Mike Lindsay is a freelance firearms journalist and shooting rights advocate based in Northern Ireland, he runs a page with worldwide reach on Facebook and has garnered a following due to his ability to speak out on behalf of shooters in a climate that generally isn’t pro firearm. Mike is the official advisor to the Libertarian party in the UK for firearms and regularly lobbies government on behalf UK shooters both online and face to face.
In exclusive interview with zbrojnice.com, Mike talks about gun control in the United Kingdom, peculiatities of the Northern Ireland and inability of general population to defend themselves against criminals.
Rozhovor v češtině si můžete přečíst zde: Rozhovor – Mike Lindsay: V Británii je zločinem mít u sebe jakýkoliv předmět pro účel sebeobrany
Zbrojnice.com is a Czech language web that deals with practical, legal, cultural and social issues of civilian firearms ownership. This interview was conducted in English and thus you can read it also in original language version below.
Masmedia anti-gun bias steers the firearms debate in the UK
Mike, I will be frank. We Czechs look at UK with utter disbelief and use it as example of utter failure of gun control policies. Between gun crime 8 higher compared to the Czech Republic, rape rate higher than in South Africa, current wave of knife crime, several terrorist attacks with illegal weapons… Yet it seems that Brits are proud of their system. Why is that?
The UK public have been told for a very long time now that the gun control measures here have been a great success by government, mainstream media has a very anti gun bias and the message is repeatedly drilled home to the general population, why would they question it?…….right? I believed it myself until I started really looking into it, the thing is when you do it doesn’t take long to realise that it is far from the truth and that our governments methods have been an utter failure in regards to violent crime.
There is a general consensus in the British public now that banning things is always the answer when the truth is it never is, after all it is easier for a government to legislate against an object than address why the object is being used in the first place or indeed the societal factors leading to their misuse.
There is a difference between gun control in Northern Ireland and the Great Britain. Are there attempts to align NI with the rest of the country? If the politicians claim that gun control is so great in one, why do they tolerate different system in a part of the country?
NI has its own government (occasionally they turn up to work), they still answer to Westminster but have say on Certain issues regarding NI and due to the high levels of terrorism here and the fact MPs, police and people under threat can have concealed carry Firearms (Personal Protection Weapons) if the Chief Constable agrees, it makes sense that handguns were left alone. The average civilian has to be a licensed gun club member in order to own a pistol
Firearms possession in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland
We know that there is a complete ban on pistols and semi-auto rifles in the Great Britain. How difficult is it for an average Joe who lives in a city to become a gun owner when he simply wakes up one day and decides to arm himself?
It’s not that hard really it’s just time consuming. First you need a genuine reason to want a firearm so for example you need one for pest control or sport/hunting. So say you apply for pest control you then need no criminal record, permission from a land owner to shoot on his ground, references from people to vouch for your good character, a doctor’s letter to prove there is no reason not to be granted a license (mental health), then you need a safe bolted to a wall in your home that an officer first inspects, then you might get permission to own a rifle for using against pests. But that’s all you can use it for. You can however still have a semi auto but only in .22RF
For sport it’s the same process but you need a club etc and your firearms can only be used for the purpose of sport. That being said you can still shoot a pistol on the mainland however it has to have a fake silencer and silly coat hanger thing on the grip to make it meet a certain length, and only if you’re in a club and only you can shoot it. They remind me a bit of that scene in the 1989 Batman movie when the Joker whips out the ridiculously long revolver.”
You can still get pistols in Norther Ireland. What is the process like? What limitations are there once you get the permit?
It’s the same as the mainland in regards to licensing, however you must be a full member of a gun club for 12 months before you can apply to own a pistol. You go to the gun shop and get a bill of sale for the pistol you want, so say a Glock 17. You then apply to get the Glock put on your license so they contact the club to get reference from the owners and check you are in it etc. After a wait if all goes well you get your new license in the post and you can then pick up your 9mm for the purposes of target shooting at the specified club or for competition at other clubs.
Northern Ireland even has concealed carry licenses. How many are there? How many were issues in the last year? What is the process like?
According to a freedom of information request a few years ago there are around 3000 active conceal carry permits here, again you simply apply for it and it goes through a process where it is determined if you are in need of one. They are generally reserved for people under direct terrorist threat, police, military, MPs etc. It’s not something just given to anyone that applies or that fancies having a firearm on their person at all times. The fact remains however that we don’t see the Personal Protection Weapons being misused here and I think that speaks volumes, the trigger after all does not pull the finger.
Preparing to defend self is illegal
I know that you can’t basically carry any tool for self defense. Even pepper sprays are illegal and subject to same penalty as illegal firearms. With the rise in crime rates in the past several years, are is there any wider public effort to change laws in order to give citizens a chance to defend themselves?
Personally I’m a very loud advocate for legalisation of means of protection however the general public don’t seem to agree, again they have been told for a long time they shouldn’t have them and police will protect them and they believe this narrative to be accurate. It boggles my mind to be perfectly honest however one of my policies for the Libertarian party was the relaxation of the law for means of protection.
For comparison – in the Czech Republic pepper sprays are not only legal, but even recommended by authorities for women and elderly to carry. If a girl or a woman wants to carry a self defense tool in UK, what are her options?
Legally her options are a rape alarm, in the UK to carry something with the means to harm someone else is in itself a crime, authorities care little if it is for your protection. They would rather you were defenseless unfortunately. Every woman should have the means to ward off a rapist or attacker, in fact every citizen should have the means to protect themselves or to prepare to protect themselves.
According to the police, the black market with firearms in UK is thriving to the point that criminals toss their guns away after committing a crime. Does that change public perception of effectiveness of the current firearms legislation?
I’m afraid not, the propaganda has been extremely successful in regards to people ignoring the black market. When you mention relaxing the law for shooters the general reaction is usually one of pointing to the USA and mass shooting. They conveniently never break down the actual statistics over there or indeed look to countries like yours for inspiration.
There were proposals for further gun bans in the past year. What were they aimed against? Are they off the table for good now?
MPs wanted to ban .50cal rifles and MARS/ lever release rifles. The 50s appear to be off the table but I fear they basically put both on the bill so as when they ban the other it doesn’t seem as bad. A very old trick we have seen time and time again. It’s disabled shooters that use lever release the most so it’s yet again the vulnerable that will suffer most.
You are civil rights activist in the area of RKBA. What are your realistic mid-term goals?
Quite simply I want Firearms legislation to be based on logic and reason, the UK has went very far down the “gun control” rabbit hole and realistically I want to see a common sense approach to the subject, as I said earlier I am officially the Libertarian Party UKs firearms advisor/spokesman and was asked to set up a committee dedicated to the subject. We have now finished a starting firearms policy which has been voted on and will be publicly available soon. It is my intention to start the conversation and give shooters a party that they know is pro firearm, the policy reflects this.
If you could change three things in British gun laws right away, what would they be?
Pistols back to gun club members and sports shooters on the mainland.
Revocation of the laws regarding imitiation firearms and Airsoft guns having to be bright colours etc.
I would want to make the shooter licensed rather than the firearm, if someone is vetted and capable of firing one type and caliber I think they should be fit to own any with reason.
Second part of the interview will be published on 27 March.
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- Jim Smith: Legally armed and properly trained populace assist the government with safety and stability
- Pia Clerté: It is not possible to have any tool for the purpose of self-defense in Sweden
- Vítor Teixeira: The gradual erosion of gun rights in Portugal since 2006
- Hans Deutsch: Possession and carrying of firearms for protection is considered a taboo in Germany