Pistol-packing priest

By Joel Miller

An Anglican vicar in England is looking for new work now that he’s been defrocked for owning a handgun.

After receiving a tip earlier in the year, police requested to search the home of American-born Rev. Michael Daggett, a former antiques dealer, looking for weapons. A little bird told the bobbies that Daggett had, as the Manchester Evening News put it, “a powerful fast firing modern clip gun.”

He didn’t.

What he did have was still verboten under British law, an antique .22 caliber Derringer pistol and ammunition – the kind swanky women hide in their garters in Westerns – hidden behind the face of a grandfather clock.

Not wanting any additional trouble from the authorities, Daggett told them immediately about the gun and produced it for them. Busted.

Rather than fight in court, the 55-year-old vicar of the Church of Holy Rood in Manchester pled guilty. The results were predictable.

After citing fears that the small-caliber lady’s gun might be stolen and used in heinous and unspeakable acts of criminal mayhem, the judge sentenced Daggett to four months. A short stay, but enough to lose him his job, as church law forbids priests from retaining office if convicted of a charge that carries a jail term.

Daggett thinks the court was using him to send a message to others who would dare stash something so dangerous as a .22 handgun in their grandfather clocks.

“Because I was in a responsible position in the community and not some head-banging drug dealer, the judiciary had to be seen to discredit me. I was therefore dealt with in the most visible way possible and jailed,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

Citing as evidence of his selective prosecution, Daggett points to another case in which a British man “fired an unlicensed shotgun at two men on his property. He had called the police but they had not turned out. He injured one of them after shooting at their car, yet he walked free from court.” It might look bad busting a guy for defending his property when the cops didn’t have the courtesy to show up and take care of business themselves.

Daggett didn’t have such an excuse.

Now forced to ponder new job possibilities, Daggett maintains he was shafted.

“I would claim the gun laws in this country are illegal. Under a 1688 Bill of Rights, which has never been repealed, it says that everyone has the right to possess a weapon for self-defense.”

Actually the 1688 Bill of Rights specifically says that “Protestants may have Arms for their Defence,” but Daggett is an Anglican, so he’s covered. Except in the age of liberty-squashing Leviathan, he’s not.

The law tags on this spoiler: “suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.”

So like the statists who taffy-pull the phrase “well regulated Militia” in the Second Amendment out of context, the power-addled British pols have whittled away the protections of the Bill of Rights until the law means nothing like its writers had intended.

Indeed one of the charges leveled against Catholic King James II after the Glorious Revolution in 1688 – which gave birth to the British Bill of Rights – was that of “causing several good Subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed.” The purpose wasn’t to disarm Papists, but to make sure Protestants were armed, too.

The Bill of Rights was penned to restore the right of “good Subjects” to own firearms for individual and collective self-defense. Now, however, those good subjects – even priests – are jailed for owning firearms, no matter how piddling.

“I grew up in a culture where firearms were very much accepted,” said Daggett. “The Second Amendment of the American Constitution makes it a right of every person to bear a firearm for their own protection.

“No police force can guarantee the safety of citizens, therefore it comes down to the individual to take responsibility for that safety. Is self-defense not a human right?”

Apparently not in England.

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