Thursday, April 19, 2007

Our Dear Friends Across the pond……..

Ok, first of all, if any Americans saw the video in the post below and are in anyway offended please understand that was not the intention. It was posted as a bit of light hearted teasing.

I have met only a small number of Americans but my impression so far has been that you struggle with the concept of gentle teasing. You should try it more often, it’s actually quite fun!

Which kind of leads me onto a more serious point, the shooting at Virginia Tech earlier this week and maybe what it says about the differences and similarities between the USA and the UK.

There have been many calls in the media, certainly in the UK, for there to be tighter gun controls in America and I have to say that I whole heartedly agree. I concede that given that I British and not American it is perhaps not my place to make such judgements but nevertheless I have my opinions and this is where I post them! I do not though agree for the reasons that you might expect.

The shootings in Virginia were tragic, the horror of what went on is unimaginable to those that were not there. I am not though convinced that tighter gun controls would have prevented it. Here in the UK we have very tight gun laws and despite that we have had incidents in Hungerford and Dunblane that stand along side Columbine and Virginia Tech in their horror.

What these incidents all have in common is that they were carried out in a pre meditated fashion by misguided and/or mentally ill individuals. The bloody minded intent means that I have no doubt that they would have found a way of obtaining the weapons they had regardless of what the law said they could and could not have.

My concern is more the over all levels of gun crime in the USA.

On channel 4 news last night it was reported that there were around 82 gun deaths A DAY in the USA. Scaled down based on population that is like having around 16 a day in the UK. Currently in the UK we have around 50-60 gun deaths a year. That is too high but 16 a day? That is a staggering number!

There are legitimate reasons for owning a gun. Target shooting is a legitimate sport. Learning how to correctly and safely handle a fire arm helps instil self discipline and confidence and air rifle shooting is something I have done with my Cubs on many occasions. Hunting is legitimate (I may be a vegetarian but I also respect that I am in the minority there and frankly wild animals shot for food have probably had a much better existence that those in factory farms), in rural areas of USA there are still dangerous wild animals and a shot gun in the house may be a sensible idea.

So I would not propose banning their ownership altogether.

However, there is no reason to own a sub machine gun, or an assault rifle, or a gun that has a magazine that holds dozens of bullets. Similarly to ask for someone to confirm themselves that they are not mentally ill is madness, or to allow some one with prior convictions to own one is madness. To allow someone to have one simply for the sake of owning is madness. It is not 1788, the USA is not trying to get independence from ruthless European rulers, they are not trying to survive against native Americans, they need have no fear f their own government (despite its many current faults). The deep south people who want everyone armed to defend their rights need to grow up a bit.

There are too many guns in circulation in America and many of them are too powerful and this can only be contributing to the number of gun deaths.

By restricting gun ownership you make it a lot easier to spot the villains. At the moment if someone is topped by the police and they are carrying a gun they are simply exercising a constitutional right. Stop with heavy restrictions in place and suddenly they need an explanation and odds are they will be up to no good. I’m thinking of drug dealers and the like.

Fewer guns = fewer people shooting = fewer deaths.

There is the argument that if the other students had been armed the Virginia tech incident could have been prevented.

If you want a world where we all go round with guns to defend ourselves against each other then go ahead. Count me out though.

I want a world where we trust each other, not fear each other.

1 comment:

Rebecka said...

Hear hear! Fear would be a horrible thing to rule the world, it has its hand there in too many places already.