04 March 2008

Self-defence

In an old article, I looked at self-defence in Britain.

I came to the conclusion that the law of self-defence is good and is normally applied well. There is a very widespread but false view that those defending themselves are likely to find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

I was catching up on Samizdata today, and came across the case of Tony Singh, who had "committed the crime of fighting back", in "another of those man facing prosecution for defending himself stories".

He had fatally wounded a man who attacked him with a knife. He had been arrested and released on bail.

Fortunately for me, I was two weeks behind on Samizdata. I had not heard of the story, but I immediately predicted that a quick search would show that he had not been charged. Indeed it did, three days after the Samizdata story, which was followed by all the usual comments about the imminent end of civilisation due to the state denying any self-defence.

Now, I'm sure it was very stressful for Mr Singh to be arrested for killing someone. But realistically, anyone can claim to have killed in self-defence, and the police do have to investigate when someone ends up with a knife in their chest. But in actual cases of self-defence, there is almost zero probability of a prosecution.

The false idea that we do not have, de jure and de facto, a solid right of self defence in this country is discouraging people from exercising it, and potentially putting extra stress and pain on those who do exercise it and then believe they might be prosecuted.

People should not be moaning about prosecutions which do not in fact happen, they need to be shouting from the rooftops that we do in fact have the right to fight back.

Once that truth is established in the popular mind, we can then approach the real problem, which is that while we are allowed to defend ourselves, we are not allowed to own or carry weapons for the purpose. That should be where the battle of ideas should be taking place.

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