There are experimenters of all kinds in the world. Perhaps you had one on your street growing up. Maybe he was the guy who was into radios, with the huge antennae tower, always tweaking something or trying to build his own inter-cosmos uplink to talk to the aliens. Perhaps he was the guy with all the cars at the end of the block, constantly building some new kind of race frame or trying to wrench that last percentage of thermodynamic efficiency out his engine than ran on corn liquor. Maybe he’s that guy next door to you today with all the servers and CPUs in every corner of the house linked together, trying to create his own teraflop processor (or hack NORAD, who can tell)?
For whatever reason, these guys (and gals) developed a passion for learning how they could, hands-on, build something that seemed challenging and interesting,…even if it might be completely frivolous and for no obvious profit.
One such fellow, Phil Luty, decided he’d like to know how difficult it was to design and build from scratch a gun. Without any training as a machinist, and with only common hand tools at his family farm, he set about trying to solve this mechanical mystery.
In the United States, it is legal to build your own gun,…at least under federal statutes. Local ordinances might require it be registered once completed, but you can make your own, if you have the skill and the means. It has become a more common hobby today than many realize, mostly as a result of the federal bans on importation of “assault weapons” from abroad during the Clinton and Bush years. But while the guns themselves may not have been importable, their components and spare parts were. Many people take pride in purchasing a “parts kit” of a well-known design and then fabricating the missing pieces and assembling the unit into a working clone of what outwardly appears to all the world to be a genuine sample of that gun, as if it came right off the factory floor. But Phil was trying to something even harder than that. He was trying to see if he could this without any pre-fabricated parts at all!
But Phil Luty doesn’t live in the United States.
Phil lived in England.
You probably know that guns are almost totally banned in the UK. It has gotten so bad there for those who seek to simply own one as a remnant piece of history that even many non-operable guns for display were finally banned earlier this year. The current of England’s phobia of guns runs deep and swift, indeed.
But not all Brits have devolved into such hoplophobic lemmings. Not unlike Americans today who recall what their heritage of liberty used to mean and defend, there are Limeys still who value and believe in the English tradition of relative freedom. Although (just like here) it has not been true for a very long time, the English used to have a tolerance for whatever citizens did in the privacy of their own home. They used to not care what a man did as long as he aggressed against no one else. Phil Luty was raised this way. But those days were gone before he was born.
As an English patriot, Phil had also been raised to remember how close his country had been to being overrun and invaded by Germany in 1940,…how England had to take out ads in American media to beg that Americans send donated personal guns to England for defense of the homeland because the English did not have guns in every household like America did, and would not be able to fight an occupation. When a lone gunman in Dunblane killed many innocents, Britain responded with the most horrendous gun prohibitions seen yet. Phil was opposed to this insanity. He knew that guns had been made in the crudest of environments around the world, and that prohibition would do nothing to prevent such tragedies in the future. He decided that the point needed to be demonstrated.
Phil tinkered on his farm with his homemade gun designs during the 90’s. He succeeded in rediscovering the long way around certain principles of gun design most others in the field took for granted. But Phil wasn’t simply trying to make a gun; he was on a trip of discovery. Plenty of guns are available on the black market in Britain. If it were merely a matter of seeking to possess one, Phil could have spent a whole lot less time, energy and money by just going out and buying one off the streets.
Eventually, Phil succeeded at producing an example of a pistol caliber machinegun. Along the way, there had been books about guns that had helped to illuminate him and aid in the discovery of certain base mechanical principles and construction concerns. It occurred to Phil that his experiments might be of interest to other readers and that he might write a book about his own designs and experiments and discoveries. All the better to promote the idea of how silly gun control is.
He published a book in the late 90’s, through American publisher Paladin Press, called “Expedient Homemade Firearms – The 9mm Machinegun”. Though England does not have a 1st Amendment, it had long been a tradition that the Brits were very proud of how freely their speech and print media were able to operate. And since the book was being printed in the U.S. after all, Phil figured that, while the book was likely to be controversial due to from where it originated, no prohibitive consequences could befall him from its publishing.
In 1998, Phil was sent to prison for manufacturing his singular experimental gun. He was sentenced to 4 years, but due to behind-the-scenes mucking up of things by those who felt threatened by Mr. Luty, he was denied his parole, and ended up serving 5 years. This, in the same legal system that fails to send offenders of criminal assaults to jail for a single day, instead issuing a “caution” (similar to a traffic ticket) to someone who has actually committed violence.
While away, and in part because of his minor celebrity for publishing it, Luty’s book had been selling modestly well and received positive reviews. The public had clamored for more. While not about to perform the same stunt and get thrown back into prison, Phil was none-the-less still committed to promoting what a fallacy the premise of gun control was. The internet was now the new media, and Phil took to it readily. He started a website and forum dedicated to the subject of home-manufacture of guns, called www.thehomegunsmith.com .
The website became very active, mostly with American hobbyists looking to learn or to share info. But it also attracted an international audience, with curious persons checking it out from far flung places like Dubai, Madagascar and Australia. Not only was Phil still tweaking Parliament’s nose, but, in their eyes, practically spitting in their face.
Showing how they have never truly evolved from their authoritarian roots, English authorities, in February of 2005 raided 3 Luty family residences, including the home of his brother and his father’s house, apparently looking for prohibited firearms. Books, computers, CDs and all manner of other items were seized, never to be returned. Ed and John Luty (Phil’s father and brother) were arrested and charged with “Conspiracy to Manufacture Firearms”. Phil himself was not arrested or charged, and it seems the actions taken against his family were meant as an extortive tool to get him to shut his website down. It didn’t work, and Phil’s website gained even more notoriety and increased in traffic. His father and brother were let out on bond and the charges against them remained dormant and unprosecuted. (Because there was no evidence?!)
And so there it remained. Phil continued conversing with persons around the globe interested in the subject. Persons talked with each other and shared information via his website. A few months ago, Phil was diagnosed with cancer. It seemed he might of necessity begin to scale back his activism and perhaps have to take a break from running the website.
But recently, several people around the world who were in semi-regular correspondence with Phil (we are a tight-knit community) noticed he was not around and not responding to his emails. Upon checking www.thehomegunsmith.com it was noticed to be down. After some more time went by, people became concerned.
Then came word from a mutual friend in Portugal. A veteran of their armed forces, he had lived for many years here in Arizona, working as a gunsmith, and maintained an interest in the manufacture of guns. He was one of the regular visitors to Phil’s website. His home had been raided by a task force of Interpol and the Portuguese equivalent of the FBI’s counter-terrorism squad. They had specifically been asked to do so by Britain’s MI-5 as part of an investigation surrounding Mr. Luty. Some cyber-sleuthing among webmasters revealed that an RKBA-friendly (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) web guru had been contacted by Phil via his brother and asked to take the website down and wipe it. Phil had once again been scooped up by the British authorities, but under the newly modified anti-terror laws, had been able to do so without notifying anyone for weeks. After being pressured by friends and family, the Metropolitan Police finally only admit that Phil was arrested (on a date still not revealed) for “incitement of crimes” via his website, but would not provide a specific charge against him or any examples of what crimes or incitements to which they were referring.
At this time, there is no address to which to send positive correspondence to Phil, as the police who hold him refuse to say anything more, including where he is held. Phil’s brother John is keeping his head low, fearing the never dismissed charges brought against him in 2005 might be brought back to life if he were to publicly advocate and agitate for Phil. It is even unclear at this point if further proceeds from sales of Phil’s book via the publisher will now ever reach him again.
In short,…the British government has wanted for a very long time to simply take Phillip Luty and drop him down a deep dark hole. It seems they may have finally succeeded. In so doing, Phil has succeeded also. He has succeeded in showing us here in the U.S. that what defenders of the 2nd Amendment have been saying is true;…”If they succeed in repealing the 2nd Amendment, the 1st Amendment is next.”
I’d say ask if Phillip Luty agrees,…but he can’t.