Gun control in the Star Kingdom of Manticore
Gun control in the Star Kingdom of Manticore would probably make the NRA very happy. I wonder why that is?
There are no real restrictions on the small arms available to private citizens (small arms in this instance being defined as non-energy, projectile-throwing weapons) at the national level. As far as the Crown is concerned, if you can afford it and you want to lug it around, you have a constitutional right to do so. At the same time, the royal ministry of justice comes down like a hammer on anyone who misuses or abuses any weapon. Energy weapons are somewhat restricted in availability. The position of the Crown and Her Majesty's Government is that projectile weapons, especially with the lethality of pulsers and tri-barrels, are sufficient for most self-defense means and constitute sufficient firepower to give even minions of a tyrannical central government pause. Energy weapons are regarded as falling in an intermediate stage between weapons of self-defense and weapons of mass destruction. Private citizens can own them, but unlike the owners of projectile weapons, they are required to pass a government-designed competency test and to be bonded. Moreover, unlike projectile weapons, energy weapons must be registered.
The Constitution of the Star Kingdom specifically guarantees the right of the citizens to be armed, and where small arms are concerned, the entire Star Kingdom is under a "shall-issue" system. Local municipalities can -- and do -- pass local ordinances which restrict where and how weapons may be carried, however. For example, in the City of Landing, chemical-powered projectile weapons can be carried by virtually anyone, although the City requires licensing and the successful passing of a basic competency test before they can be carried concealed. Pulsers, on the other hand, are restricted to police officers and bonded security forces as carry weapons within the city limits and may not be carried concealed at all under normal circumstances. In addition, there are certain areas in the city where private citizens are not permitted to bring weapons. Such places would include courts of law, government offices, etc. No municipality, however, under the Constitution, may legally tell a citizen that he/she cannot possess any non-energy weapon he/she wishes, including pulsers, within his/her own home.
The Star Kingdom does not mandate a Kingdom-wide weapons training curriculum, but the policy of the Crown has always been to strongly encourage local school boards to make such courses part of the required curriculum at what we would consider the middle school and high school levels. The position of the Crown is that since the right to be armed is enshrined in the Constitution, it only makes sense to ensure that every citizen has basic safety and marksmanship training. There is, however, an enormous degree of local autonomy when it comes to making decisions about school systems for specific communities or duchies, and by tradition, the Crown cannot dictate what a specific local or regional curriculum will include. In effect, though, the degree of emphasis the Crown has placed on certain courses -- history, weapons safety, etc. -- has been more than sufficient to ensure virtually 100 percent acceptance of them, which means that almost all citizens of the Star Kingdom have received at least basic weapons instruction.
Honor herself was born in Craggy Hollow, County Duvalier, Duchy of Shadow Vale, on Sphinx. Shadow Vale, which is still very thinly populated, has a typical "rural" attitude towards weapons. They are day-to-day survival tools for people wandering around in backcountry areas which still contain the occasional hexapuma and other large and dangerous predators. People like Honor and her parents also have what you might call a "sturdy sense of responsibility and independence," because they know perfectly well that it is extremely unlikely, even with modern transportation, that law enforcement personnel are going to arrive in time to do much good in an emergency situation. As a result, they have a powerful "do-it-yourself" attitude where self-defense and defense of property are concerned.
This would not necessarily be the case for someone born and raised in a more urban area. Most of those areas continue to enshrine the right of the citizen to be armed and to use lethal force in self-defense under circumstances which make it appropriate, but the environmental threats are much less extreme and so the majority of the citizens feel no particular need to go around armed to the teeth. This was the attitude of the tactical officer aboard Honor's ship on her snotty cruise, who was basically a big-city girl. She had received basic training in personal weapons even before joining the military, but she had never acquired the mindset which would have gone with actually carrying one on a day-to-day basis.
Although the Star Kingdom's Constitution enshrines the right of the citizen to be armed, and specifically prohibits the government from infringing that right (except, as noted above, in the case of energy weapons), there are a great many ways in which an individual citizen may lose that right. All of them involve criminal or criminally negligent actions on the part of the citizen, and the criminal and civil liability penalties for the misuse or abuse of personal weapons, from old-fashioned edged steel to energy weapons, are severe. One might almost call them draconian, because most of them entail hefty periods of jail time (at a minimum) in addition to the subsequent permanent loss of the right to possess weapons.
Basically, the Star Kingdom believes in punishing individuals for their actions rather than depriving entire groups of law-abiding individuals of their rights. There was an effort to amend the Constitution to place much more stringent limits on the rights of citizens to be armed following the clashes between the Gryphon highlanders and the "sons of shareholders" in the so-called "Gryphon Uprising" of 1721 PD. Those efforts failed because the only people who really supported them were certain members of the aristocracy, and those aristocrats found themselves up against the perception by the bulk of the population of the Star Kingdom that the weapons in the hands of the "rebels" had done precisely what they were supposed to do: protected those who had them from the strong-arm tactics of the petty aristocrats trying to force homesteaders off of the recently opened Crown Range on that planet. Eventually, the military was used to separate the two sides and to impose order, but once order had been restored, the right of citizens to be armed remained unimpaired.
From a post to Baen's Bar BuShips dated February 10, 2003:
Chemical propellant weapons are allowed in the SKM. So are longbows, crossbows, and throwing axes. Also rocks. And clubs.