Next time someone tells you how “great” the gun control laws are in the United Kingdom and that “we should look at them,” you might want to bring up Albert Patterson. Albert Patterson spent 22 years wearing the uniform of a British soldier. This included service with the Parachute Regiment and with the elite Special Air Service Regiment.
The 67-year-old veteran fought in the 1982 Falklands War, and a Browning High Power pistol surrendered to him by an Argentine officer was a trophy that he brought home to remember the sacrifice of his comrades—16 men of 2 Para were killed during the Battle of Goose Green alone.
There’s a problem with that, though. Even decorated soldiers who served from the Goose Green to Afghanistan with the British army are liable for strict prosecution by the Crown for the mere possession of a handgun. And that is what Patterson is now facing. According to a Daily Mail article, a court just sentenced him to 15 months in jail for the unlicensed possession of a 9 mm High Power pistol, five rounds of “expanding” ammunition, 177 rounds of other 9 mm and four Enfield World War II-era revolvers.
There's quite an uproar in the United Kingdom about Patterson’s sentence. The voices jumping to the retired Special Forces soldier’s defense included that of Col. Richard Kemp, who commanded British troops Afghanistan. “An SAS hero who risked his life to defend our country shouldn't be treated like a south London drug dealer,” Kemp told the Daily Mail. “He should be freed immediately. The country should be grateful for what he did.”
And that Draconian sentence was handed down for mere possession of the unlicensed guns and ammunition—not that even a war hero could legally register a handgun these days. There’s no reported evidence that Patterson committed any crime other than having them in his house. Patterson spent 15 of the last 20 years deployed overseas. His attorney, called a solicitor over there, said that he was focused on other things and there was no amnesty while he was home in the UK.
Patterson didn't injure anyone with his talisman to the Falklands War or the three-quarters of a century old revolvers; he didn't hold up a liquor store, all he did was possess unregistered guns.
While jailing Britain's war heroes likely was not the intent of Parliament when its series of harsh gun laws were enacted, it certainly was the result. Remember, the “universal background checks” that are called for by politicians these days are really the first step towards British-style gun registration. Oh, and armed self-defense isn’t allowed there, either.