Thursday, December 27, 2012

Effectiveness of gun control in British commonwealth countries called into question; absolute liability laws


Visitors should look at Joyce Lee Malcolm’s article on p. A13 of the Wall Street Journal Thursday December 27, 2012, “Two cautionary tales of gun control”, link here

Malcolm challenges the conventional liberal wisdom that stricter gun control laws in Britain and Australia have made them safer for average citizens (although they may well have prevented repeates of certain mass incidents).  In these countries, self-defense is not an adequate purpose to own a firearm, and the individual can be put in a legal position of surrendering his property and not defending himself.

She also points out that weapons position in Britain has been viewed as an “absolute liability offense”, which could invite framing people.  A man in 2009 was convicted and sentence to five years in prison after he found a weapon left on his property and turned it in, although he was later released.

Absolute liability, often without due process, can occur in various other areas even in America.  There are issues with civil asset forfeiture in drug cases.  There can be arbitrary designation of profiled individuals as “enemy combatants”.  Any for a few years, appearance of child pornography on a personal computer  (or even cell phone) was viewed with absolute criminal liability even if caused by a hacker or virus, although that practice seems to have changed in more recent years fortunately.  Again, these sorts of carelessly conceived judicial policies can invite framing of people.  Libertarians are right on these matters.  

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