Quote = "But nor would people generally opposed to retribution, or in favour of weapon control - most people would just pile in with whatever they had."
David, you seem sincere, but I know from bitter experience that is simply not true, having over the years:
intervened when someone's life was in danger (sadly they later died from their accidental injuries),
been threatened with weapons when preventing a young woman being robbed,
been attacked in the street for not according some violent twat the 'respect' wanted.
(My attacker was younger and much larger, naturally and I'm short, pudgy, unfit and was at the time on my way to hospital for treatment of a long-term illness - so I'm not going to take any guff from the likes of the 'oh-so-virtuous' AC who seems to think people going about their normal business are 'asking for it'. What a prat!)
In every case there were many other people around, of various ages, and every time, every single fricking time, they just stood around gormlessly as if they were watching tv.
And I didn't escape violent injury by being nicey-nice, but by convincing those who threatened me that I wouldn't be the only one to be injured, and by physically resisting the man who attacked me.
David I know I can offer only anecdotal evidence, but for me they were real heart-in-mouth experiences. So, in time of trouble my approach now is only to aid family, friends or those who will act to defend themselves (regardless of age, sex, race etc - its the attitude that counts). I'm sure the politically-correct ACs will once more be able to pontificate - I just hope that sometime they are directly on the receiving end so they are that the ones that suffer for their uselessness.
Depending upon the legal system to remove personal involvement from punishing attackers may be worthy of discussion, but clearly even in the UK such a system does not itself actually protect or defend.