A while back, I posted something about the importance of gun amnesties in the UK – what they are designed for and why they work. In that post, I talked a lot about how guns (particularly those that are kept as war memorabilia and the like) can be used by gangs to gets more guns out into the UK black market – even if said weapons had been decommissioned.
The long and the short of it is that the position I took on this was that I understood how these war-trophy weapons were seen by their owners but that they should be handed in under the amnesty that West Midlands police were running at the time…
And then this happened…
Albert Patterson, a 65 year old, former SAS, war veteran who served in the Falklands War was jailed earlier this month. His fifteen month sentence was for one thing and one thing only – for owning a 9mm hand gun that he had brought home after the war and kept as a tribute to the 22 colleagues who didn’t return when the fighting ended.
Now, I became aware of this story because my father sent me a link to a petition (that currently has just over 150,000 signatures), which is calling for the Attorney General to release Patterson on the grounds that of his hero status and his post-SAS humanitarian work.
This story left me with something of a dilemma.
On the one hand, Patterson committed a crime – it is an offence to own a weapon like this, regardless of how he came by it. More to the point, the reason why it is a crime is because guns like these have an annoying habit of ending up on our streets one way or another – more guns on the streets leads to more gun crime. More gun crime leads to more senseless deaths.
It doesn’t matter how much of a hero he is, his actions have the potential to cause a loss of life – albeit indirectly.
But then again, can’t the same be said of driving a car? Every time you drive down the street, are you not committing an action that has the potential to take another person’s life? If someone were to die when you were driving, is that necessarily your fault?
I think there is no arguing the fact that Patterson has committed a crime – his actions could very well have seen another gun ending up on our streets. But does he really deserve to end up in jail for the better part of two years just because he wanted to honour those who died protecting the Falklands?
Is that really the society we are turning in to – a world where it is wrong to be respectful to the dead out of fear that we might cause harm to the living?
I have left the link to the petition at the bottom of this post, but I’m not going to tell you what I did in the end. All I will say is that it is a hard decision, and it is one that I think we all should make –
Does he deserve to go to jail? If you say yes then simply do nothing.
If no, then sign this petition.
But know this…
If you do nothing simply because it is easier to ignore this issue than to make a decision rather than because you believe in the cause that jailed Patterson, then I fear for the future of our world…