Kevin Baker helps clear up a number of misconceptions, and it gets to something I’ve been talking about with Bitter as the riots raged on. Britons do not have access to handguns and semi-automatic firearms, but they do have access, and not terribly difficult access, to shotguns. I would not feel badly armed with a traditional English side-by-side and plenty of buckshot, even in a riot. The problem isn’t that British society has been disarmed by some evil, malevolent force; it chose to disarm itself, and that is the greater problem. You could bring the very same self-defense laws for England and Wales here to the Untied States, and not much would change; juries are still going to acquit people who defend themselves, no matter what the law says.
I’ve been interested to see whether this causes any kind of sea change in British attitudes toward self-defense and weapons generally. I don’t expect the British to ever have the same type of outlook toward this subject as Americans, but a key thing to watch is whether the police are inundated with applications for shotgun certificates and Â firearms certificates. If that’s the case, that will be good evidence that these riots were a wake-up call to the British people, and attitudes may be changing.