Mine is only one voice, but I do know this. We live in a world where the still small whisper of sweet reason is not heard. And we have such need of reason!

It seems to me that politics will never cure the American obsession with lethal weapons; that those bombasts who cunningly disguise their greed behind this strange romance will never be swayed from their pinnacle unless the people themselves initiate change.
.
To me, from the privilege of distance, the answer is to shame and alienate those who carry guns – to ostracize gun ownership in the same way as smoking or alcoholism. Both these latter addictions were deeply embedded in our cultures, both have (slowly) acquired an anti-social tag. Is it too much to hope that one day whole towns will be gun-free? I seem to remember from my folk history a certain US Marshal who had a similar idea, so it isn’t new. Again, to me – this is opinion and nothing more – a gun owner living anywhere near a school should attract the same stigma (and attention from the law) as a paedophile. He certainly would in my town.

The argument seems to be that it is not the gun, but rather the person holding the gun, who is responsible. True. But there will always be such people. You cannot eradicate mental illness, especially in a society that generates so much anger, so much alienation. You can limit that person’s power to destroy, by taking the most demonic of instruments from his hands.

Though it may be a hard road to travel the destination must be worth the trip.

8 Comments

  1. “You can limit that person’s power to destroy, by taking the most demonic of instruments from his hands.”—I agree. I get so tired of hearing “It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people that kill people.” As you say, there will always be crazies and evil. Why make it easier for them to carry out their acts by having guns so readily available?

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  2. The founding fathers of the United States included in the Second Amendment
    the right to bear arms, and by direct consequence, the right to violent rebellion.
    The so-called ‘advocates’ for a total ban on citizen-owned guns are almost always
    middle-class suburbanites, or in your case, living 3000 miles away on the other
    side of the Atlantic. How different would your opinion be, if you were hispanic,
    living in South Central L.A?

    The events that broached this issue were tragic. But we can’t let the moral panic
    grind away at the principles on which the U.S. Constitution was written.
    Look at 9/11 – the mass hysteria surrounding ‘terrorism,’ and the threat of the
    Bin Laden boogeyman lead to Big Governments’ attempt at snatching Big Brother levels
    of mass privacy invasion. The same excuse was used to detain ‘terrorists,’ without
    evidence, without warrant, without trial, in illegal torture facilities both in Iraq and
    Guantanemo.

    The problem of limiting the access of the mentally ill to weapons is a simple one –
    locked gun cabinets. Stricter tests and regulations. They do what the
    overzealous legislation proposed by the anti-gun lobby would do, without
    removing by proxy the citizens’ rights to armed rebellion and self-defence against
    violent crime.

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    1. Maybe you need someone 3000 miles away to take an objective view? Your constitution is a great piece of legislation, if I may so entitle it, and the Second Amendment was necessary in its time. But guns are not what they were then – the structure of society has altered vastly. It has polarized – the gap between haves and have nots is exponential. While the state grows more powerful and weighted in favor of Corporate interest there is a growing under-class with no constructive role. The greater the gap the greater the envy, the deeper the frustration, the more intense the hatred. These attacks are not going to stop.

      Does the ‘Greatest Nation on Earth’ really still believe that armed rebellion is an option? Is that sufficient grounds to justify the slaughter of children? I think we both agree that better control of arms sales is desirable, but with so many guns out there it would be far too leaky a barrel to shut down any determined assassin. A locked gun cabinet is an engaging image that may well lure the unwary into agreement, but does nothing to deter a resolute thief. A ban on the sale of automatic weapons is a start, though a guns armistice would be better.

      Far too much is sacrificed, I think, to justify the illusion of ‘freedom’. The word is in danger of becoming ridiculous, given how few real freedoms we have. And I suggest it would hardly be furthered by having armed teachers and a permanent policeman on post at every school/

      You may say I completely misunderstand. You may be right, though I hope you are not. All I can ever say to you is, that from the standpoint of the outsider the wrongness of the arms lobby’s defense of the gun is incontestable.

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      1. Lawful gun owners are not to blame for the actions of the mentally ill,
        and do not deserve ‘ostracisation’ for exercising their right to bear arms.

        In Switzerland, their is no standing army, but every Swiss household
        is required – by law – to carry a firearm and be trained in its use.
        Switzerland has the lowest crime rate in Europe and is among the
        lowest internationally. In Australia, after lawful citizens were deprived
        of their right to keep firearms, crime rates rose drastically. Likewise,
        in U.S. cities where guns have been banned outright, crime and murder
        rates are well above the national average. No exceptions.

        The Second Amendment is just as relevant now as it was in the time of
        the colonies. Look at countries that, in the last century, where the right
        of the citizenry to bear arms was taken – Germany (1935), the Soviet
        Union, Turkey, China (under the PRC), Uganda, Guatemala and Cambodia.
        The absence of guns is hardly a guarantee of security.

        You ask me if I really think armed rebellion is an option. No, if, in the
        timeless words of Benjamin Franklin, you would ‘trade liberty for temporary
        security.’ But look at Tunisia or Egypt earlier this year – a connected, intelligent,
        well-armed citizens’ militia overthrows an absolute autocracy.

        Do you think the banning of marijuana, heroin, or alcohol in the 1930’s
        stopped their proliferation? Of course not. Bans, prohibitions, criminalisation –
        whatever name the demagogue of the week chooses to put on it –
        it creates a black market where criminals thrive, and more of the
        kind of violent crime the legislation intended to stop.

        There are hundreds of incidents where potential mass-killings have been stopped
        by responsible, brave, armed citizens. In Portland, Oregon a few years ago, a
        licensed gun owner prevented a massacre by training his gun on a killer. A gun
        which he could have been prevented from having by stricter regulations, and more
        stringent tests on who gets to own a gun. The fault lies not with weapons, but the
        climate where a bible-bashing lunatic and her mentally-disturbed son can walk
        into Wal-Mart and buy off-the-shelf shotguns, and military-issue assault rifles.

        The tragic stories of killings involving high numbers of people all occur in ‘gun-free’
        zones such as schools. Some states are bringing in laws to require school faculty to
        be armed and trained in the use of their weapons, which no doubt will bring down
        the number of school shootings. Let’s see how long it takes before Hilary, MOM and
        other anti-gun zealots try to stop this scheme’s successful implementation. To have
        the audacity to turn around and feign heartbreak, cheapening the memories of all
        the poor souls that were lost, whilst relentlessly pushing a political agenda that will
        condemn thousands of innocent people to the same fate.

        I am a father, and a husband, and I feel that any man who fails to provide as much
        security as they can for their family has neglected their duties both as a citizen and
        as a human being.

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  3. I’m afraid that nothing is ever going to be gained by argument: I remember once spending an evening in an Ealing pub with an Ulster Loyalist – this was at the height of the troubles, most of which stemmed from Orange Parades that he insisted it was his ‘Right as an Ulsterman’ to perpetuate. Those deliberately confrontational marches were always pitched at the Catholic districts, always caused riots and ultimately led to several deaths. But he would not forfeit his ‘right’.

    I cannot agree with the parallels you draw with, for instance, Switzerland. There, the gun is a contribution to a home army and is merely kept as an economical adjunct to running a regular militia. Incidentally, it is limited to one gun per eligible person. Swiss society is enviably well-ordered and although they may have occasional incidents they are never likely to approach the excesses of the last few weeks. I could draw upon other statistics you quote, but then statisitics are always one short step from ‘damn lies’.

    In so many ways I agree with you. What makes issues such as these so controversial is the necessity to take down the good with the bad and yes, there will be a difficult period when crime will rise rather than fall because of the extremity of your position – there are just so many guns out there. But I stand by this: in our crowded society anyone, whether apparently a worthy citizen or not, who keeps a personal arsenal of weapons should be regarded with suspicion – intense suspicion – especially if they display intolerance or arrogance.

    Formatting – schmormatting. Words count: their order is less important.. .

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