In 2016, UK shooter and popular YouTube gun channel personality Callum Long-Collins told the BBC, “Being British and a firearms owner, it almost feels illegal to have any sort of opinion on using guns for self-defense.” The comments appear to have been proved correct. According to an April 23 article in The Times titled, “Gun licences stripped from shooting activist over YouTube comments,” Long-Collins told the publication that he lost an appeal to have his firearms licenses reinstated with the primary reason being the content of his YouTube page, EnglishShooting.
According to a 2018 report from PJMedia, Long-Collins’ firearms licenses were revoked in 2016 following a reportedly false assault allegation that was later dropped. However, after coming to the attention of the state, UK authorities began looking into Long-Collins’s social media presence.
Long-Collins’s primary offense appears to have been his advocacy for the right to armed self-defense. Back in 2015, following the attacks at the Bataclan theater in Paris, France, Long-Collins posted a video to his YouTube page about the event. In it, Long-Collins reportedly contemplated that the French should be able to exercise their Right-to-Carry a handgun for self-defense in order to prevent such terrorist violence. U.S. gun right supporters must pay close attention to the ongoing denigration of natural rights in the UK and other countries and redouble our efforts to ensure Americans never face these abuses of power.
In an attempt to preserve his ability to own firearms, Long-Collins announced in June 2018 that he would be no longer post videos to his YouTube Channel. In a farewell video, Long-Collins explained that after the initial incident, “police then looked at previous videos that I had made in previous views that I had voiced on the channel and they felt that that wasn't in keeping with that of a licensed firearms owner within the UK.” The shooter went on to note,
Over the past two years I've made significant efforts to change the direction of the channel change the videos and to change my own beliefs in views around fire firearms and firearm ownership, unfortunately, I've failed to bring the channel and the videos to the standard that the police feel is adequate.
Long-Collins also stated that, “due to repeated comments from other people on the videos [the licensing authorities] felt that the channel was a forum of extremism.”
In early 2019, Long-Collins began posting new videos to EnglishShooting. In an April 3, 2019 video Long-Collins explained to viewers that he no longer has a shotgun or firearm certificate.
Shortly after posting new content to the YouTube channel, Long-Collins sat down for an interview with The Times. The shooter told the paper, “The main issue was a video that I made around the Paris attacks where I advocated the French to be able to use handguns for self-defence because of the frequency of attacks that were happening at the time.”
The UK government does not respect its subjects’ natural right to keep and bear arms. In the UK, prospective firearms licensees are required to provide “good reason” for owning a firearm. In the majority of the UK, self-defense is not considered sufficient reason to own a firearm. Further, police are given wide discretion in determining whether a person has met the licensing criteria. Despite the protection provided by the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, U.S. gun owners should view Long-Collins’s situation as a warning, rather than as further evidence of American superiority.
For an excellent overview of the firearms laws in Great Britain, please visit the Library of Congress at: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control/greatbritain.php
Moreover, the UK government does not recognize its subjects’ right to free speech.
Despite the protection provided by the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, U.S. gun owners should view Long-Collins’s situation as a warning, rather than as further evidence of American superiority.
On this side of the pond, some anti-gun politicians have shown a willingness to restrict firearms rights based on a person’s speech. In January, Illinois State Rep. Daniel Didech introduced a legislation that would require the state police to “conduct a search of the purchasers' social media accounts available to the public to determine if there is any information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card.”
In addition to opposition from gun rights organizations, the legislation prompted concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union. An ACLU representative told CBS Chicago, “A person’s political beliefs, a person’s religious beliefs, things that should not play a part in whether someone gets a FOID card.”
U.S. gun right supporters must pay close attention to the ongoing denigration of natural rights in the UK and other countries and redouble our efforts to ensure Americans never face these abuses of power.