Basic right of self-defense restored in Britain

Yes, believe it or not, it hasn’t existed in any meaningful sense for a good long while, resulting in legal atrocities like this. But now, at last — hope and change?

Home owners and “have-a go-heroes” have for the first time been given the legal right to defend themselves against burglars and muggers free from fear of prosecution…

Under new laws police and prosecutors will have to assess a person’s actions based on the person’s situation “as they saw it at the time” even if in hindsight it could be seen as unreasonable.

For example, homeowners would be able stab or shoot a burglar if confronted or tackle them and use force to detain them until police arrive. Muggers could be legally punched and beaten in the street or have their own weapons used against them…

In practice, householders are seldom prosecuted if they harm or even kill an intruder but the Act will give them greater legal protection.

The Tories insist that the new law does nothing but restate the law as it stands but there are at least two novelties in the bill according to the Telegraph. For one thing, they’re shifting away from an objective standard of reasonableness, which invites the jury to second-guess defensive actions taken in the heat of the moment, and towards a subjective standard, which would serve people like Joe Horn much better. For another thing, it sounds like the act gives cops and prosecutors new discretion in opting not to press charges against victims. Needless to say, there’s a big difference between having a right to self-defense that can only be asserted in front of a jury when you’re on trial for murder and a right that can be asserted pre-trial as an argument for dropping the case. But I know nothing about British law so let me stop there. Your time is better spent reading this piece from 2004 detailing the slow, steady starvation of the right over the past century in the UK. Don’t click if you scare easily.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023