We do have the same essential "right to bear arms" as well - as enshrined in the Bill of Rights 1689.
Without wanting to go off on too much of a tangent, that's not exactly what it does. While I'm admittedly working from memory on this (I spent a great
deal of time researching and writing on the topic in an academic capacity, but it was some years ago), I would summarise it as this:
The phrase "right to bear arms" had a slightly different meaning at the time of the BoR - while we now think of it as "the right to possess weapons",
it was closer to meaning "the right to engage in hostilities". Of course, I think you could fairly imply within that "the right to possess equipment
with which to engage in hostilities", but an interesting difference none the less.
The BoR did not seek to grant the right to "bear arms", rather it lifted a restriction on a specific group that was subject to even greater
prohibition that others.
UK law works on a prohibitive rather than permissive system - in other words, you can do whatever you want unless it is prohibited by law. At the time
of the BoR, people could possess weapons "as allowed by law". Protestants, however, were subject to an even greater restriction that effectively
denied them the ability to "bear arms" within the meaning of the BoR. The Bill removed this restriction to allow them the same right to bear arms as
everyone else - which was still restricted to those weapons "as allowed by law", only now it applied equally to everyone.
I also wish people would stop throwing the phrase "automatic assault rifles" around like they're found in every other household. Even in the US there
are very few in private hands. I guess it's better to gobble up the hyperbole.
For the record, I spent two or three hours this morning with my (UK-legal single-shot) AR15 and somehow managed to completely avoid killing anything
more than a few bits of paper. How on earth did that happen?!? I thought those magical bits of metal were supposed to drive me into an insane
bloodlust? Especially considering that it's exactly the same bit of kit that people think of when they hear "automatic assault rifle", minus a gas
tube and the extra hole in the barrel.
Edited to add:
Almost forgot - the most important bit! The "right to bear arms" was a common description used, but the actual text as it still stands does not use
that phrase. The text actually states:
"That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law".
13-4-2014 by EvillerBob because: (no reason given)