‘I am Tony Martin’


Lee’s note: Here’s an evocative submission from Jo, a native of the United Kingdom who is now a U.S. citizen and owner of Empower Firearms Training. It explains how the Brits lost their Castle Doctrine, and their guns. Jo is an NRA certified firearms instructor and the originator of the FEMPOWER training class designed for female shooters.

‘I am Tony Martin’

 By Jo, owner of Empower Firearms Training

I am Tony Martin.

Or I darned well could be were I still living in my country of birth. And if the gun grabbers get their way here in my country of choice, everyone else who believes in the Second Amendment and their right to self defense could be too.

Tony Martin was locked up in a cell in Highpoint Prison, Suffolk, England. His crime? Defending his life and property against invasion. So much for the ancient adage “An Englishman’s home is his castle.”

Tony Martin

Tony Martin

Tony inherited his farmhouse in rural England from his uncle around 1979. It was invaded by two young males on August 20th, 1999. This was not the first time the farmhouse (or other properties in the area) had been so targeted and, given its remote location, a police response was certainly not going to be immediate.

The younger of the two uninvited guests was aged 16 and had already been arrested 29 times prior to this criminal incident. His rap sheet included being drunk and disorderly, theft and assaulting a police officer. He had just been released on bail after being accused of stealing garden furniture. Martin shot and killed this invader in his home that same evening. The other one had 30 previous convictions for crimes including theft, burglary, fraud, drugs, obtaining property by deception, criminal damage and failure to surrender to bail. He was 29 years old at the time he was shot and wounded inside Martin’s home.

On August 23rd 1999, Martin was charged with both murder and attempted murder and was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Martin’s murder conviction was later replaced by manslaughter carrying a five year sentence, and his ten year sentence for wounding was reduced to three years.

A Parole Board rejected his application for early release in January 2003. They gave no reason, however the Chairman later stated in an interview that Martin was a very dangerous man who may still believe his action had been right.

On January 10th, 2000 the surviving home invader admitted to conspiring to burgle Martin’s farmhouse and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was granted early release and has continued his career as a criminal since his release from jail on that particular crime.

Jo, owner of Empower Firearms Training, is an NRA certified instructor. Photos courtesy Empower Firearms Training.

Jo, owner of Empower Firearms Training, is an NRA certified instructor. Photos courtesy Empower Firearms Training.

Incidentally, during the same year that Martin’s parole application was denied, the convicted criminal who had invaded his home received £5,000 of tax payer funds in Legal Aid to sue Martin for loss of earnings. While this case was pending, he was charged with a vehicle theft while on probation for a heroin conviction. His supporters put a bounty on Martin’s head around this time. He also received a payment reported to be £4,500 from the BBC in March 2005 for an interview. Makes me wonder about that other old adage, “Crime doesn’t pay.”

Tony Martin was eventually released on July 28th, 2003. He is now involved in leading campaigns to protect householders who defend themselves against intruders, and to prevent burglars getting Legal Aid to sue for compensation if they are injured during the commission of their crime.

So how did the populace of Great Britain shift from their homes being their castles to this? Responsibility lies with their Government. Here’s a snap shot view of the pertinent historical dates that led the honest law abiding British citizens down this path.

In 1689 a Bill of Rights was introduced by King William of Orange that guaranteed his subjects the right to bear arms for self defense.

In 1819 a Temporary Seizure of Arms Act was passed allowing police to search for and confiscate arms from those who are deemed to be “dangerous to the public peace”. This was in response to civil unrest and expired in 1821.

In 1870 a law was passed requiring citizens to obtain a license to carry a firearm outside their homes.

In 1903 The Pistols Act banned firearms from the hands of drunks and mentally insane individuals and required a handgun license for everyone else.

1920 saw the introduction of The Firearms Act which allowed the police to determine who was to be trusted with a firearm and registration for those who passed that test!

In 1937, the 1920 Act was updated to include more police power to regulate licenses, raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm and ban most fully automatics. It was also ruled that self defense was no longer a valid reason to be granted permission to have a gun**.

In 1967 The Criminal Justice Act extended licensing requirements to include shotguns.

In 1968 all gun laws were transferred to a single Statute and honest citizens were required to show good reason for wanting to carry guns and ammo (note : see ** above).

In 1988 an amendment to The Firearms Act followed a massacre in which 2 semi-auto rifles were used. The amendment included banning semi-auto and pump action rifles, short shotguns with magazines, elevated pump action and self loading rifles. Shotguns would also now require both registration and secure storage.

In 1997 another amendment to The Firearms Act followed the school massacre in Dunblane, Scotland (where 2 pistols and 2 revolvers were used by the killer) which essentially banned all handguns.

2006 saw the passage of the Violent Crimes Reduction Act in response to the rise in gun-related homicides. This Act criminalized the making and selling of imitation weapons and further restricted air weapons use (am I the only one that has trouble with the concept of imitation weapons being responsible for homicides?)

Are warning bells sounding in your head? Do you see a pattern here? As a final thought to ponder, I leave the best for last. The absolute ban was sold to the Great British Public by their Wise Leaders as a method to reduce crime. Reports indicate that it increased by about 40% in the first year. I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that this was a result of the criminals doing what they do best and not following the laws.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


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  3. Robin 'Roblimo' Miller on

    Got it. No gun laws. All criminals and mental cases should be allowed to own all the guns they want. And using the same logic that says gun laws don’t work, let’s drop those stupid traffic laws. Criminals don’t follow them anyway. Even worse, there’s that horrible Pure Food and Drug act. Let’s repeal that and have food processing plants the way they were in 1900. Yeah! America, the land of the free and the dumb.

    Mind you, if you try to come into my house illegally, I have a loaded handgun within reach of my favorite chair, and a rifle not much farther from my bed. And while I’d like to see more gun purchase checks, I don’t want to see British-style firearms regs. Heck, I own several 25 – 30 round magazines, and I like them. 🙂

  4. Quote. (Heck, I own several 25 – 30 round magazines, and I like them). Yes so do I and I live in the UK. There is no restrictions on magazine capacity in the UK unlike some American states. As for Tony” Martin he shot the burglars in the back as they tried to escape. I think that would get you into trouble in some American states as well.

  5. Domonic travers on

    Tony Martin had previously had his firearms licence revoked because he shot at kids stealing apples from his tree.
    He was armed with an illegal pump action shotgun and claimed to have been woken in bed and forced to fire in self defence ( no weapons on the victims)
    He was in fact lying in wait and fired three times at point blank range as they tried to get out of a window.
    You can big up the “criminal record” of the kid he murdered, and the kid was a bad lad but very petty crime .
    The only “weapon” that the burglars had was a wood chisel used to pry the window open

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