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Edwardian London was prepared to handle terror

Richard Munday writes in the Times -

The Mumbai massacre could happen in London tomorrow; but probably it could not have happened to Londoners 100 years ago.

In January 1909 two such anarchists, lately come from an attempt to blow up the president of France, tried to commit a robbery in north London, armed with automatic pistols. Edwardian Londoners, however, shot back – and the anarchists were pursued through the streets by a spontaneous hue-and-cry. The police, who could not find the key to their own gun cupboard, borrowed at least four pistols from passers-by, while other citizens armed with revolvers and shotguns preferred to use their weapons themselves to bring the assailants down.

Today we are probably more shocked at the idea of so many ordinary Londoners carrying guns in the street than we are at the idea of an armed robbery. But the world of Conan Doyle’s Dr Watson, pocketing his revolver before he walked the London streets, was real. The arming of the populace guaranteed rather than disturbed the peace.

At the time London was filled with people who could carry guns responsibly. Lives lost to gun violence in the 1890s amounted to a handful during the entire decade.

Munday mentions William Blackstone, who is featured in our Liberty Timeline because he believed that the right to self-defence was the foundation of every other freedom.

Thanks to Instapundit for the news.

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