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EDITORIAL: Reining in England’s busybodies

U.K. could use a right to bear arms to keep its petty bureaucrats in check

- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Second Amendment isn't meant to protect hunting. Politicians came up with this whopper as an excuse to impose silly restraints on the type of arms that can be kept. The needs of someone shooting a deer in the forest differ from those of a man who wants to fend off criminals and keep the government itself in check. Though liberals might scoff, guns are absolutely essential to preventing petty tyranny.

To see how a disarmed people are treated, one need look no further than Great Britain. There, the Conservative government announced on Tuesday it would begin the process of limiting the 1,300 reasons that local and national officials can cite as an excuse to intrude on private property -- often without a warrant. For example, if an individual fails to pay a few parking tickets or speed-camera notices, a bailiff can be dispatched to a home, walk inside and grab a television set, computer or other valuables to satisfy the alleged debt.

The British Parliament has so little regard for the sanctity of private property that it has conveyed entry powers on low-level city council bureaucrats through no fewer than 150 laws. The 2006 Health Act that introduced smoking bans nationwide also empowered investigators to enter any automobile or place of business to determine whether someone might have snuck a drag on an illicit cigarette.

The United Kingdom's Department for Energy and Climate Change boasts 52 powers of entry. The Energy Information Regulations 2004, for instance, allows global-warming detectives to enter any business and "inspect any appliance," ensuring the energy-efficiency tags on the refrigerator are accurate.

Homes receive slightly more protection in England -- unless a bumblebee happens to fly through an open window. That's because the Bees Act of 1980 states "an authorised person may at any time enter any premises or other place ... on or in which he has reasonable grounds for supposing there are or have been any bees or other things subject to control." Homes are also subject to inspection should officials suspect the presence of illegal guns. Even the Tories looking to update entry laws see no problem with such intrusion, writing this week in a Home Office report that searching houses for guns should be a "last resort."

It's a crime to obstruct any of the 15,000 government beekeepers, refrigerator inspectors, tax collectors and other busybodies with power to barge into residences and offices. The concept of the home as one's castle in England is dead. As Prime Minister David Cameron put it in an interview with the BBC in October, "If a burglar comes into your home, people aren't sure about what they are allowed to do."

There's little ambiguity on that point in America, thanks to the Second Amendment. In conjunction with the Fourth Amendment, this right stops bureaucrats in their tracks before the thought of house-to-house searches for renegade bees would ever enter their minds. The risk of resistance is simply too high, precisely as the Founders intended. The right to keep and bear arms is as much meant to keep national tyranny at bay as it is to prevent the petty tyranny of unchecked local regulators.

The Washington Times

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