Believe it or not, self-defense hasn’t completely disappeared in Great Britain. Reuben Gregory, a gentleman in his 70s, recently avoided a murder rap after killing an intruder in his rural home. Prosecutors actually declared that when Gregory fired upon the strangers in his home with his shotgun, he did “nothing more than was necessary to protect himself and his sister from intruders.”
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Gregory still went to jail for 10 months for the crime of “possessing a shotgun without a certificate.” He acted in self-defense, but because his firearm was unlicensed, he went away for nearly a year.
Gregory told police that he had purchased the shotgun back in the 1980s for self-defense after his home was the scene of another burglary. For decades, Gregory had maintained the shotgun without incident, but also apparently without the required paperwork. That is a “very serious matter in itself,” according to the Crown Prosecution Services.
In all my years as a gun owner, I’ve never lived in a state that required me to register or license my firearms, so I’m probably a little biased. But I just can’t see the logic in throwing a guy in jail simply because he didn’t have the paperwork permission to own a gun. And this isn’t just a British problem: New York’s licensing laws, for example, are likely to trip up tens of thousands of legal gun owners if they missed getting their pistol permits recertified by Jan. 31. If these lawful gun owners failed to renew their permits, they could be looking at more than three years in prison.
Self-defense is a human right, and our right to keep and bear arms is a constitutionally protected right. When exercising that right—especially in an act of self-defense—leads to jail time, something’s very wrong. That’s why the NRA and its members will never stop fighting for the full recognition of our rights.