Dunblane Massacre Resource Page

Action on the Bill of Rights (1997)

Another interesting e-mail I received via John Hurst <jbern@vossnet.co.uk> relating to the Bill of Rights of 1688/9.

The American Constitution's Second Amendment was derived from the English Common Law tradition of the right to keep and bear arms. Of course, the Second Amendment hasn't stopped a multitude of state and federal gun laws being passed that variously restrict or prohibit the right to ownership and use of firearms for self defence, and there's even less chance of the Bill of Rights having any impact on current British Statute Law, IMHO.

Johnny <johnny@dvc.org.uk>

…I am writing to let you know about a possible method to invoke the Bill of Rights (BoR) by using the Common Law offence of Malfeasance, or misconduct in public office. It is an indictable offence whose penalty can include disqualification from public office for life.

The following is a summary of a case that is being prepared by my friend Michael Jay against his MP who has denied that the provisions of the BoR apply in the case of the proposed firearms legislation.

Mr Jay has "arms for defence" as a member of an NSRA affiliated Rifle Club whose constitution has the object of training Her Majesty's subjects in marksmanship in the interests of defence. He also seeks to retain his weapons since he has commited no offence. As you may know, the BoR is a statute which has not been repealed or ammended. It places a duty on all "Crown officers and Ministers whatsoever in all time to come" and directs them to uphold the Rights of the subject. All its articles, including the Common Law right to possess arms for defence and protection from illegal promises of forfeiture of property are to be "firmly and strictly holden and observed". Therefore any attempt to subvert such liberties would constitue a breach of duty by a Crown servant. It is a criminal offence and could be reported to the police who, as Crown servants themselves, are bound by their Oaths of Alleigance and would be obliged to proceede with the matter. The same conditions would apply to the lawyers (Barristers of the CPS) and Judges involved in the case. Thus any MP who attempted to pass legislation which breached the rights of the Subject would be guilty of the offence. And because the BoR specifies that "no declarations, judgements, doings or proceedings to the predjudice of the people in any of the said premises ought in any wise be drawn hereafter into consequense or example" such a "law" would be invalid. Apparently a civil tort arises from malfeasance and a person who had suffered injury (such as a criminal assault on a person who had been denied arms) or loss (for example a gun dealer whose business had been undermined) would be entitled to damages from the individuals who were responsible.

Mike Jay can be contacted at 72016.1652@compuserve.com

The above information is circulated to interested parties to avoid duplication of effort. He would welcome suggestions and comments.

Posted: Fri Feb 07 1997