The history of disarmament and why we should have the right to keep and bear arms

The history of disarmament and why we should have the right to keep and bear arms

The right of anyone to bear arms is an essential right to any society that does not wish to be ruled by tyrannical governments, let alone violent criminals, so why is it that so many people in power have a tendency to want to be on a mission to disarm society in their bid to stop most or any crime from happening to us and in turn, albeit mostly inadvertently, have the state use violence against us?

For anyone that takes the time to study history very carefully, disarming the native population of their ability to fight back was the most effective way, alongside controlling food supplies, to eventually fully rule a nation. A law passed under the former Consul Sulla in 81 BCE further banned weapons carried with the intent of committing homicide or robbing someone, on top of the pomerium (ban on carrying weapons within a large religious parameter, though it failed to stop people carrying hidden daggers) already in existance.[1][2][3][4] It was around this time or at the end of 82 BC that Sulla was also appointed dictator legibus faciendis et reipublicae constituendae causa (“dictator for the making of laws and for the settling of the constitution”) by the Roman Senate following a series of wars the Civil War of the previous 2 years. The assembly of the people subsequently ratified the decision, with no limit set on his time in office. Sulla had total control of the city and Republic of Rome, except for Hispania (which Marius’ general Quintus Sertorius had established as an independent state). This unusual appointment (used hitherto only in times of extreme danger to the city, such as during the Second Punic War, and then only for 6-month periods) represented an exception to Rome’s policy of not giving total power to a single individual. and as a result, Sulla made Proscriptions against many individuals he perceived to be enemies of the state which involved executing them and confiscating their property. According to the author Anthony Everitt from his book Cicero, up to 9000 Roman Citizens were estimated to have been killed as a result of Sulla’s Proscriptions which included Senators over the months that it took place. Helping or sheltering a proscribed person was punishable by death, while killing a proscribed person was rewarded with two talents. Family members of the proscribed were not excluded from punishment, and even the slaves were not excluded from rewards. As a result, according to Plutarch, “husbands were butchered in the arms of their wives, sons in the arms of their mothers.” The majority of the proscribed had not been enemies of Sulla, but instead were killed for their property, which was confiscated and auctioned off. The proceeds from auctioned property more than made up for the cost of rewarding those who killed the proscribed, filling the treasury. Possibly to protect himself from future political retribution, Sulla had the sons and grandsons of the proscribed banned from running for political office, a restriction not removed for over 30 years. Given how slow the numbers of purged rose to eventually being larger in volume, Putarch noted in his book Life of Sulla:

“Sulla immediately proscribed 80 persons without communicating with any magistrate. As this caused a general murmur, he let one day pass, and then proscribed 220 more, and again on the third day as many. In an harangue to the people, he said, with reference to these measures, that he had proscribed all he could think of, and as to those who now escaped his memory, he would proscribe them at some future time.”

Sulla resigned his dictatorship at the start of his second Consulship in 80 BC. Through his last gestures, he disbanded his legions and attempted to show the re-establishment of normal consular government. He dismissed his lictores (Roman Servants) and walked unguarded in the Forum, offering to give account of his actions to any citizen. After his retirement from politics, Sulla settled in the Puteoli area of Naples where he “consorted with actresses, harpists, and theatrical people, drinking with them on couches all day long.” He later died in 78 BC with a state funeral held in his honour afterwards. Sulla’s reign of power over Rome along with his reforms of Rome’s laws & constitution set an example for the likes of Octavian and his successor Gaius Julius Caesar to lead the way in their eventual rule of the newly-formed Roman Empire created from 27 BC following the War of Actium.

To place disarmament in the case of Scotland during it’s fight for Independence, the 18th Century Disarming Act was enacted by the British Parliament to curtail Jacobitism among the Scottish clans in the Scottish Highlands after the Jacobite rising of 1715 following the 1707 Act of Union which still forms the United Kingdom to the present time as of this writing. The new law, which came into effect on 1 November 1716, aimed at “securing the peace of the highlands in Scotland”.[5][6] It outlawed anyone in defined parts of Scotland from having “in his or their custody, use, or bear, broad sword, poignard, whinger, or durk, side pistol, gun, or other warlike weapon unless authorised”. However, as the act proved ineffectual at enforcing the ban, a new act was passed in 1725 for “disarming the highlands in that part of Great Britain called Scotland; and for the better securing the peace and quiet of that part of the kingdom”. This new law was enforced by Major-General George Wade who used it to successfully confiscate a significant number of weapons. Wade’s efforts to confiscate weapons of war from was proven by the number of antiquated weapons brandished by the Highlanders who answered the call when Bonnie Prince Charlie began the Jacobite rising at Glenfinnan in 1745. Nevertheless the Jacobite forces quickly acquired many of the latest British Army-issued government Land Pattern Muskets and bayonets after their resounding victory at Prestonpans. The main articles of the Disarming Act were further strengthened in the Act of Proscription 1746 following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden that same year.[7] This law became part of a series of efforts to assimilate the Scottish Highlands, ending their ability to revolt, and the first of the ‘King’s laws’ which sought to crush the Clan system in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745. The law was mainly a restatement of the earlier Disarming Act, but with more severe punishments which this time were rigorously enforced. Punishments started with fines, with jail until payment and possible forced conscription for late payment. Repeat offenders were “liable to be transported to any of his Majesty’s plantations beyond the seas, there to remain for the space of seven years”, effectively indentured servitude.

The penalties for wearing “highland clothing” as stated in the Dress Act 1746 (which applied to the whole of Scotland) were “imprisonment, without bail, during the space of six months, and no longer; and being convicted for a second offence before a court of justiciary or at the circuits, shall be liable to be transported…” No lesser penalties were allowed for banned wearing of “the Highland Dress”.[8] Provision was also included in the Act of Proscription to protect those involved in putting down the rebellion from lawsuits. Measures to prevent children from being “educated in
disaffected or rebellious principles” included a requirement for school prayers for the King and Royal family. The Act of Proscription was followed by the Heritable Jurisdictions (Scotland) Act 1746 which removed the feudal authority the Clan Chieftains had enjoyed. Scottish heritable sheriffdoms reverted to the Crown, and other heritable jurisdictions, including regalities, came under the power of the courts. These laws were finally repealed on 1 July 1782. [9][10][11]

In Ireland in the 1600s all the way until gradual reforms were made towards the country’s eventual independence, the British Empire enforced a series of laws aimed at ‘papists’ (Catholics) and dissenter protestant planters to a lesser extent which included deliberate disarmament of the Irish Catholics’ right to keep arms (An Act for the better securing the Government by disarming Papists and reputed Papists, 1 W. & M. ch. 15 of 1689).[12][13][14] The disarmament law, which introduced licensing requirements, affected not just Catholics but anyone suspected as being Catholic by enforcers of the state or alerted members of the public. The rights for those to bear arms under the law went to protestant citizens (given that the laws were created and enforced by the primarily-Protestant British Government under King William III at the time) and members of the ruling government elite. The Catholic population under the same law were also banned from owning ‘any horse, gelding or mare’, given that horses were often used for many battles. The penal laws further went on to ban catholic parents from sending their children abroad for education and in 1698 prohibited Catholics from freely gathering for mass & forced priests to register with the government so that they can comply with the strict laws as well as further subdividing land held by catholic landowners in 1704. The Catholic Population were further prevented from voting in any parliamentary elections in 1728 thanks to the Disenfranchising Act. The majority of the penal laws were removed in the period of 1778–1793 with the last of them of any significance being removed in 1829. Notwithstanding the previous enactments, the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which came into force during the Irish War of Independence, contained an all-purpose provision in section 5 removing any that might technically still then be in existence. Following it’s new status as an independent country, it wasn’t long before the first Irish Government passed new laws concerning the regulation of firearms for Irish citizens; Firearms (Temporary Provisions) Act 1924, introduced as emergency legislation following the founding of the state, was replaced by the Firearms Act, 1925, which laid the foundations of the system of gun licensing that has continued unaltered until other modifications came into play. [15] The 1925 Act stated that good reasons for wanting the firearm include:

Hunting and target shooting which qualify as do certain other activities like humane dispatch of large animals. Personal protection does not qualify as a good reason.
A safe location in which to use the firearm (for target shooting, this must be an authorised shooting range which you must be a member of and which must maintain attendance records for the applicant and which must inform the Gardaí should the applicant’s membership end).
The details of the secure storage arrangements for the firearm (which must be inspected by the local Crime Prevention Officer. Minimum standards for secure storage are set out in the Firearms (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 2009 and increase according to the number and type of firearms being stored, but higher standards can be demanded by the Gardaí before issuing a licence.
That granting the certificate would not result in a danger to the public or to the peace.
Proof of competency with the firearm or the arrangements to achieve that competency, which are met by prior experience with the firearm, membership of a club where training will be provided, or completion of a training course (however no standard for such a training course has been set and so applicants are strongly advised to check with their local Garda Superintendent or Chief Superintendent (depending on which is being applied to) as to what courses they will accept).
Permission for the Gardaí to access the applicants medical records.
Two character references.
If the firearm is a restricted firearm, the applicant must demonstrate that the firearm is the only type of firearm that is appropriate for the purpose for which it is required.
Practical and dynamic shooting (defined as “any form of activity in which firearms are used to simulate combat or combat training” under the law but applying in practice to IPSC and IDPA shooting) is banned in Ireland under section 4C of the Firearms Act except for when carried out with airsoft replicas.

Relatively small modifications were introduced in the Firearms Act, 1964, the Firearms (Proofing) Act, 1968, the Firearms Act, 1971, the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990, the Firearms (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1998 and the Firearms (Firearm Certificates For Non-Residents) Act, 2000. In 2006, such was the confusion from these multiple Acts, each amending the others (and not all of which were ever actually commenced and thus were in the public record but not enforced as actual legislation); and the amendments of Irish firearms legislation by other Acts ranging from the Wildlife Acts (mostly relating to hunting law) to the Road Traffic Acts (relating to how and where firearms could be transported) and others; the large amount of secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments, which set out regulations, the design of application forms for licences and so forth, as well as the details of when various parts of the Acts came into force); as well as the introduction of EU firearms law into the canon of Irish legislation; led the Irish Law Reform Commission to recommend that all the extant legislation be restated a legal process by which all the existing primary and secondary legislation would be read as one and a single document produced as the new Firearms Act (and all prior Acts would be repealed). The introduction of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which contained an enormous rewrite of the Firearms Act, rewriting almost 80% of the Act completely. It was quickly followed by the Criminal Justice Act 2007 and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, each of which amended all the preceding Firearms Acts. As of 2011, the Law Reform Commission recommendation still stands and has not as yet been acted upon; the Firearms Act consists of the initial 1925 Act amended by approximately eighteen separate Acts and is well understood by only a handful of those directly involved in its drafting, amendment or usage. Extensive complaints have arisen over the application of the legislation, with over seventy successfully prosecuted in the High Court by firearms owners as of 2011. Over 168 judicial review cases were taken to the High Court between 2010 and 2013 in a protracted series of legal proceedings all relating to disputed licensing decisions. Three of these cases were taken as “test cases” by the Department of Justice (Irish court rules do not permit class action suits and so each case had to be considered separately), and policy with regard to firearms licences was to be determined based on the outcome of these cases, according to the Ministerial Briefing document for the newly elected Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter. In one of these three cases, it was discovered that a senior Garda officer had modified the application forms after the legal proceedings had begun; as a result all 168 cases were settled out of court. The Minister retains the authority in law to issue a Temporary Custody Order, which compels all firearms certificate holders to turn their firearms over to the Gardaí for a period of up to three months. Target shooting outside an authorised range in Ireland is a criminal offence. However the law does not contain a definition of target shooting, and thus certain activities (such as hunters zeroing rifles before hunting) technically breach this law but in practice the law is not enforced in these specific cases.

Similar acts of disarmament through penal laws passed by the English Parliament also applied to Wales in 1402 following a rebellion by the Welsh, led by the Noble and military leader Owain Glynd?r, against English Rule. These laws not only stripped the Welsh people of the right to keep and bear arms but also their right to peacefully assemble ‘unless it be for an evident and necessary cause’, own property including castles, to have food transported to them and to be in public office. The laws eventually were repealed in 1624. [16]

In then-British India, the Indian Arms Act of 1878, pushed by the Viceroy which formed it’s own committee, prohibited native Indians, but not Europeans, from possessing, manufacturing and selling arms without license.[17][18][20] The act of 1877 law made it mandatory for any Indian wishing to own a gun to obtain a license for it. An unlicensed gun was punishable with a fine and imprisonment up to 3 years. It brought in a system where the issue of discretion was introduced and an application for a gun license could be rejected by the government for any reason. All Indians wishing to own guns were to follow the following steps:

a) Apply to the local District magistrate (DM) for a license

b) The reason as to why a license was applied and a gun needed was also to be mentioned
c) It was also required to mention the names of 2 local Indians who could vouchsafe for the character of the applicant.
The DM was required to forward this application to the District superintendent of Police (SP) who would set in motion a police verification of the Individual. The SP was required to forward the report to the DM within 30 days. The DM would then use his discretion to either approve or disapprove an arms license. Arms licenses were generally only issued to rich Indians and those who supported the Raj (the period from 1858 to 1947). Anglo Indians and British men in India were also required to follow this procedure, but arms licenses to them were issued immediately.
The arms act was applied to all areas under direct British rule but Indian states which were independent, though they accepted British sovereignty did not come under the purview of this act. These states like Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad were however advised to restrict issue of guns to local Indians and they duly complied. The original intention of the colonial rulers was to discourage arms ownership in the background of the 1857 Revolt in order to prevent the recurrence of a similar event.[19] At that time, Indians had vehemently opposed the legislation for its discriminatory nature. In a 1918 recruitment leaflet for World War I, Mohandas Gandhi, though he remained a pacifist reluctant to use firearms throughout his latter years[21], voiced disapproval of the act: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.” But the law, along with the Arms Act of 1959 proved to be a blessing in disguise for the anti-gun lobby over the years as these strict regulations on access restricted the supply of guns and reduced gun-related deaths in India.
The British-Indian Arms Act of 1878 along with the 1951 amendment after Burma’s independence from the British Empire also applied to what is now called Myanmar adding on the Arms Emergency Punishment Temporary Act 1949. Gun Licences were issued under the BSPP (Burma Socialist Programme Party) government starting from 1977 but only to those who were fully-fledged party members and serving on duty in the BSPP. They were allowed to keep three weapons including handguns, such as non-military rifles. But after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising which resulted in 350 deaths amongst the protestors, though the deaths are estimated to be between 3000-10000, the military revoked gun licenses and recalled guns. [22]

The above reasons on less gun-related deaths in India as a result of horrific events including mass shootings primarily in the United States appear to be the main excuse for why the public, notably in the west, want laws on restricting gun ownership at all costs. But in the end, criminals always end up getting their way against anyone; after all, all that Cain had to do to kill his brother Abel was hit him on the head multiple times with a rock found nearby. Plus a lot of assaults, murders and robberies that were carried out in Glasgow were often used with one particular type of weapon; bladed weapons which included knives, machetes, and even non-bladed types such as knuckle dusters with fists, knees & feet were used in assaults that left people injured or dead since the 1870s. Yet because of one tragic mass shooting at a school in Dunblane in 1996, new laws in the UK were passed specifically targeting guns instead of the most frequently used bladed weapons and most importantly, who picked up the weapon to use it in the first place. What culture caused criminals to go on a rampage in Glasgow throughout the years? The first such example is poverty. Statistically, poverty is often the driving factor for people getting involved in crimes of any kind. For many years, Glasgow often topped the government statistics for child poverty in Scotland.[23][24][25] It seems to be of no co-incidence that, though it must be emphasised that not everyone in poverty goes on to commit crimes, poverty tends to lead on to the second cause – gang culture. [26] NEDs, or Non-Educated Delinquents for short, were young, often teenage-aged, males who not only hung about in parks drinking alcohol, primarily Buckfast as has known to be associated with such a culture, and frequently wore tracksuit clothing along with caps, which many people locally recognise them as such. This definition only applied to the more modern-day stereotypes describing Glasgow Gangs. As gangs formed and became more active in Glasgow in the 1800s, though the first media reference to Glasgow Gangs only came about in the 1870s, crime escalated in the city and at one point, led Glasgow to be referred to as Britain’s answer to Chicago in the 1930s. The main primary source of weaponry for NEDs was usually knives, though razors were the primary choice for 1930s Gangs hence the name Razor Gangs arose, which they would use on anyone that dared to disagree with or confront them in any way, especially rival gangs, or were perceived to be against them. Sometimes, as was especially frequent in the past, knife victims would be left with smile-like scars around their mouths, hence the nickname ‘Glasgow Smile’ was given. It didn’t help that courts within the late 1800s offered heavy fines to gang members instead of imprisonment which resulted in fellow gang members raising ‘penny a head’ collections, thus earning the term ‘Penny Mobs’.[27] The courts did make sure that imprisonment became the main punishment afterwards but this didn’t stop many smaller gangs forming together in the early 20th century to form larger gangs such as The Tongs, the Billy Boys, the Norman Conks, The Tois, The Govans, the Powery Gang, the Soo-Siders, the Rednecks, the Baltic Fleet, the Black Diamond Gang, the Black Hands, the Nudes and the Ruchill Boys.[28] The gang culture prevalent in the older, central areas of the city such as the Gorbals which became overcrowded and substandard in living conditions, did not disappear when these areas were cleared and redeveloped following World War II, thanks in part to passages of the Housing Act 1930 and the Housing Repairs and Rents Act 1954 in the UK Parliament which required Councils to demolish poor-quality houses and build new houses in their place, with many of the inhabitants rehoused either in clusters of tower blocks or in large peripheral overspill estates like Easterhouse[29][30]; instead, as the job opportunities became limited in the post-industrial age, the structural flaws, planning mistakes and related social issues became apparent in the schemes as the years passed, and heroin addiction spread throughout the city, new gangs (in addition to some which remained in the original areas) formed in the modern environments and remained prominent for decades, particularly in Glasgow’s many areas of deprivation and poor health where generations of young people suffered in childhood and found themselves with little to occupy their lives as teenagers other than a cycle of thrilling but pointless collective recreational violence (usually fuelled by alcohol) against similar groups from neighbouring districts.[31][32] Glaswegian Gang Culture gradually declined from the late 2000s thanks in part to Government-funded police schemes such as the Violence Reduction Unit in then-Strathclyde Police, more youth projects & community-run initiatives popping up, a declination in religious bigotry & sectarianism that previously blighted the city and the rise of social media where posting profile pictures of you having a ‘Glasgow Smile’ and seeking to get a criminal record as a result of being part of a gang became more culturally frowned upon. One such organisation among many others that had success in the city was Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse (FARE) which states in it’s vision that it helps to bring people together of all ages to build positive relationships and trust, and as it’s figures have shown, this appears to have worked. As a result, 58.9% fewer young people in the Easterhouse area became involved in Youth Disorder.[33][34]

It’s worth noting that territorial tribalism existed throughout Scottish history since the time of the Romans and although the culture of overt warfare has thankfully disappeared over time, tribalism among the people sometimes does tend to revive itself in order for the individual members of the public who live in the place they belong to to feel a sense of belonging.[35] Many males who lived in the time of the Picts before, during and after the Roman Times, aged between 16 and 60, were liable for service in times of war as part of being hired henchmen via mass callouts by the Tribal Chiefs of whichever tribe they belonged to. The males would be equipped with spears and shields, the exceptionally fortunate within the family elites would have a sword. Axes, primarily functional would be pressed into effective service. According to ancient sources, the tribes allegedly valued iron above gold or silver as iron was the metal with which weapons were made. One foundry at Culduthel near Inverness showed that weapons smithing took place in some volume. More simple weapons like large fire-hardened timber staves may have equipped mass call outs. It was only when united together against the Roman Invasion did the Tribes stop fighting each other for a long while. Going back to Glasgow, albeit before the recorded existence of razor gangs in the late 1800s, there were instances of conflict that occurred while the city itself was in it’s younger years; six small islands or “inches” as they were locally called existed on the River Clyde between the old Stockwell Bridge and the mouth of the River Cart at Renfrew. which was rebuilt c.1350 AD after the first wooden bridge was pulled down until an order was passed on 18th September 1658 preventing carts on wheels from crossing over.[36] As a result of the River Clyde having a tendency to reach lower tide levels, these tiny islands proved easier for the people of Glasgow and then-Little-Govan (eventually named The Gorbals) to cross over. According to old reports, gangs of youths from both sides would take part in stone-throwing battles in order to see who would take control of the island located “in the vicinity of the old Stockwell Bridge…. for the possession of an island on the river situated opposite where Carlton Place now stands.” The death of one boy from a stone caused the sport to be scrapped.[37] With that said, Glasgow isn’t the only place in Scotland to feature gangs; Edinburgh, especially in it’s Pilton, Muirhouse and Oxgangs areas, has it’s fair share in the late 20th Century and 21st Century including the Young Niddrie Terrors, Young Clerry Jungle, Young Leith Team (not related to Leith’s brief battle to remain independent from the city of Edinburgh in 1920)[38][39], Young Pilton Derry, Muirhouse Gang and Mental Oxgangs; so did Dundee[40][41][42], Aberdeen[43] and Inverness[44][45][46]. The criminals operating in the cities and their outskirts always find a way to get themselves armed against the victims they seek to target and yet the solution to solving criminal issues always seems to focus on disarming the very populace that would help in defending themselves against them.

The modern-day disarmament of citizens in the still existing Union of the United Kingdom began with part of the Vagrancy Act 1824, which was set up in reaction to the large number of people roaming the country with weapons brought back from the Napoleonic wars. It allowed the police to arrest “any person with any gun, pistol, hanger [a light sword], cutlass, bludgeon or other offensive weapon … with intent to commit a felonious act”. It was followed by the Night Poaching Acts 1828 and 1844, the Game Act 1831, and the Poaching Prevention Act 1862, which made it an offence to shoot game illegally by using a firearm. The Gun Licence Act 1870 was created to raise revenue. It required a person to obtain a licence to carry a gun outside his own property for any reason. A licence was not required for the purposes of purchasing a gun. The licences costed 10 shillings (equivalent to about £31 in 2005), lasted one year and could be bought over the counter at Post Offices.[54]

The Pistols Act 1903 became the first law to place restrictions on the sale of firearms. Titled as “An Act to regulate the sale and use of Pistols or other Firearms”, it was short with just nine sections, and applied solely to pistols. It defined a pistol as a firearm whose barrel did not exceed 9 in (230 mm) in length and made it illegal to sell or rent a pistol to anyone who could not produce a current gun licence or game licence, unless they were exempt from the Gun Licence Act 1870, could prove that they planned to use the pistol on their own property, or had a statement signed by a police officer of inspector rank or above or a Justice of the Peace to the effect that they were about to go abroad for six months or more. The Act was more or less ineffective, as anyone wishing to buy a pistol commercially merely had to purchase a licence on demand over the counter from a Post Office before doing so. In addition, it did not regulate private sales of such firearms.

Partly spurred by fears of a possible surge in crime from the large number of firearms available following World War I and also with additional fears of working-class unrest in this period, The Firearms Act was passed in 1920. The Law was defined as “An Act to amend the law relating to firearms and other weapons and ammunition”, its main stated aim was to enable the government to control the overseas arms trade and so fulfill its commitment to the 1919 Paris Arms Convention and the Treaty of Versailes. The ongoing Anglo-Irish War may in addition have been another contributing factor, as Britain and Ireland were at that time still in union with each other, thus the Act also applied to Ireland. It required anyone wanting to purchase or possess a firearm or ammunition to obtain a firearm certificate. The certificate, which lasted for three years, specified not only to the firearm but also the amount of ammunition the holder could buy or possess. Local chief constables decided who could obtain a certificate and had the power to exclude anyone of “intemperate habits” or “unsound mind”, or anyone considered “for any reason unfitted to be trusted with firearms”. Applicants for certificates also had to convince the police that they had a good reason for needing a certificate. The law did not affect smooth-bore guns, which were available for purchase without any form of paperwork. The penalty for violating the Act was a fine of up to £50 or “imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three months”, or both.

The right of individuals to bear arms had previously been, in the words of the 1689 Bill of Rights, “as allowed by law”. The 1920 Act made this right conditional upon the Home Secretary and the police. A series of classified Home Office directives defined for the benefit of chief constables what constituted good reason to grant a certificate. They originally included self-defence. As the 1920 Act did not prevent criminals from obtaining firearms illegally, in 1933 the Firearms and Imitation Firearms (Criminal Use) Bill was submitted to Parliament. It increased the punishment for the
use of a gun in the commission of a crime and made it an offence punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment for anyone to “attempt to make use” of any firearm or imitation firearm to resist arrest. Possession of a real or imitation firearm was also made an offence unless the possessor could show he had it for “a lawful object”. The Firearms Act 1937 incorporated various modifications to the 1920 Act based on the recommendations of a 1934 committee chaired by Sir Archibald Bodkin. The resulting legislation raised the minimum age for buying a firearm or airgun from 14 to 17, extended controls to shotguns and other smooth-bore weapons with barrels shorter than 20 in (510 mm) (later raised by the Firearms Act 1968 to 24 in (610 mm), transferred certificates for machine guns to military oversight, regulated gun dealers, and granted chief constables the power to add conditions to individual Firearms Certificates. The same year, the Home Secretary ruled that self-defence was no longer a suitable reason for applying for a firearm certificate and directed police to refuse such applications on the grounds that “firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection and may be a source of danger”. The Firearms Act 1968 brought together all existing firearms legislation in a single statute. Disregarding minor changes, it formed the legal basis for British firearms control policy until the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 was put through Parliament in the aftermath of the 1987 Hungerford massacre. For the first time, it introduced
controls for long-barrelled shotguns, in the form of Shotgun Certificates that, like Firearm Certificates, were issued by an area’s chief constable in England, Scotland, and Wales. While applicants for Firearms Certificates had to show a good reason for possessing the firearm or ammunition, it did not apply to Shotgun Certificates. Firearms and ammunition had to
be kept locked up in a secure place approved by the local police firearms officer. Rifles in .22 rimfire and semi-automatic pistols were not affected by the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988.

Following the Dunblane Shootings on 13th March 1996, the government passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, defining “short firearms” as Section 5 Prohibited Weapons, which effectively banned private possession of handguns almost completely in Great Britain. Exceptions to the ban include muzzle-loading guns, pistols of historic interest (such as pistols used in notable crimes, rare prototypes, unusual serial numbers, guns forming part of a collection), guns used for starting sporting events, signal pistols, pistols that are of particular aesthetic interest (such as engraved or jewelled guns) and shot pistols for pest control. Even the UK’s Olympic shooters fell under this ban; shooters could only train in Northern Ireland (where the ban did not apply), the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or outside the UK (mainly in Switzerland). Prior to the 2012 London Olympics, British Shooting negotiated an agreement
with the Home Office to issue Section 5 Permits to a limited number of nominated elite athletes, allowing them to keep pistols and train on the UK Mainland at nominated “Section 5 Ranges”. This agreement was renewed following the Olympics and Section 5 Permits remain on issue for eligible members of the GB Squad.

162,000 pistols and 700 tons of ammunition and related equipment were handed in by an estimated 57,000 people – 0.1% of the population, or one in every 960 persons. At the time, the renewal cycle for FACs was five years, meaning that it would take six years for the full reduction of valid certificates for both large-calibre and .22 handguns bans (because certificates remained valid even if the holder had disposed of all their firearms). On 31 December 1996, prior to the large-calibre handgun ban, there were 133,600 FACs on issue in England and Wales; by 31 December 1997 it had fallen to 131,900. On 31 December 2001, five years after the large calibre ban, the number had fallen to 119,600 and 117,700 the following year. This represents a net drop of 24,200 certificates. Comparable figures for Scotland show a net drop of 5,841 from 32,053 to 26,212 certificates, making a GB total net drop of 30,041. However, while the number of certificates in England and Wales rose each year after 2002 to stand at 126,400 at 31 March 2005 (due to a change in reporting period), those in Scotland remained relatively static, standing at 26,538 at 31 December 2005.

The Act also prohibited the possession of firearms or ammunition by criminals who had been sentenced to imprisonment; those sentenced to three months to three years imprisonment were banned from possessing firearms or ammunition for five years, while those sentenced to longer terms were banned for life. However, an application could be made to have the prohibition removed.

According to Macro Trends, crime rates in the UK declined in the year before the 1996 Dunblane Shooting and after the new Firearm amendments were passed in 1997, crime rates rose again towards the end of the 1990s before declining again for a short while at the new millennium and then rising again for a time during the early 2000s.[47] Crime did decline from mid-2000s onwards before rising briefly in the mid-2010s and remaining flat lined for a while. Crime in Northern Ireland declined throughout the new millennium to the present time despite the devolved nation having an option for citizens to gain gun permits for the purposes of self defence along with hunting or sports.[48] One of the most newest forms of crime, dog theft, has been rising since the mid-2010s and in particular rose during the time of the first Covid-related government-enforced lockdowns in 2020, with the majority of thefts reported in London. These crimes involve criminals either taking the pets by stealth at home or in a public place without the owners catching them in the act or by force either out in public or in the vicinity of the homes they live in. The dogs get stolen mainly for the purposes of subjecting the dog to be a victim in dog fights, breeding the dogs in order to gain fighting dogs for criminal gangs or for selling on the dogs to make a profit. The new rise in dog thefts caused the UK Government to pass the new Kept Animals Bill which recognises pets as having feelings as well as being property.[49] Even when crime went down overall, the move to disarm the populace by any means necessary hasn’t stopped, with crossbows being the latest weapon to face ‘regulation’ by the UK Government despite the overall chances of being harmed by, let alone threatened with, crossbows being less than 0.1% but given that one lone mental man tried to climb the fence to attempt to assassinate the Queen on Christmas Day 2021… [50]
Despite deaths from Samurai Swords being generally rare in the UK, they too are on the list to be banned in the UK from 2023 unless you are a collector or martial arts group. [51]

In the specific case of Scotland, while it is true that gun deaths did overall decline, it still fluctuated in numbers leading up to the end of the 2010s, with the same applying to homicides of all forms, with males more likely to be injured and/or killed by guns than females. However, though suicides involving firearms overall declined and rose in some fluctuations towards the end of the 2010s, suicides committed in any way including firearms remained stable with no deaths being recorded below the 500 mark. In fact, suicides in the late 2010s rose on a trend towards near the numbers recorded in the late 1990s.[52] In a report published by Public Health Scotland (PHS) in 2022 titled Suicide among young people in Scotland, suicides are the main leading causes of death amongst the Scottish Youth, more than road accidents and accidental poisonings. The report said the suicide rate among five to 24-year-olds dipped in the first half of the 10-year period from 8.1 per 100,000 people in 2011 to a low of 4.4 per 100,000 people in 2015. It then rose to a high of 9.2 per 100,000 people in 2019, with those from deprived backgrounds more likely to take their own lives. The amount of suicides in the Scottish population declined slightly in 2020 despite the Covid-19-related lockdowns imposed by the Scottish Government, with valid concerns raised about vulnerable youths trapped in abusive households, but it’s clear that problems involving suicide among the youth are never going to go away unless a cultural change within society helps to solve these issues.[53]

In 2007, as part of expanding devolution in Scotland, the opposing political parties helped to create the Commission on Scottish Devolution, with the SNP being the only party to oppose it.[See also 54] This commission helped to give the Scottish Government more powers to regulate air guns. On 14 December 2012, a consultation was launched to investigate proposals for licensing air weapons in Scotland.[55] The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice foreword in the consultation paper (titled Proposals for Licensing Air Weapons in Scotland) stated that the Scottish government “[does] not intend to ban air weapons outright, but [does] not think that it is appropriate in our modern Scotland that there can be up to half a million unregistered, uncontrolled and often forgotten firearms (however, air weapons are not considered ‘firearms’ under the law) in circulation”. It stated an aim to “ensure that only those people with a legitimate reason for owning and using an airgun should have access to them in the future, and that they are properly licensed and accounted for”. In 2011/12 there were 195 offences involving air weapons in Scotland, compared to 3,554 in England and Wales. The consultation closed in March 2013 with 1,101 responses, 87% of which were opposed to the principle of licensing air weapons.[58] Despite the majority of respondents opposing the new regulations, the Scottish Parliament went ahead with passing the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 on 25th June that year which received Royal Assent on 4th August later that year and went into force on Hogmanay 2016.[56][57] The law makes it a requirement to hold an airgun certificate in Scotland to possess an air rifle with a muzzle energy of less than 12ft?lb (16J) or air pistol with muzzle energy less than 6ft?lb (8.1J). There are some exceptions for current FAC and SGC holders in that they may hold an air rifle on their current certificate and apply to add it/them when next renewing their FAC or SGC. In the long lead up to the eventual law, Glasgow MSP from 1999 to 2007, Tommy Sheridan, of the socialist political party Solidarity launched a consultation to restrict possession of air guns, highlighting cases which included the death of toddler Andrew Morton but the Scottish Parliament did not have the power to ban airguns until later on so any measures would have needed to be formally approved by Westminster. At the same time, the mainstream press gave some exposure to growing public desire to have air guns banned or regulated, particularly from the parents of a child that died after being struck in the head by a pellet in Easterhouse, a suburb of east Glasgow. The child was said to have had a skull only two millimetres thick at the point of impact. MSPs such as Kenny MacAskill claimed that Scotland has a problem with air gun violence. However official figures from 2011-2012 showed that out of the estimated 500,000 airguns in Scotland there were only 195 offences a ratio of less than 0.04%. Not all of these offences have been linked to violence with many being minor.

On top of the disarmament laws, the guidance and advice on UK Citizens to defend themselves against violent criminals try to define what & how much force a citizen can use would be considered ‘reasonable’.[59][60][61] The advice would look good on paper but in reality, has not always been taken into proper consideration when actual situations arise, especially on private property; at 12:45am on 4th April 2018, 2 men which included 37-year-old Henry Vincent decided to break into the home of 78-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks in Hither Green, South-east London, England. After Richard discovered the men in his house, Vincent brandished a screwdriver and forced Richard into his kitchen where a struggle ensued which resulted in Vincent being fatally stabbed. Vincent & his accomplice fled the house where, according to one witness, he was left behind after becoming too weak to catch up with his accomplice who fled the scene in a getaway vehicle. He later died from his injuries in hospital nearly 3 hours later. Richard was arrested by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of murder but was released without charge 2 days later following a consultation between Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as well as outrage from Richard’s neighbours.[62][63] In September later that year, 38-year-old Ronald Pattinson, who already had a reputation for violence, decided to break in to the home of 47-year-old Patrick Phinn and his partner Angela McLellan in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow so that he could rob them of money. Pattison, armed with a knife, threatened to kill Phinn and his partner which resulted in a fight breaking out with Phinn grabbing a knife – after initially being slashed by Pattinson – which he used to mortally stab Pattison a total of 17 times. After a trial in the High Court in the city, a jury found him guilty of the reduced charge of culpable homicide instead of murder which resulted in him being sentenced to 5 years in prison. The Judge, Lord Matthews, told Phinn upon his sentencing, “It is difficult to think of circumstances where provocation is more appropriate than this. This was extreme in the circumstances. However, the jury was satisfied that you went beyond what was necessary.”[64][65]
Before the UK Government made small upgrades to the laws on self-defence in 2012-2013, 2 high-profile cases in England attracted the attention of the public; In 1999, farmer Tony Martin shot dead 16-year-old intruder Fred Barrass in Norfolk as the teenager fled. He was jailed for life for murder but appealed and had the verdict reduced to manslaughter, serving three years in jail.[66] In 2008, Buckinghamshire businessman Munir Hussain was jailed for 30 months after chasing and attacking one of three intruders with a cricket bat. The intruders tied up his family as well as Hussain who somehow managed to break free to fight back against the robbers. The only intruder who got arrested, Walid Saleem, received a lesser sentence than Hussain, the latter of which was convicted of grievous bodily harm. This was later reduced on appeal.[67] Within the government’s updated guidance, “Grossly disproportionate” force remains against the law but the bar was set higher than the previous “proportionate” force test. Anyone confronted by a burglar, who genuinely fear for their safety or that of their family, and in the heat of the moment uses force that is reasonable in the circumstances – but which in the cold light of day seems disproportionate – will not be guilty of an offence. That may, for instance, include picking up and using a weapon. The new law got challenged in 2016 by the family of Denby Collins, a burglar who was left in a coma after being restrained by a householder in Gillingham, Kent in 2013. His family argued that the law contravened Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights which protects a person’s right to life, but the High Court rejected their claim. The judges, however, said that the law itself did not “give householders carte blanche in the degree of force they use against intruders in self-defence” and it was ultimately for a jury to decide if a “householder’s action was reasonable”.[68]

As the cause of communism began to rise at the end of the 1910s which the working classes & workers’ unions looked up to as an alternative to the existent imperial empires that didn’t treat them right, the given right to bear arms against the dying government of the Russian empire was granted thanks to Vladimir Lenin’s Declaration of Rights of the Working and Exploited People in 1918. Afterwards, the Soviet government made immediate alterations for those on whom it did not rely. The December decree of the Councils of Peoples’ Commissars (CPC) that same year, “On the surrender of weapons”, ordered people to surrender any firearms, swords, bayonets and bombs, regardless of the degree of serviceability. The penalty for not doing so was ten years’ imprisonment. Members of the Communist Party were allowed to have a single weapon (a pistol or a rifle) and possession of the weapon was recorded in the party membership book.
On December 12, 1924, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR promulgated its degree “On the procedure of production, trade, storage, use, keeping and carrying firearms, firearm ammunition, explosive projectiles and explosives”, all weapons were classified and divided into categories. Now the weapons permitted for personal possession by ordinary citizens could only be smoothbore hunting shotguns. Other categories of weapons were only possessed by those who were assigned duties by the Soviet state; for all others, access to these weapons was restricted to within state-regulated shooting ranges. Illegal gun possession was severely punished. Since March 1933 the manufacture, possession, purchase, sale of firearms (except for smoothbore) hunting weapons without proper authorization was punishable by up to five years in prison. In 1935, the same penalty was imposed for possession of knives. During the Great Patriotic War, the civilian population had to hand over all personal hunting weapons to the Red Army for defence against the German invasion. The same was true for weapons left by retreating German invaders in the war. They were to be surrendered to Red Army troops, the NKVD or local Soviet authorities within 24 hours. Cases of stolen weapons were also brought to criminal justice.
After the death of Stalin in 1953, the USSR saw a small wave of liberalisations for civilian gun ownership. Soviet civilians were allowed to purchase smooth-bore hunting shotguns again, even without mandatory submission of hunting licenses. However, this lasted for not more than six years. The buyer again had to pre-register in the Soviet Society of Hunters since 1959. With the introduction of the new Criminal Code in 1960, penalties were significantly reduced for illegal possession of firearms, down to a mandatory two years of imprisonment, while the possession of melee weapons was no longer prohibited in the Soviet Union.
Fourteen years later, the punishment for illegal purchase, keeping and carrying of weapons was increased again to five years’ imprisonment. However, unregistered rifles that were voluntarily surrendered were met without responsibility or punishment. These laws were all repealed after the collapse of the USSR.[69]
The Weimar Republic which existed from 1918 to 1933 passed laws regulating the use of firearms, espeically after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles post WW1.Article 169 of the Treaty targeted the state: “Within two months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, German arms, munitions, and war material, including anti-aircraft material, existing in Germany in excess of the quantities allowed, must be surrendered to the Governments of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers to be destroyed or rendered useless.” Article 177 further banned all civilian use of firearms, any civilian instruction on their use, and any civilian shooting exercises activity, especially banning all organizations or associations from taking part in any such use and/or activity or allowing it to happen, in order to crush down on perceived Prussian militarism of the German people in general. In order to comply with the Versailles Treaty, in 1919 the German government passed the Regulations on Weapons Ownership, which declared that “all firearms, as well as all kinds of firearms ammunition, are to be surrendered immediately.” Under the regulations, anyone found in possession of a firearm or ammunition was subject to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 marks. On August 7, 1920, rising fears whether or not Germany could have rebellions prompted the government to enact a second gun-regulation law called the Law on the Disarmament of the People. It put into effect the provisions of the Versailles Treaty in regard to the limit on military-type weapons. However in spite of their intentions, all these laws failed to effectively put a complete stop to gun use and ownership. To fix this and fully comply to the Treaty, in 1928 the Law on Firearms and Ammunition was enacted. It relaxed gun restrictions as to ownership (but not as to their use and instruction on their use, as these were still illegal according to the Versailles Treaty) and put into effect a strict firearm licensing scheme. Under this scheme, Germans could possess firearms, but were required to have separate permits to do the following: own or sell firearms, carry firearms (including handguns), manufacture firearms, and professionally deal in firearms and ammunition. Furthermore, the law restricted ownership of firearms to “… persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit.” Car associations lobbied for an easy gun permit for car owners which was granted by the government for drivers travelling often in the countryside. The 1928 Law proved to be the fatal shot to the Jewish population of Germany after the National Socialists (Nazis) took power in the 1932 Federal Elections with Adolf Hitler becoming the new leader in early 1933. The Nazis often used the excuse of “searching for weapons” as a justification for raids and searches of homes. Because the weapons law of 1928 gave the police the authority to issue or withdraw weapon permits, Jewish weapon owners were disarmed through warrants issued by the police. For instance, the president of the police of Breslau enacted an order on 21 April 1933 which stated that Jews had to give their weapons and shooting permits to the police immediately. After the Jewish population was judged as not to be trusted, no weapon permits were issued to them. The weapons law was also used for searches of homes and raids. The preface for that was the allegation that the victims of these searches stored large amounts of weapons and ammunition. A prominent example involved the Physicist Albert Einstein, whose summer residence in Caputh, near the Schwielowsee was searched in spring 1933. The only item found there was a bread knife. Raids, for instance on 4 April 1933 at the Scheunenviertel in Berlin, also took place. Not only many weapons were found, but also a lot of publications that included criticism of Nazi Germany. Sometimes, Jews without residence permits were also found and arrested. Starting in 1935, the Gestapo prevented the issue of weapon permits and weapon purchase permits to Jews. The police authorities were the executing authorities, and had to comply with the orders issued by the Gestapo. The self-defence of Jews was abolished and they were subjected to the arbitrariness and terror of the police authorities, without the need to introduce a new law for this. In 1938, the Nazi Party thoroughly reformed weapons law. Today, the Waffengesetz of 18 March 1938 (RGBl I, 265) is sometimes seen as a relaxation of existing regulations, even though it solely benefited privileged members of the NSDAP and its associated organizations. The law stated that certain groups of NSDAP officials did not need any permit anymore for weapons possession. Amongst them were Unterführer of the NSDAP, starting from Ortsgruppenleiter, the Sturmabteilung, the Schutzstaffel, the National Socialist Motor Corps and also the Hitler youth, starting at Bannführer. The new weapons law also prohibited the possession of any weapons to certain groups of people, namely Gypsy Travellers and all individuals who lost their “Civil Honors” or who were under supervision of the police. The latter also included people convicted due to homosexuality. Directly after the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), the possession of any weapons by Jews was prohibited through the Verordnung gegen den Waffenbesitz der Juden, enacted on 11 November 1938 (RGBl. I, 1573). A contemporary report of the apostolic nuntius of Berlin to Eugenio Pacelli about the Kristallnacht stated: „Also, all weapons were taken from the Jews; and even though the purpose of that was altogether different, it was good, because the ideation of suicide must have been enormous in some.“[70][71]
Gunpowder was first invented in China in the Tang Dynasty during the 9th Century with the first definitive written record of chemical formulae found in the mid-11th century Song dynasty military compendium Wujing Zongyao, and the very earliest possible reference dating to the Eastern Han dynasty. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, matchlock muskets were used in China, with the Chinese using the term “bird-gun” (??) to refer to muskets. Right after the beginning of the Chinese Civil War on 7th August 1927, the Chinese Communist Party held an emergency meeting where future leader of the PRC Mao Zedong first used the term, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. He used the term again during a concluding speech he gave at the Sixth Plenary Session of the CCP’s sixth Central Committee, where he spoke of how war could only be ended with war and that, “in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun” the latter of which he advocated the working classes to do as a result of the tyranny of the ruling classes for thousands of years. The country’s strict centralized stance on gun control officially started in the country in 1966, and extended in 1996 when the government banned the buying, selling and transporting of firearms without official permission. According to the Chinese police, up until 2006, an underground gun-trading triangle in Southwest China fed the Chinese gun market, with guns being manufactured in Songtao and trafficked into Xiushan and Huayuan before reaching a national distribution scale.[72]
According to official figures, from June to September 2006 (6-month crackdown) the Chinese authorities confiscated 178,000 illegal guns, 3,900 tons of explosives, 7.77 million detonators and 4.75 million bullets. In 2007, a study released by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies estimated that around 40 million guns were owned by Chinese civilians, a gross over-estimation according to Chinese analysts.
Firearm ownership in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau is tightly controlled and possession is mainly in the hands of law enforcement, military, or private security firms (providing protection for jewelers and banks). Still, possessing, manufacturing, importing, or exporting airsoft guns with a muzzle energy not above 2 joules (1.5ft?lbf) is legal to citizens in China’s SARs.
Firearms control was inherited during British and Portuguese rule and more or less retained today. Under the Section 13 of Cap 238 Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance of the 1981 Hong Kong law, unrestricted firearms and ammunition requires a license. Those found in possession without a license could be fined HKD$100,000 and imprisonment for up to 14 years.
In Cambodia, gun laws were on the books between 1920 and 1938, thanks in part to the French Empire occupying the country at the time, to require the licensing of firearms and ownership was limited to hunters. These laws were ultimately taken advantage of by the communist Khmer Rouge regime (which lasted from to 1975 to 1978) to slaughter between 1.5 and 3 million Cambodians, including about a half-million members of ethnic minority groups. The regime also ended all private firearms ownership with all arms transferred to the government.[73][74]
Despite the rather globalist trend towards gun control, not every country bucked to the loud demands; Notorious for it’s political corruption and violent crime, especially while lingering in the top countries in the world for homicidal crimes (at one point ranking number 1 in 2016), Brazil seems to have surprised the experts in the last 3 years with homicidal rates declining to those not seen since the early 1990s. This is despite Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s president from 2019 to 2022 in his allocated 1st term, helping to pass new laws and regulations which make it easier for Brazillian citizens to own guns in their country. On January 15th 2019, 14 days after he was sworn into power as a result of being elected in the country’s 2018 Presidential Election, Bolsonaro signed a decree waiving the requirement for an interview with a federal police officer to demonstrate the need for a firearm at home. It also increased gun licences’ validity from 5 years to 10. Furthermore Brazilians are now allowed to keep up to four guns in their homes or places of business However, if there are children or anyone with mental deficiency living in the home, citizens applying to possess weapons need to declare they have a safe. On May 8th later that year, a new executive order raised the limit on ammunition purchases from 50 to 5,000 cartridges for permitted guns, and 1,000 cartridges per year for restricted weapons. The procedure to transfer the ownership of a firearm is simplified. Imported firearms restrictions are reduced, giving Brazilian better access to firearms both local and abroad due to increased competition among manufacturers. Hunters, collectors and sports shooters are now allowed to transport ammunition in their firearms, which had earlier been prohibited. The demand from the Brazillian people for better gun rights has been consistent over time; a majority of Brazil’s population (63.94%) voted in a 2005 referendum against a proposal pushed by the government and then finalised as legislative decree 780 by the Federal Senate, which authorized the referendum. Article 2 of its decree stipulated that the public consultation should employ the following question: “Should commerce in firearms and ammunition be prohibited in Brazil?”. This outcome was achieved despite widespread and even global media coverage favouring the anti-gun campaigners, along with the United Nations, who pushed hard to persuade the people to vote Yes in the referendum. Then-president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva also supported the ban. When the No Campaigners found out the result of the referendum, their statements were somewhat gracious, as issued by Denis Mizne of the anti-violence group Sou da Paz: “We didn’t lose because Brazilians like guns. We lost because people don’t have confidence in the government or the police,” said Denis Mizne, of anti-violence group Sou da Paz. The ‘No’ campaign was much more effective. They are talking about a right to have a gun – it is a totally American debate.” With Brazil’s emergency response times being amongst the worst in the world, with the average response times in some areas being 21 minutes, with much worse response times of at least an hour or more allegedly reported in poorer areas of the country’s largest cities, it’s no wonder that many Brazillians are right to be distrustful of the authorities.
A year before the referendum, however, Executive Order No. 5.123, of 1 July 2004 was issued which allowed Brazil’s Federal Police to confiscate firearms which are not possessed for a valid reason; self-defense was not considered a valid argument. The new laws passed appear to be a relief for many Brazillians as they struggle against crime caused primarily by Organised Gangs and battles made between rival drug gangs, mainly the First Capital Command (PCC) and the Red Command, both of which proved to be highly influencial in the country. Many of the laws stretch back to the early 1940s; particularly since 1941, on top of the minimum age being 25 years old, it has been illegal to bring a weapon outside the house without authorization, with the exception applied to Police Officers. Following the decades since the 1930s with more powers centralised to the state, especially during the Vargas Era, a coup from the Brazillian Armed Forces backed by the United States Government on 1st April 1964, a new military dictatorship arose which lasted for just over 20 years but not without making restrictive amendments to Brazil’s Constitution including it’s presidency which included censorship beginning in 1968 and going on to kill or disappear at least 434 citizens as well as torture 20000 more including the indigenous population. Eighteen gun-control laws and regulations were imposed during the period from 1992 to 2003. For citizens to legally own a gun, they must have a gun licence, which costs 88 Brazillian Reals and pay a fee every ten years to renew the gun register. The registration can be done online or in person with the Federal Police. Until 2008, unregistered guns could be initially registered at no cost for the gun owner, the subsequent referring fee each decade would then apply. Many rules were and are extremely restrictive: For example, a 1997 law required anyone applying for a firearm license to have a psychological test and knowledge of operation of firearms, and a 1999 law limited each person to two handguns. As of 2017, just over 8% of the Brazilian population privately own firearms with just under half actually being registered to the authorities. As expected, the only types of people that would be able in own firearms in Brazil include police officers and the wealthy with violent criminals and gang members feeling the advantage of being the majority who own unregistered firearms. Approximately 80% of the weapons manufactured in Brazil are exported, mostly to neighboring countries including the United States; many of these weapons are then smuggled back into Brazil. Some firearms in Brazil have come from police and military arsenals, having either been “stolen or sold by corrupt soldiers and officers.” [75][76][77][78][79][80]

Upon fighting for it’s independence from the British Empire starting in 1775 with the Battle of Concord and ending with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the then-13-colonies of the United States of America formed themselves to become a new country with a new constitution subjected to very rigorous debate in the late 1780s until it got ratified on 25th December 1791. Amongst the constitution included a Bill of Rights containing at first 10 amendments, the 2nd of which guaranteed not just ‘a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state’ but also ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed’. The rest of the amendments included the right to freedom of speech & to peacefully assemble (1st Amendment), the right not to be subject to unwelcome property breaches by soldiers of the government (3rd Amendment), the right not to be subject to unwarranted searches and seizures of property (4th Amendment), the right to a fair trial with a jury (5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Amendments) and a decentralisation of powers to the local states away from the national Federal Government (10th Amendment). New amendments including the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were put in place to abolish slavery, make sure everyone is treated fairly in the country regardless of background & identity and that many had the right to vote regardless of background & identity (which also included the 19th Amendment recognising the right of women to vote). The 17th Amendment ensured that Senators of the upper house of the federal government were directly elected by the people instead of by the state legislator. Before the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution existed, The English Bill of Rights passed in 1689 after the events of the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution stated that the primarily protestant population of England can keep and bear arms but only under certain conditions within the laws provided. [86] When the 2nd Amendment was written into the American Bill of Rights within their constitution, it ensured that every citizen in the United States was allowed to keep and bear any weapon they wished to own without interference from central government. [81][82][83] The Founding Fathers, when they wrote up the declaration of independence as well as the constitution, made clear that it was to be used by the people to stop the government on their own doorsteps from becoming too tyrannical; as Alexander Hamilton highlighted in Federalist Paper #28 [84], the ways that both local state governments and the national government can become a bit too tyrannical for the American Public’s liking and as such, they have the right to form their own community to help overthrow it. With that said, however, there were certain skeletons in America’s closet that it still had to get rid of [85]; slavery of mainly the black african-american population was still taking place, even when the founding fathers themselves personally denounced it. While the northern states passed abolitionist laws which helped to spurn a new movement against slavery, many southern states still kept slavery happening to the delight of the upper plantation elites. Congress did get around to banning the importation of slaves in 1808 but it still didn’t stop slaves from being smuggled into the country. It was only after the Civil War that broke out from 1861 to 1865 that slavery was fully banned nationwide thanks to the 13th Amendment passed by the Senate and then the House of Representatives and was then ratified by all of the states existing. As slavery was abolished, the 14th Amendment when it was also passed formally recognised black citizens Women also didn’t quite have as much legal rights as men did and it was only when the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920 did they finally have the right to vote in elections alongside men. When mass shootings, especially in schools, first began in the 1960s leading up to the present day, panic always ensues, especially with how the mainstream press report on the situations, which in turn causes the politicians in power to propose and/or follow through with gradually cracking down on the right to keep guns according to the 2nd Amendment, even when the definitions of mass shooters tend to be variable and the societal issues that cause killers to go on mass rampages get pushed to the side. Even when the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) published a study in 2013 highlighting how self-defence involving guns is more likely than for deliberate violent activities, it still hasn’t stopped the loud push for gun control. [87][88][89][90][91] When some gun control groups considered pushing for Credit/Debit Card companies like Visa and Mastercard to flag up and financially stop purchases of firearm ammunition in 2022 [92], it effectively introduces a corporatist form of gun control not necessarily enforced by the state but pushed by the back door on companies that help to process monetary transactions for your everyday necessities. Violent crimes reported in the United States generally tend to vary in data depending on the location; while it is true that the top 10 US States for violence include both Democrat and Republican-run areas [93], it has been acknowledged that the top 10 most violent cities have Democrat mayors [94][95] of whom their party has lately leaned towards decriminalising certain forms of violent activity such as shoplifting for items valued under $950 in California since 2014 [96] and the state of Illinois pushing for the end of cash bail and restricting what the police can do to criminals come January 2023 [97]. Despite the state of New York pushing for more gun regulations, it has not stopped the number of murders rising in recent years, especially on the city’s subway trains despite less people overall using the underground transport system. [98]

A Rasmussen poll in late April 2022, taken after the 14th April 2022 Brooklyn Subway shootings committed by a radical Black Supremacist, found that 70% of Americans whose income was $200k per annum were much more likely to support gun control than their more working & lower-middle class counterparts who earned between $100k & $50k or less per annum (38%). Considering that the economically richer americans, often amongst the celebrity & political elites, are more likely to afford security as well the ability to purchase property in gated housing estates, isn’t it be rather hypocritical to ask the same system they complain opresses minority groups in the US to defend their houses for them? [99][100]

From the days of the picts to the wars of independence and eventual integration into the United Kingdom, many in the mass populace automatically seem to get used to the idea that only the worthy in society would be allowed to keep and own weapons, especially for times of combat should war occur, though sometimes you don’t need to be formally in the army for the worthiness test to take effect. Before Ukraine got invaded by Russia on 24th February 2022, and is still in battle at this time of writing, almost 10% of Ukrainian Citizens privately owned firearms according to the Small Arms Survey from 2017. The Ukrainian Parliament passed a new law (“On the right to civilian firearms” (No. 5708)) the day before the invasion which fully allowed Ukrainian citizens to carry guns in public. [101][102] President Vlodomymyr Zelensky stated in a tweet, “We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities”. [103] If the fear amongst other former soviet countries in Europe, especially in the Baltics, is correct, why not pass similar laws right now in order to help give the citizens of those countries extra time to prepare for the worst and possibly have a better fighting chance in the long run? Given the trend of not wishing to own firearms in the house, combined with the fact that the only political parties in Ukraine who want a real right to keep and bear arms (Svoboda, Right Sector and National Corps) lean politically far-right, which in turn makes citizens distance themselves from wanting to be associated with them, this trend has most likely tragically led to a more uphill war against the Russian Government whose past Soviet counterparts disarmed them before. [104][105] Like what is happening in Ukraine today, the emergence of new army regiments such as the Cameronians in the 1600s after rebellions made against the rule of the crown, in this case on the grounds of practising religion, made Scottish males feel a sense of honour and duty to defend their nation from corrupt governments but as the unit, like any other army unit which serves with a natural hierarchy, was merged into the British Armed Forces, combined with a growing presence of ground police in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, many felt that the obligation of those who wield the arms should be best served with those in a responsible position of power. Whoever gets to propose who is worthy to receive arms frequently includes the very same type of government that likely would want to eventually repeat history against anyone they don’t like. Guns can be useful from time to time in saving another person or peoples’ lives from bad criminals [106] (for instance, the charter of fundamental rights and freedoms for both the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic states that, “right to defend own life or life of another person also with arms under conditions stipulated by law”, though you still have to apply for a licence with an exam and background checks as a citizen. [107] Yet despite the wider availability of guns in the Czech Republic with 12.7% of the population privately owning firearms with just 5.6% of Scots and more diverse arrays of guns at gun ranges, even in Poland where fewer citizens own guns at 2.5%, the crime statistics show that Prague tends to lean as being more physically safer than Glasgow – the same applying to Krakow in the case of Poland [108][109][110]) but this still does not stop the one big reason stated by gun controllers which is that the lethal force of a bullet whenever it is fired from a gun is explosive upon impact, especially on a human being, along with the ranges (supposedly) encouraging an appetite for gun violence as well as toxic masculinity but then again, similar anti-danger arguments about lethal force can be made towards vehicles used by human beings so therefore we should never own any vehicles, lest they might be used by the wrong people to run over and kill others. The same logic would apply to chef’s knives, lest the wrong person might use it to stab and kill someone or multiple people. If you keep lots of bricks on your driveway for construction purposes, beware of the chance that yourself or other folk would grab a few or several to hit someone and/or vandalise your neighbour’s property. Similar logic about other less lethal items could be applied in the same context; for instance, the wrong person who owns a music speaker or radio might use it to drive their neighbours insane all through the night with the volume placed up high for their favourite hits. Or maybe there is a chance that with certain fruits and vegetables that you bought as part of your grocery shop, such as grapes, onions, etc, you might deliberately throw them over the fence into your neighbours’ garden or just leave them on public grounds intent on getting dogs to be poisoned by way of eating them and possibly dying as a result, much to the distress of dog owners. With police authorities increasingly no longer being able to answer vital calls about burglaries down south [111][112], it is only a matter of time before the public decide to form a strong community and possibly take things into their own hands. The religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam teach that it is acceptable to use self-defence in certain situations [113][114][115][116], though Buddhism condemns it [117] and Hinduism is split over it [118], with one side of the very latter being completely against violence altogether and the other for it in justified situations without excessive violence & land theft in war. Heck, if the fear of China wanting to invade Taiwan has the Taiwanese in a panic [119] or the fear of more terrorists wanting to carry out deadly attacks in Israel makes the citizens there feel terrified of going about their lives disarmed [120] or the half-fear of Britain possibly wanting to invade Ireland again because of Brexit, according to a professor who wrote an editorial blog on RTE, has the Irish in a state of fear[121], maybe consider the case for an armed society being a good back-up to the army failing to do it’s job in repelling invaders. The case for a calm, polite armed society is there but will we ever try to make it to become reality away from the fear and hatred towards each other? Only time will tell.

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This is a guest article by Jonathan Rainey.

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