an end of a negative cultural shift. Society will feel even more like a ragbag of individuals and not as a society of people who have culture and values in common in 50 years’ time – so why would those people be receptive to libertarian views? I am not optimistic at all. I think maybe all you can do is try to make money and insulate yourself as best you can.

  • Yes, it is better to try and reach people where they are rather than where one thinks they should be.
    I don’t think a “campaign” to create a libertarian society was mentioned.
    My perception it is not something one has to do. One does not have to push the truth into existence. One just has to expose the lies. The ‘factual inconsistencies’. The truth will do its own work.
    Isn’t the reality that we are being swamped with deliberate lies aimed at reducing us to mind-numbed taxation fodder?
    (I also realise that that exposure is what blogs such as this do.)

  • John B, England is not becoming a libertarian society anytime during my lifetime. I think you should enjoy the discussion and debate rather than truly expecting an implementation of Sean Gabb’s book on Culture Wars (or was it Cultural Revolution? I can’t remember the title) any time soon. For the record, I think a coup d’état or a revolution would be the best way forward, but Dr Gabb has outlined how a democratic government could simply seize its one chance to close down the managerial elite.

  • I do enjoy the discussion and debate. It is marvellous to come across intelligent homo sapiens. And it seems intelligence is a bit of a prerequisite for taking on board the concepts that make up libertarianism.
    My view is that we are probably headed for some kind of totalitarian system, but that doesn’t stop one trying to expose the lies, that would enable people to see the truth, that could indeed set them free.
    Sean Gabb’s book is good as an expose of the lies that bind?

  • Yes, you’re right. John B. They claim intelligent people are mainly left-wing, but it is not necessarily the case!

  • Christopher Houseman

    DJ, thanks for your replies. You are a good conversationist, but I’m saddend that you seem to see yourself as a kind of latter-day ark builder driven primarily by a despairing search for self-enrichment.

    Do you see the libertarian movement as a sort of intellectual candle to light your way on the road to chaos? If that’s all it is, it seems to me that the light in you is dark indeed. When did you become so angry?

    With best wishes, CH.

  • @CH, I am just realistic. Actually if I can make money, I won’t be angry at all – I’ll leave it to angry libertarians to express their frustration they didn’t manage to change society. You will feel better once you realise that some things just can’t be done, and if you have enough money and can buy a nice house etc, private medical care, you can to a large extent buy your way out of the problems of modern Britain. CH, you will be left angry, frustrated and embittered unless you understand clearly that society has embarked upon a certain path and is not going to turn back soon. By viewing conservative/libertarian ideas as an interesting proposition, you are able to kind of view it as a “hobby”, and thus cheerfully accept the society of today. Try it!

  • Christopher Houseman

    @DJ, you’re making some pretty bold assumptions about me, my approach to libertarianism, my attitude to the wider society and money alike.

    I wish you well in your quest for a happy and prosperous life, but although money certainly helps one live a comfortable life I doubt it will take away your anger towards much of the wider world. And I guess you’re resigned to trying to amass your hoped-for riches in a society doomed to be increasingly unfree and poor regardless of anyone’s efforts to change anything for the better in any way. Not an easy task.

    As I said, I wish you all the best in any case, but I wonder if a world as envious, dark and desperate as the one you portray will simply look to relieve you of your new-found wealth forcibly. FWIW, I sincerely hope not; but let’s be honest, it’s happened to plenty of others elsewhere.

    Best wishes, CH.

  • @CH, you sound quite angry with society and life. If you achieve prosperity, you’ll be happy regardless, and it would take the edge off your anger, CH! The UK is a great country to live in to make money – try to remember, your glass is half full! Politics is not everything.

  • Christopher Houseman

    Hear, hear! Politics is a long way from being everything.

  • “To paraphrase Phil Zimmerman”? Heh! The ‘guns’ version of the quip was a common bumper-sticker on this side of the water long before he adapted it.

  • Christopher Houseman

    Not surprised, Anton, and thanks for pointing it out. As an otherwise unappealing ad campaign over here put it: Recycle! The possibilities are endless.
    Now does anyone know where the ad agency cribbed that one from?

  • My email to Simon Heffer on his article about Moat and firearms:

    Dear Mr Heffer,

    I count myself a conservative’s conservative, having been published in
    the Salisbury Review a few times. I agree that the lauding of Raoul
    Moat is very objectionable. However, some things in your article are
    worth commenting further on. Firstly, the low reputation of the police
    is one that they have, sadly, worked hard to earn. They are a
    politically correct organisation whose idea of dealing with crime is
    to arrest the victims. Secondly, I need to ask what you mean by “an
    illegal firearm”. What is that? The Bill of Rights gives us the right
    to arms for our self-defence. And yet every police force in the
    country refuses to license firearms to those who say they will be used
    for self-defence. This is frankly illegal and unconstitutional – they
    may only exercise their licence regulation powers in a way that does
    not materially nullify the constitutional legislation — even Lord
    Justice Lawes said in his Metric Martyrs judgment that the Bill of
    Rights was a constitutional law, and such laws may only be repealed by
    express language of a later bill. The courts refuse to uphold our
    rights in this matter — but the judges are appointed and paid by the
    government, so the lack of a rule of law in this matter is explicable.

    I don’t think it is possible to argue that Moat’s possession of a
    weapon was illegal. We have our rights – the role of the people in the
    state is not simply to be bossed about by the authorities and we have
    the right to arm ourselves. The key point is not that Moat had a
    weapon; it is that the people of this country generally do not.
    Criminals can get weapons. The police also have access to weapons —
    the police had Tasers, but the authorities deny us our right to such
    weapons. It is idle to rehearse long-refuted arguments that the right
    to bear arms would lead to killings. In countries like Switzerland
    where the population is armed, killings are on a low level. In WASP
    areas of the US, they are also at a low level. In minority-dominated
    areas of the US, true, the guns are used, but the law-abiding are able
    to defend themselves, and not just wait for the police to arrive (and
    hand out a crime number after you are dead).

    If the Northumberland Police are engaged in activities enforcing the
    ban on firearms among the general population, then I would give them
    no more support that I would Raoul Moat.


  • The problem with this country (UK) is that after 13 years of labour government, the nation has become pussys who rely on the state on everything fuckin PUSSIES

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