You all know why I’m writing this now: the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. I’ve never heard of the place but I don’t need to. There are small towns all over America, England, Sweden, China and Australia that are just like it, I’m sure.
I’m probably going to put the noses of a few American friends out of joint with this one. That’s OK. I choose to remain silent every time I hear them talk/write about the virtues of gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. I don’t argue with them, even though I disagree. I know that it’ll cause a bunfight that no-one will win.
I thought about remaining silent this time, too, but the tragedy in this case is so wretched, so deep and so needless that I felt I had to say something. Put it this way – when considering the do-I or don’t-I question, I felt like I had to come up with a reason more compelling than “it’ll annoy some friends.”
The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
This amendment was passed in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. Let me be brief: they should chuck this old, antiquated sucker of a law out and only allow firearms in the hands of those who genuinely need them. And in the case of those who claim to need them but are outside law enforcement or the military, they should satisfy a test proving they’re capable of responsibly handling them.
There is absolutely no reason for regular citizens to have guns.
Law enforcement? Yes.
National Guard? Yes. Under conditions.
Farmers? Yes. Under conditions.
Sporting Shooters? Yes. Under strict conditions.
Why else do regular citizens need access to guns? And why the hell do they need access to high powered rifles and access to semi-automatic weapons capable of shooting tens or even hundreds of rounds per minute? Why should you be able to buy them over the counter at Wal-Mart, or receive them when you open a bank account or buy a car? It’s just nuts.
The truth is just about anyone outside those people listed above don’t need a firearm. They want them. And that causes a whole bunch of mythical reasons to pop up to justify gun ownership in the United States. None of these myths/justifications stand scrutiny from anyone living in a country with strict gun controls. ABSOLUTELY none of these myths/justifications will comfort the parents of the twenty dead kids from Newtown, Connecticut (all of them either six or seven years old).
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
Technically true, but bullshit. People do kill people, but people with easy access to multiple and/or high powered firearms kill more people than others.
There are unstable and mentally ill people everywhere. It seems to be getting more prevalent every year as the world moves forward at breakneck speed. We’re less family- and community-oriented than we used to be because for many of us, our communities are moving more and more to the virtual world. We can stop that, which is unlikely, or we can deal with the consequences. One of those consequences is a growing number of disconnected people. We can lock them away if they show a nervous tic or we can develop strategies to re-connect with them.
The one thing we shouldn’t do is give them easy access to guns.
Defensive firepower can’t be concentrated in the hands of the government
Bullshit. The United States is the world’s biggest and most robust democracy with the world’s most powerful armed forces. How many of those soldiers are going to abide orders to kill their own citizens indiscriminately if a hardcore nut job gets elected President and decides to turn dictator?
The scenario is absolutely laughable. But even if it weren’t, even if there were a need for people to rise and resist the government, don’t you think it could be done without guns in the hands of the citizenry at the rate of more than 850 firearms per 1000 people? Citizens in Tunisia overthrew a brutal regime, an occurrence that marked the beginning of what we call the Arab Spring. Tunisia has the lowest rate of gun ownership in the world, at 1 per 1000 citizens.
And remember, a proper change in gun culture wouldn’t include the cessation of the National Guard – the citizens who form the militia (and the most likely intended subject of the Second Amendment IMHO). It should include some controls over where, when and how they use their firearms in day to day life, that’s all.
We need to protect our country from invasion
Bullshit. America being invaded is about as likely as me competing in the 100m sprint at the Olympics. Less likely, in fact. That’s because of your armed forces. Your militia is secondary. And remember, if a proper solution were to be found, it would be one that wouldn’t discontinue your militia anyway.
I like to hunt or shoot at targets
Get another hobby.
Seriously, try telling one of the parents from this latest shooting that it’s OK for this shooter to have a gun because you’ve got to protect someone else’s right to go shoot a deer. I’m sure they’ll agree.
Better yet, create real regulations where those who want to hunt CAN hunt, but only after they pass a set of rigorous tests in order to earn the right to hunt.
If we take away guns then we have to take away (insert other thing that can kill)
Bullshit. People die driving cars, it’s true. But cars are made for another purpose and provide enormous benefits to society.
Guns are made to kill. That’s the only reason they were invented: to make one man’s army more deadly than the other guy’s army. You don’t use a gun to dice onions. You don’t use it to till the soil. You don’t use it to paint a canvas. A gun only has one serious, primary use. That that use away from crackpots. Kids shouldn’t die because of someone’s perceived right to own something that kills.
I live in country where, thankfully, I don’t ever have to think about whether the guy acting all twitchy behind me at the supermarket is carrying a firearm.
I can remember only two mass-shooting incidents in Australia in my lifetime – the Hoddle Street shootings in 1987 and the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. In both those years, I lived in the capital cities of the states where those shootings happened, so maybe I’m the problem!
They’re just the ones that stick out in my mind, however. There are more.
5 people in the Kimberley in 1987. 8 more in the Queen St massacre the same year (1987 was a bad year). 5 dead in Surry Hills, Sydney, in 1990. 7 dead in Strathfield a year later. 6 people dead on the Central Coast of NSW in 1992 and then the biggest one of all, 26 people killed at Port Arthur, Tasmania, at the hands of Martin Bryant in 1996.
We’ve had a history of gun violence in mass proportions, too. But we changed things.
After Port Arthur we had a gun buy-back and enacted new legislation to outlaw many of the weapons used in those shootings. We had a national soul-searching and today, gun numbers are down, the types of guns that people can buy are restricted and the best part of all, we’ve not had a single mass-shooting save for one incident in 2002 at a University in Melbourne, where two people were killed by a student.
I’d encourage anyone with an open mind to read this story about Japan and their gun ownership culture and laws. Do you think Japan is oppressed? That the Japanese lack freedom or prosperity? Do you think they’re insecure?
The Japanese have a history that makes the Wild West look like playschool. They made a national decision to change.
A lot of what I’ve heard in the US so far is denial and name-calling.
TAKE THE GUNS OUT OF PEOPLE’S HANDS.