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Gun control and agriculture clash over homemade pistol


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  • A farmer is headed to prison for keeping a homemade pistol and a shotgun without permits.

Guilty of assault? Not so bad; maybe a slap on the wrist. Possession of a .22 pistol? Heinous crime; prison awaits.

A Lancashire farmer is headed to prison for keeping a homemade pistol in his loft and a shotgun under his bed. Gun control strikes a primal response in America, but that same nerve is long since dead in the UK.

In April of 2013, Paul Alton, a 51-year-old English farmer, got into an argument with wife Kim and the dispute escalated when Alton picked up a hammer and struck the arm of a chair she was sitting in. He then got in his vehicle and drove off while Kim called the police and reported him; his vehicle was spotted and the police quickly caught Alton on the highway.

From that point, the avuncular hand of big government took over. When Alton was pulled over, he was carrying a knife in his pocket — illegal possession in the UK. It’s against the law to “carry a knife in public without good reason - unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long or less.” Basic knife possession laws in the UK are stringent: “A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.”

But the knife infraction paled when Alton’s wife told police he had two guns and some hollow-points hidden in their house. An assault charge was suddenly relegated to the legal backseat, replaced with charges of consequence — possession of guns, ammo and a knife.

When police searched the house, they found two guns — and Alton didn’t have a permit for either one. One was a 12-gauge shotgun under Alton’s bed. The other was found in his loft: a homemade pistol crafted from bits of wood and leather shaped around an old barrel and modified to shoot .22 bullets. The pistol was made by Alton’s uncle, a butcher who used it to kill livestock and gave it to Alton five years back. Along with the crude pistol, police found 74 rounds of .22 hollow-points.


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Alton had dared to keep a 12-gauge and a .22 in his house without express permission from the government; prosecution was sure. The gun violations were not a matter of a reprimand, fine or probation — Alton was charged with serious weapons infractions and faced the possibility of a mandatory five-year sentence.

Prosecutor Mark Lamberty was outraged by the guns, particularly the pistol. From The Bolton News: “The pistol will fire. It’s extremely dangerous and shouldn’t be done by anybody other than an expert.”

Alton’s lawyer, Joe Boyd, tried to explain his client’s background and reminded the court that Alton had been farming since the age of 16 — guns on a farm are often part of the territory. From the Daily Mail: “His intention was to use it for the humane dispatch of animals. He had no idea of the significance of the pistol.”

Discuss this Blog Entry 11

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 10, 2013

He broke the law. He faced the consequences. What part of this is so hard to understand? And try to wrap your head around this: maybe the fact that the UK has such strict gun registration laws (and remember - the key, according to this story, is that NOT that he had the guns, it's that they weren't registered) has something to do with the fact that they have far, far, lower rates of gun crime than the US. So much so that most of their police aren't even armed. I fail to see what is so bad about that.

on Dec 10, 2013

Well "anonymous" you are correct in that broken laws should have consequences. The principal is accepted, however, what you and the "guns are evil" crowd have yet to comprehend is baseless laws such as this and the plethora of the same garbage our own government tried to pass this year have nothing to do with preventing criminal behavior and everything to do with criminalizing law abiding citizens. Your statement that the UK, because of their refined pedigree as a citizenry I'm sure, have less gun crime is most likely statistically correct. If I was a criminal and knew you did not have a gun to defend yourself why would I need to shoot you. I would just beat the crap out of you with a stick and and take your wallet providing that was all I intended to do. Check the other crime stats and then get yourself a plane ticket and move to the UK if you will feel safer there. Congratulations to the woman who turned in her evil husband. Now she can make the money and keep the farm going while he serves his much deserved prison sentence.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 17, 2014

Obviously, you have not been to England, but just read the liberal press. The British police have carried guns for several decades and it is frequently fully automated weapons. In fact, it is extremely difficult (if even possible) to find a police officer with the archaic billy club.
AND the reason it was unregistered, is because if he had tried to register the family heirloom it would have been confiscated!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 10, 2013

Thank goodness the guy's wife was smart enough to call the police before the guns were used on her and assault turned into murder. Too many women are killed in their own homes because of easy access to weapons and a lax legal attitude toward domestic violence. The author here is right about one thing- assault charges should be taken more seriously than they are.

on Dec 10, 2013

If anger always led to killing none of us would be here. I guess the next time my wife throws something at me because I have made her angry I should turn her in for a lengthy prison sentence because who knows she could be plotting my demise. Perhaps they both should have gone to prison, she is as capable of using the gun on him, more so than him I would speculate because of her perception of being at a physical disadvantage.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 10, 2013

You stupid people. Early man used clubs. American Indians used arrows. Stephen in the Bible was stoned. When are you going to figure out it isn't the tool. But the human mind that kills.

A-man (not verified)
on Dec 10, 2013

A farmer gets two and a half years in jail for having an unregistered 12-gauge and a pistol? And all this with "no criminal intent." Yes, he should have complied with the law - and yes he should be fined, but this is a classic case of judicial overkill. And regarding the farmer's "need" to have firearms (albeit registered ones) on his property - is he supposed to use a peashooter to kill rattlers and to humanely dispose of sick animals?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 10, 2013

This article is moronic and silly. Firearm restrictions in the UK are well-known and documented for decades. He broke the law and now faces the full consequences for his criminal actions. Personal responsibility. For year 2011, all gun-related deaths in the UK totaled 146. That's less than the average 2-day total for the US. On average, US gun-related deaths exceed 32,000 per year. That's like losing the entire population of Sheridan County, Wyoming, every year. Or Aiken, SC; or Fallbrook, CA; or Mason City, IA; or Nacogdoches, TX; or Riviera Beach, FL; or nearly the population of Peachtree City, GA. Every year. Get a clue.

JM (not verified)
on Dec 19, 2013

Anonymous points out the deaths by gun related deaths but omits the facts that the majority of this is due to gang activity in cities with strict gun control laws. Indeed strict gun control Chicago last year broke the 500 number with multiple gang shootings. Proposals for gun confiscation will only result in law abiding having their guns taken from them. The violent and criminal minded are not about to give them up.

Some point out that guns can result in deaths. True. But prescription drugs result in a large multiple of those numbers. So do autos. Household chemicals too. The objective of making society perfectly safe is a futile exercise.

The single most basic human right is the right of self defense. All other rights are meaningless with that right. Those that seek to

This punishment had little to do with the incident or for that matter with guns The real "crime" here was failure to obey the government. That fact is made transparent by some of the comments here. This mind set if far more dangerous to the public than guns.

on Jan 8, 2014

This punishment had little to do with the incident or for that matter with guns The real "crime" here was failure to obey the government. That fact is made transparent by some of the comments here. This mind set if far more dangero

wayne23 (not verified)
on Jan 16, 2014

The dumb pommies replace their gun crimes with knife crimes. Only law abiding citizens obey the law. You can take away every gun on the market n if one is determined n can think outside the square he can concoct a gun from scratch with commonly available item. Infact ammos are piss easy to make from scratch too. Infact the uks should just ban alcohol n cars too cos drink driving is no worse than gun crime but alot more common.

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