Actions that would have one time been seen as helpful to the police are now prosecuted and punished. Faced with such actions – defence of homes, citizens' arrests of street robbers and so forth – police chiefs complain about citizens 'taking the law into their own hands'. This is an interesting use of language. The law, as it has existed for centuries, is in the hands of the English people, and is shared by them with a police force who are supposed to be citizens in uniforms.Ist der Begriff Bürger in Uniform je auf deutsche Polizisten bezogen worden? Hitchens fährt fort:
One of the most important duties of the modern police force is to ensure its total monopoly of violence and enforcement. The common law has been taken from the common people, and their attempts to enforce it themselves are punished more severely that crime itself. Thus is why citizens who unintentionally kill suspects during attempted crimes are prosecuted and imprisoned while police officers who do the same thing are generally exonerated. It is not the action itself that is wrong – or police officers who have mistakenly shot suspects would be languishing in jail. It is the fact that a private individual rather than a representative of the elite state has done the shooting. The police are now a special body of armed men with special powers far beyond those of the ordinary citizen.Instruktiv sind auch die von Hitchens gezogenen statistischen Vergleiche:
Under the welfare state (of 1966) there were 35000 people in prison, in the 1930s, when life had been much harder, there had been only 11000.Vermutlich ließen sich für Deutschland ähnliche Zahlen ermitteln. Hitchens selbst zieht nur gelegentlich das Ausland zum Vergleich heran:
Before the outbreak of WW1, murder, the worst of all crimes, seldom rose above 170 and often fell below 130 a year (these numbers include deaths from backstreet abortions and infanticides). Courts at that time were far less likely to accept pleas of manslaughter, and primitive medical treatment meant that almost any serious wounding could result in death whereas nowadays thousands of such injuries are successfully treated by the National Health Service.
These totals for a society far poorer than most of us can imagine [...]. There were no laws restricting the ownership of guns or knives. Transportation and the hulks had been abolished, as had public execution. There were no social services and very few benefits, targeted or otherwise, offered by the state or local authorities, apart from the workhouse. Trade union membership was small, council housing non-existent and state pensions for the elderly unknown until the very end of the period.
Even if recent suggestions that the crime figures of the era were manipulated are true – and given that most English police forces were locally controlled and crime was not a major political issue, one has to wonder why anyone should have manipulated them – the difference between then and now still cannot be explained by worsening social conditions [...]. The highest levels of crime in memory have occured at a time of unheard-of prosperity, health, social welfare provision, good housing and material contentment [...].
Over the period 1951–91 the number of police officers increased from roughly 1.4 per thousand to roughly 2.5 per thousand. This increase has coincided with an increase in crimes of all kinds. It is important to add that the police have been joined in their large new office buildings by tens of thousands of backroom staff whose job is to do the tedious paperwork that is supposed to be tying down so many officers. They have also been relieved of many duties – enforcing car parking rules, checking shops and factories by night, organizing prosecutions. [...] So the true increase in manpower is even greater than appears from the figures.
Those who are convinced that America's gun law is a crazed relic of frontier chaos do not even know that this law is based on England's 17th century revolution against autocracy. Respectable citizens in this country used to own and even carry guns without a second thought, long after the Victorian police forces established order in the towns and countryside. In pre-1914 London there was a famous incident, the 'Tottenham Outrage' of 1909, where, when the police came under fire from an anarchist gang, they borrowed guns from the citizenry and appealed to members of the public to help shoot down the gang members.In der Gegenüberstellung der US-amerikanischen Verhältnisse mit denen im nicht minder waffenvernarrten Kanada war der Dokumentarfilmer Michael Moore zu einem ähnlichen Ergebnis gekommen.
Conan Doyle's great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, frequently set out on his private missions with a revolver, as did his colleague, Dr. Watson. It is quite clear from the stories that the author expects his reader to think this is entirely normal and legal.
If the theory that more guns produce more crime were correct, England's own past could not have existed. Switzerland's present orderly peace would also be impossible.