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America in denial over gun control

Not everyone in America, of course, but listening to the interviews of students and others around the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it is quite clear that, for a significant number of people, the obvious and correct way to go is not even on the cards. And the pro-gun lobbyists are out in droves bolstering up their hopeless case, notwithstanding that the massacres will carry on happening until individuals decide to say no to guns.

What follows is only one example of the kind of mindless drivel that is being pumped through the American media at the present time:

In 2000, the rate at which people were robbed or assaulted was higher in England, Scotland, Finland, Poland, Denmark and Sweden than it was in the United States. The assault rate in England was twice that in the United States. In the decade since England banned all private possession of handguns, the BBC reported that the number of gun crimes has gone up sharply.

Some of the worst examples of mass gun violence have also occurred in Europe. In recent years, 17 students and teachers were killed by a shooter in one incident at a German public school; 14 legislators were shot to death in Switzerland, and eight city council members were shot to death near Paris.

The main lesson that should emerge from the Virginia Tech killings is that we need to work harder to identify and cope with dangerously unstable personalities.

It is a problem for Europeans as well as Americans, one for which there are no easy solutions — such as passing more gun control laws.

One can only hope that American citizens with open eyes, those who can see clearly, along with the rest of the world, that tight gun control laws are the only answer, will provide cogent and convincing arguments sufficient to draw their fellow countrymen back into the stream of reasonable opinion.

37 Responses to “America in denial over gun control”

  1. True, John.
    It’s sad that when Cho needed an ally, another perfect enemy in the shape of guns, he could get them easily enough and the free rein on which he was allowed to operate these weapons was frightening.
    And then too, that lack of urgency and forethought that may have prevented the massacre.
    You’ve made an astute observation. Now that the tragedy has moved on to a wider sentiment, many simply skirt the gun issue altogether.

    jb says: It is important to create a community in which a disintegrating character amassing weapons and ammunition draw attention to themselves as a matter of course.

  2. Rational Thinker says:

    Rebuking a few arguments that disapprove gun-control

    1. “Gun violence can be stopped if law-abiding citizens have access to guns” — So far, I haven’t seen any substantial evidence for this. There have been far far fewer cases where a law-abiding citizen stopped a violence with his/her gun relative to all cases of gun-violence given that about 50% American households already own guns. One possible reason is that even when a person owns a gun, he/she may not be willing to carry it around in daily life routines. After all, a gun is not something as benign as a cell phone.

    2. “Some regions with gun-bans still have high gun-violences”. A regional gun-ban won’t work. A determined criminal can simply buy a gun from a gun-friendly area and commit the crime in a gun-banning region. A national gun-control policy is needed.

    3. “Gun-rights is in the constitutional amendment”. It’s naive to think the country is still the same as 230 years ago in terms of the need of owning a gun. A national referendum on gun-rights is needed.

  3. Maxine says:

    I am very sad to see on so many (I had thought) sensible literary US blogs, pro-gun arguments in response to V Tech> Depressing, to say the least.

    jb says: I feel one can only give as much support as possible to those on the side of reason in this argument.

  4. April says:

    To Political Leaders,

    We are all extremely saddened by this horrific tragedy at Virginia Tech and as a parent; I can only imagine the family’s unbearable grief. I want to know if you will take a stand and propose solutions for effective gun control. This is becoming issue number one for many peaceful citizens.

    I don’t believe that we need more gun laws …we need much stronger ones. I don’t agree with the logic that we shouldn’t have certain laws …because no one will follow them. If so, why have any civilized laws. I see absolutely no reason why any citizen should be permitted to own a semi-automatic weapon. There are many reasons why that horrific tragedy happened earlier this week, but among them I see no reason more preventable …than minimizing access to assault guns.

    I read tonight where someone commented that the: “Primary flaw in the gun control argument: If one or two responsible adults in the Engineering Hall had concealed carry permits and were packing heat, the death toll might have been much lower”. Logic would indicate that: if one person had not been carrying a gun …the death toll could have been zero!

    Also, why should gun manufacturers be so special as to be exempt from any civil and criminal liability? It’s very disgusting to think that some people are profiting at the cost of so many innocent deaths. In a country as great as ours …why must we live constantly with this fear? This violence has gone too far …too close to home.

    Who will be the leader who won’t “run for cover”?

  5. Dick says:

    One despairs. When the kind of fuckwittery represented by the arguments cited by Rational Thinker is standard White House protocol, we can do little more than await the next gun-driven tragedy. I fear that your ‘American citizens with open eyes’ are viewed in the highest places as little more than degenerate East Coast intellectuals or bleeding heart West Coast liberals out of touch with the realities of the American frontier.

  6. […] politics, blogging, asides I’ve had several abusive and derogatory comments from my post of yesterday, which I’ve deleted. If any of those commenters would like to resubmit their views using a […]

  7. Lynda in Idaho says:

    We have a very powerful gun lobby in this country who’ve effectively blocked any and all attempts at greater control. Then, we have horror stories out of Australia and Canada of the after-effects of their out-lawing guns…law-abiding, defenseless folk assaulted in their homes by criminals, etc. The two combine to cripple attempts at control. It is my contention that stricter enforcement of the laws already ‘on the books’ would have at least a dampening effect on the ability of psychopaths to obtain hand and/or assault guns. But I also believe that this is analagous to Prohibition and the so-called War on Drugs. Prohibition gave us Organized Crime, and the WOD has given us gangs and drive-by shootings. So, I dispute your contention that Americans are in denial. How could we be, with the media shoving the stories in our collective faces 24/7?

    jb says: We realize that the gun lobby is powerful and that it is important that an effective opposition to them is encouraged. But the propaganda they put out about Australia and Canada is not borne up by the facts. There is also nothing analogous between gun control and Prohibition. If you abuse alcohol you kill yourself not part of the population of a school.
    You are in denial. You have to take the majority of guns out of circulation. That is the only way to deal with the situation. Outside of your country almost everyone in the world who wishes you well is saying the same thing. Listen and you will hear them.

  8. Minx says:

    I can have sex with you and drive you to the pub but I cannot buy you a drink in case I ruin my liver.
    I can make model aeroplanes but I cannot buy the glue in case I sniff it.
    I can only buy a certain amount of painkillers over the counter in case I want to kill myself. However, if I want to kill you…..

  9. It’s sad that so many people oppose gun control here in the U.S. Our original Second Amendment right had nothing to do with individuals owning semi-automatic weapons for fun, or in this case, mayhem. I find it distressing that some people want to live in a society where everyone carries a gun — that that is their idea of safety. How unsafe they must feel in the world. Whereas human beings are fragile and faulty, and we react out of passion or stupidity as often as thoughtfulness and good judgment. Putting guns out of reach would prevent many fatalities.

  10. Lynda in Idaho says:

    Okay, since you insist, I’m, (we are), in denial. However, I would like to hear your ideas on exactly how we would go about ‘taking the majority of guns out of circulation.’ Perhaps I should have explained the analagous part…’When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.’ Trite but true. As soon as something is outlawed, a black market arises to provide that ‘something.’ Folk did not stop drinking alcohol during Prohibition, instead a criminal element arose to provide what the prople wanted, and became more organized, powerful and wealthy than before, selling their cheap and dangerous cwap. Neither outlawing ‘dangerous’ drugs, nor any manner of controlling them has lessened their use by a scintilla, but does enable a dangerous, gun-toting underclass a means to empower and enrich themselves by dealing in them. And I doubt gun control laws will slow that bunch down one iota. It is the stated intention of radical Islam to rule the world by killing one ‘infidel’ at a time or in great bunches of them,(us), when it can. Closing off their access to weapons entirely would help me sleep easier at night. I don’t agree with Mr. Bush’s solution, but I don’t see another one either. Perhaps you have one? Pax vobiscum.

    jb says: Hi Linda. My, there’s a lot to be frightened of in your world. The gun-toting underclass, radical Islam, etc. And the inference is that you really need all those guns to defend yourselves against these people. I really don’t get the impression that you want to take ‘the majority of guns out of circulation.’
    However, should you ever get around to believing or thinking that taking those guns out of circulation might help, then, I agree, you would have an enormous task on your hands. But just because it is big isn’t reason enough to give up before you start.
    I wouldn’t seek an outright ban, the last thing I would want to do is to drive the weapons underground. Rather I would want to begin with a programme of education, I would want to change minds and hearts. Open the thing up to debate, keep the arguments clean and out in the open. Don’t allow the pro-gun lobby to get away with outright lies and totally falsified information about what is happening in other countries.
    Something like this takes time. It is important to change the minds of a majority of the population and bring about a climate in which gun-control can be seen as a positive move.
    Don’t tell me it can’t be done. It was achieved with cigarette smoking and with many other health issues over the last generation or so. Change doesn’t happen overnight. The thing is to begin.

  11. Dan Evans says:

    I hear what you’re saying, pardner… but can’t believe what I’m hearing. Your own press (BBC) admits that gun control, and the number of weapons NOT owned by neighborhood, has an inverse affect on violent crime in England. In Texas (you know, the gun toting state) we have the lowest rate of bank robbery in the nation. Why? Because of a single highly-publicized event where a would-be pair of bank robbers, after getting “the drop” on the bank guard, told the other customers to “lay down on the floor and remove your wallets.” The other bank customers shot the robbers! In Texas, we treated the savior citizens as heroes. And many would-be bank robbers moved to states with “gun control” laws. Please keep your Socialist experiments on your side of the pond. – AZ Cowboy from Texas.

    jb says: Hi Dan, you’re completely wrong in attributing that quote to the BBC. It simply never happened. But I hear you loud and clear. You don’t want to debate gun control. That’s fine, Dan. You’re welcome to your opinion. Sounds like a wonderful world you’re living in.

  12. Craigk says:

    There are many examples cross-nationally, where the gun ownership rate in a society does not explain the homicide rate (e.g. Switzerland). Similarly gun controls don’t automatically correlate either. Overall the correlation between gun ownership and homicide is weak cross-nationally, and possibly spurious, given that other variables correlate with gun ownership rates, and in turn homicide rates – such as inequality (measure by the Gini coefficient) and cultural heterogeneity (see reference 1 & 2 below). Unfortunately you can’t untangle these causal factors as there is no way to conduct a controlled experiment.

    In terms of comparisons over time within a single nation: I see a few references to the U.K. above, so lets take the U.K. as an example. The homicide rate has steadily declined century after century since the middle ages (yes, English records go that far back). Gun controls were first introduced in a weak form in the 1920s (for fear of political unrest – not because gun related crime was a problem), and were systematically tightened in later decades. However, homicide suddenly increased again from the mid 1960s onwards and continues its upward path today (see:http://www.parliament.uk/COMMONS/lib/research/rp99/rp99-056.pdf). Levels now exceed those when the U.K. was awash with guns, and yet the gun controls are far tighter now. Conclusion: Other variables such as cultural heterogeneity, and income inequality appear to have a greater effect than gun ownership rates.

    What would happen if America were to tighten gun laws? Possibly the same thing we have in South Africa. The homicide rate in South Africa is horrendous compared to America, and yet gun controls are far tighter in South Africa than in America. Introducing gun controls has only resulted in law abiding citizens turning in their guns, while a mass of illegal firearms remains in circulation amongst criminals. The only real way to reduce homicide in South Africa is economically. Similarly, America needs to address its economic inequalities. Of course nothing can be done about cultural heterogeneity.

    References:

    1.) Population Heterogeneity and the Sociogenesis of Homicide, Henry B. Hansmann, John M. Quigley
    Social Forces, Vol. 61, No. 1 (Sep., 1982), pp. 206-224.

    2.) Reassessing the Cross-National Relationship Between Income Inequality and Homicide Rates: Implications of Data Quality Control in the Measurement of Income Distribution, Steven F. Messner1 , Lawrence E. Raffalovich and Peter Shrock, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Dec., 2002).

    jb says: Thanks for this, Craigk. Of course, the problem with cross-cultural comparisons is that, interesting though they may be, they actually tell us little about the individual situation. To compare the American problem with gun culture to that of Switzerland or South Africa is totally pointless. South Africa has a culture of violence where guns are confused with glamour and where most homicides are committed by pre-teenage boys, a society which produces 60 murders per 100,000 of the population, whereas the comparable figure in the US is only about 6 out of each 100,000.
    Yes, I agree that America needs to address its economic inequalities, and of course all of these things are interconnected, but I don’t think forming a queue of priorities and conveniently placing gun control at the bottom of the list will do much to solve the problem.

  13. JE says:

    I respect your passion. I even agree that sufficient regulation will mitigate the problem. I neither own guns nor do I plan to own them. If they were banned and effectively regulated, I wouldn’t much care from a personal standpoint. But I nevertheless disagree with your cartoon characterizations and knee-jerk response. And I don’t think hiding behind the cover of advocating debate rather than a ban makes any difference at all. I think advocating either only muddies the discourse and slows real progress.

    Primarily, I question your priorities on at least two levels. The first level is one of liberties versus security. As a society, we can modify what our priorities are for this tradeoff. On what grounds do you think that the tradeoff is worth a sacrifice in liberty? And what level of tradeoff should we be willing to settle for? If we are going to set a constitutional precedent (and this is very much a constitutional issue) of sacrificing liberty for security, then we enter very dangerous territory. We Americans have suffered enough trampling of our constitutional protections as of late as it is. (The 4th Amendment is dying, for example, because of Bush, though I suspect the 5th will see a resurgence because of him.)

    I for one think it is counter-productive to support any initiative that de-emphasizes the importance of the Constitution. If we need to ban guns (and I don’t disagree that this is a problem that should be dealt with), then don’t advocate extra-Constitutional solutions. It may be unfortunate that the 2nd Amendment is in the Constitution, but it is. Fortunately, as you well know, this can be changed by amending the Constitution.

    Secondly, I think that your reactionary (and laudably idealistic) desire to cure the illness by treating (or debating) the symptoms is very revealing. One underlying predictor of gun crime is social disparity and poverty. Moreover, the U.S.’s economic and social imbalances lead to many more problems than just gun crime. Clearly, draining the swamp of social imbalance in the U.S. would do much more good for the entire country than the band-aid of banning guns. If each generation of politicians has only a certain portion of political capital to spend in solving the problems of the day, why would they waste that capital debating a “hot button” issue that is promoted in such a way as to divide instead of spending that capital more wisely on initiatives that everyone agrees upon? Nobody disagrees that it is desirable to eradicate poverty, though substantial numbers of the U.S. population DO disagree about banning firearms. And you know what?, when the country is more economically homogeneous, I’ll bet you that that the opposition to regulating guns will soften as well.

    To synthesize my two points above, I’ll mention two cases. For example, Taiwan’s gun crime was very low all the way through their period of martial law, as it is in any society where every aspect of life is controlled by the central government. And for the other example, gun crime is also low in Scandanavian countries. Both have in common substantial gun control regulation. However, in the former case, this was achieved by asking the people to give up all of their liberties without their consent. I find this untenable. In the latter case, it was achieved through a balanced and prosperous society that chose of its own volition to regulate firearms (in the sense that a large segment of the population doesn’t disagree with such regulation as they do in the U.S.).

    In light of this, I wonder why the sudden chorus of calls for something to be done (or at least a “debate to take place) in the wake of VT? I can’t help but think that such calls come through poorly considered rationales that take a short-sighted evaluation of deep social problems and promote simplistic solutions to complex problems. Simplistic solutions that themselves have undesirable consequences. A fuller solution will certainly include responsible controls on firearms, but not without full support of the American people. And this full support will come only when the gun death debate is put in its proper context as a symptom of a larger problem. Debating gun control on its own is the real red herring. Doing so neglects too many important issues and enlightens no one but autocrats.

    jb says: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” Dwight Eisenhower 1953.
    You lose my respect, JE, by misreading my comments. I do not advocate a total and immediate ban of all weapons irrespective of the views of the majority of the population. I advocate changing those views.
    I do not have an argument against dealing with social disparity and poverty. Most right-thinking people have always fought for that.
    If you can only find cartoon-characterization and knee-jerk reactions is the opposing argument I suggest you look more closely.

  14. JE says:

    Dear JB, allow me to be the first to back down and yield to you if we are talking past each other. So this message is directed to doing just that. If we actually agree, then there’s no sense in letting a little internet text obscure that. So, in that vein, allow me to paraphrase my understanding of what you said so there is no mistake. I interpreted you to be saying:

    “The aftermath of the Va Tech shootings has demonstrated[1] that many Americans are in denial[2] about the necessity of gun control[1,3], or at least the need for a dialog[3] about it. These particular Americans hold unreasonable opinions[3] and are oblivious to the obvious[1] solution that all reasonable people in the rest of the world[3] have already come to, namely: tight gun control laws are the ONLY[4] answer.”

    In your reply, you claim I’m misreading you. You seem to conclude that I objected to a point of view that you don’t hold, namely “a ban of all weapons irrespective of the views of the majority of the population”. My comments weren’t directed at such a small target as that at all, though I do disagree with that as well. If my language was unclear, I apologize. My target was much broader that just the ban. I think the red herring is couching the debate in terms of gun control at all, irrespective of whether you respect the people’s will regarding that issue. So, even in advocating for a dialog about gun control with the people’s will held close to your breast, I still think you are shifting the focus from a more pressing issue which subsumes the gun issue, and that is social justice in the U.S.

    To be fair, I think I muddled the issue in the way I referenced the people’s will in regard to the Constitution. To clarify, in my mind, this is a natural synthesis of allowing fundamental work in social justice to result in synergy that will address root problems but also make the political milieu more hospitable to gun reform you have advocated. When you advocate gun control in the U.S., realize that you are going against a strong tide of opinion and Constitutional law that would require a sea change to effect. Simply crying out that “we need to ban (or debate about banning, whatever) guns” I think misses this fundamental point. It will take more than a dialog or 1000 dialogs to solve these problems. The very fabric of U.S. civil society as well as legal tradition will have to be altered. Needless to say, my perspective is that a dialog about gun control is a poor strategy and is thinking small. And advocating such a magic bullet in the way you did by calling it self evident and labeling many Americans as “in denial” can be taken as offensive by many readers. I am among those who take offense to such a characterization.

    Why not attack poverty since it is so much more important than gun control, and as a natural consequence of success, crime (of all types) and economic disparity will decrease. In this environment, it would be much easier to effect the Herculean effort it requires to amend the Constitution to permit effective gun control without trodding on the will of the people.

    In reading your response, I gather that you may have expressed some ideas contrary to your true feelings, though I could be wrong. Mainly I’m confused about two apparently contradictory statements you have made. When you say “I do not have an argument against dealing with social disparity and poverty”, I find this quite at odds with excerpt [4] below which indicates that the ONLY solution is tight gun control. I don’t necessarily believe that you question the importance of addressing poverty in other contexts. However, at the very least, you state in no uncertain terms, that the the only ONLY reasonable solution for the problem of gun crime is tight gun control. This position is rather absolute and seems to preclude pretty much anything else as a solution, including dealing with social disparity and poverty. So while you may want to cure the social ill of poverty for its own sake, your very own words have rejected it as a strategy for dealing with gun crime.

    In summary, I think gun control is a thorny issue in the U.S. It is divisive and anyway only solves one symptom (gun crime) and not the underlying problem. I think your advocacy, while well meaning, was perhaps unintentionally patronizing and lacked sophistication required by unique conditions in the U.S. Simply importing strategies used in Europe wholesale for use in a different social and legal environment I think is very naive.

    [1]
    “…listening to the interviews of students and others around the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it is quite clear that, for a significant number of people, the obvious and correct way to go is not even on the cards.”

    [2]
    Title: “Americans in Denial Over Gun Control”

    [3]
    “One can only hope that American citizens with open eyes, those who can see clearly, along with the rest of the world, that tight gun control laws are the only answer, will provide cogent and convincing arguments sufficient to draw their fellow countrymen back into the stream of reasonable opinion.”

    [4] Excerpted from [3] for emphasis, CAPS emphasis mine
    “tight gun control laws are the ONLY answer”

    jb says: JE, this thread is about gun control, NOT about poverty. If you want to debate poverty I’m sure you can find a place to do that. It has been debated since the world began. And, again, you come back to the question of how difficult it would be to affect useful gun-control laws in America. I know it will be difficult, no one is claiming that it will be easy. But let’s think back a little while; you guys got rid of slavery didn’t you? Over a relatively short period of history you went from almost total belief in the right of rich white people to own black slaves to an almost complete belief that it was an evil system.
    How did you do that? Not by talking about poverty I think, not by talking about anything else but the rights and wrongs of owning slaves.
    Now it’s time to talk about gun-control.

  15. JE says:

    Dear JB, I suppose we’ll have to disagree. My goal was not to push a poverty agenda. I merely wanted to push a cogent, well considered argument that your proposed solution to gun crime is wrong. Moreover, I think it is dishonest for me to simply tear down your arguments without proposing an alternative solution to the gun crime topic. My alternative solution involves crime reduction through trying to attain social equality. It has been a pleasure exchange ideas, though.

    jb says: Thanks, JE; it’s OK to disagree. I appreciate your argument as I would applaud any efforts to undermine social disparity in America or anywhere else in the world.

  16. marydell says:

    John, I am very pleased to see that this thread has turned into a very civil discussion of gun control. I know that you’ve stated several times that gun control itself needs to be discussed (rather than poverty or cross-cultural comparisons, for example), but all of the ideas mentioned above regarding poverty, differences in laws and crime rates by American region, constitutionality, etc. are very tied into conversations about gun control on this side of the Atlantic. It’s difficult for us to discuss one without bringing up the other.

    JE is absolutely right in so thoroughly discussing the US Constitution. Our government was founded on that document, and to chip away at the Second Amendment would be to chip away at our beliefs and philosophy as a country. Although we may not always realize it, platitudes like “from one, many” are ingrained in our minds. Here, individual rights are tantamount because we believe they contribute to the greater good of our society.

    I would like to see new laws enacted in order to make it harder for criminals and the mentally unstable (like Cho) to have access to guns. At the same time, I do not want to see the right to bear arms be taken away from the thousands of responsible gun owners. You’ve said that you are interested in debate as a means of changing our gun culture. However, owning a weapon is a fundamental American right and most of us will fight tooth and nail to keep our rights intact. Chipping away at the Second Amendment ultimately leads to more chipping away at the Constitution (which has been happening at an exponential rate in recent years), and I fear the slippery slope a whole lot more than guns.

    On another note, you also mention the abolition of slavery above and equate it to gun control. The evil of slavery wasn’t the only reason for the Civil War. Progress dictated that the US move toward a model of wage-based labor because slavery isn’t a viable economic system. The South ultimately lost because it could not compete with the industrialized North. Ridding ourselves of slavery was an entanglement of both economics and ethics. Ridding ourselves of guns is not just a matter of their evil, but also of our rights.

    jb says: Hi Marydell. I take your point about slavery, and agree, of course, that the abolition of slavery came about in the USA for the same reason it came about in the UK and the rest of Europe. You are correct in identifying that reason as economic. Slave owners came to see that if they paid a wage then they would no longer be responsible for their slaves. I brought that into the argument, however, simply to show that although change sometimes looks impossible, in a fairly short period of time it can come to look not only possible but desirable.
    I thin you are also right in pointing to the difficulties in gun-control in the USA being inextricably connected with the fear of “chipping away” at the constitution.
    So this is a fear to be dealt with. There have been many great and respected documents in world history, probably in all countries. And there is always great pressure brought to bear when anyone suggests changing one of these. It will be a slippery slope, it will lead to the erasing of all our rights. We have a similar debate in Europe at the moment, over whether we shall keep individual currencies within the European Economic Community. Some people fear that this will be the end of their freedom and their national identity. Once it is passed we shall all be ruled by ‘faceless bureaucrats’ in Brussels. Just like you, people are threatening to ‘fight tooth and nail’ to prevent this happening.
    We need to find a way to make it acceptable and desirable that we all have the same currency.
    You need to find a way to make it acceptable and desirable to control gun ownership to such an extent that guns don’t easily fall into the hands of people who can’t or won’t be responsible with them.

  17. BW says:

    Hello Jb,
    I commend you on the work you have undertaken on this blog. I am even more impressed with the way in which you deal with comments/reply’s that disagree with your point of view.

    I am a 29 year old UK citizen who believes I should have the right to possess a firearm. Therefore I would challenge much of what you say (I wont becausee people have challenged you in a for more coherent way than I have time for) but I wanted to congratulate you on the way you are hosting such an important debate.

    Keep up your honest and open work.

    I am hoping at some stage in the near future to begin formal research on the reasons for growing Gun Crime in the UK. If asked to comment, would you?

    jb says: Hi BW. Depends on how much you want and how busy I am. But in general, yes, of course.

  18. Diamond D says:

    Why do we need guns that shoot 50 rounds a second? Even if we do have a gun license, why do we need the gun. I am pretty sure someone who buys a gun like that whether they have a license or not they are most likely intending to hurt innocent people. Some guns should be kept out of the public’s reach. Guns like that should be kept in the military. GUN CONTROLL!!! It really is needed. Again why do we need guns like that?

    jb says: Seems like a reasonable question to me, Diamond.

  19. RW says:

    I am of the opinion that any sane American can see that having all citizens ( intelligent and dimwits) armed with a pistol in their waistband is an invitation to a shootout. Who in their right mind can endorse the manufacture and sale of handguns by the tens of millions. If you can do math you can figure it won’t be long before the streets are shooting galleries and everyone is bunkered down in their homes afraid to come out at night. That is insanity!

    It is pure darn greed that keeps the US Congress from enacting tight handgun controls. TIGHT! Lobbyists spend MILLIONS to prevent it. Congress laps up the money like a fat, greedy cat with no conscience. Mothers and Fathers – your children will die daily until this immoral US Congress does its duty and says no to the lobbyists. Vote the scoundrels out of office.

  20. william says:

    I am an American. I live in springfield Il. I think this is nuts. The right to bair arms is not for personal self defence. That right was never assumed to come into question. The right to bair arms is to assure the freedom of the people. It’s there to make sure the right to free speech, to assemable, and the freedom could never be taken with an armed populas. Have not you brits noticed a slow leaching of your rights sence you gun rights where taken from you!

    jb says: Hi William. It’s good to have a free man drop in.

  21. william says:

    Your Sarcasm is noted JB

    jb says: I think you’ll find it’s irony, William.

  22. Ira Socol says:

    As the first comment indicates, the typical completely uneducated American believes so firmly in childhood myths – guns prevent crime – universal health care means putting Stalin in power – rich people will do more to help you than your government – that change is either highly unlikely or impossible. And the education system will not get better. The average US teacher cannot describe Canada’s government, much less what anyone anywhere outside of North America does.

  23. Gerald Ewig says:

    Dear Mr. Baker,

    With all due respect to you and your country, I do not want the US to become like the UK; a country that has completely lost it’s sense of culture and history; a country with a population that has been so beaten down by a government of elitist bureaucrats that it’s citizens are afraid to defend themselves. A country with an unarmed populace does not have citizens; it has subjects. The UK is a nation of subjects, not citizens. The UK, the land of Churchhill, a country I used to admire when I was young, has become a nation of sniveling weaklings, incapable of defending their nation or culture. If Nazi Germany was threatening the UK today, the UK would surrender in a heartbeat.
    Mr. Baker, before you so flippantly condemn American culture, you may want to take the time to understand it. Unlike the weak, disempowered subjects that reside in you country, we do not trust government. As George Washington once said, “Government, at best, is a dangerous servant and, at worst, a terrible tyrant”. The second amendment to the Constitution was written with that thought in mind. The primary purpose of the Constitution was to restrict the power of government and empower the citizen. Americans understand that real freedom is rather messy and, at times, can result in negative outcomes.
    I have visited Europe, and I would much rather live in a truly free environment than in the phony freedom of Europe. Europe is not truly free or democratic. The average European is tied with velvet handcuffs to the government through national healthcare and other entitlements. Although I found most Europeans I met to be lovely people, they struck me as lacking self-confidence and seemed afraid of the future. In it’s present state, Europe is ripe for conquest. I can see why fundamentalist Muslims look at your countries with such scorn. I hope you wake up and face the danger before it is to late. Most Americans have already written you off. I, however, believe that there are still enough real Englishmen, Germans, Dutch, etc. that are willing to stand up and fight for their culture that you may survive. However, that may just be withfull thinking.

    Best regards,

    Gerald Ewig

    jb says: Hi Gerald. I like the George Washington quote. Spot on, I’d say. If you’d just given us that and left out all the predictable militarist right-wing waffle you might have made an impression. But as it stands the vast majority of Europeans will simply shrug you off like a mild upset in the weather.

  24. john baker says:

    from Gerald Ewig:

    Dear Mr. Baker,

    I was hoping for a bit stronger reaction to my hyperbole than the response you posted. Usually, when I submit an opinion that is “over the top”, particularly when it challenges the courage and will of another’s nation, I tend to receive a much more vigorous reply. The degree of animosity in the reply, or lack thereof, tells me much about the person with who I am communicating.
    In all seriousness, Mr. Baker, the differences between the US and UK on the matter of gun control are just a symptom of deeper differences. The average US citizen sees the government as a necessary evil; a construct which is needed, but if allowed to grow beyond a certain point will eventually smother the liberties of its’ citizens. My contact with citizens of the UK, as well as people from other European countries, has brought me to believe that they are much more willing to allow government agencies to control their lives in exchange for the perception of security. This is a fundamental difference between our national cultures. As Benjamin Franklin is attributed to have written, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety”.
    The willingness of UK citizens to cede power to government authority extends to personal self defense. I have read (“Gun Control in England: The Tarnished Gold Standard”, Joyce Lee Malcolm) that in the UK, the government actively discourages citizens from defending themselves from an attacker. Also, if a third party sees another person being assaulted, the government discourages the third party from coming to the aid of the victim. In fact, the victim or the third party can actually be arrested for resisting the attacker, particularly if the attacker is injured. This situation would be unthinkable in the Midwestern US, where I reside.
    Obviously, our little exchange over the internet is not going to change the positions of you, I, or of our individual nations. However, I do think it is worthwhile to have these discussions, if only to expose the deep-seated differences that exist between our cultures on a number of basic issues. It has been enjoyable crossing “verbal swords” with you.

    Best regards,

    Gerald Ewig

    jb says: Gerald, is it so difficult to understand that we don’t want you to be like us, and we certainly don’t want to be like you. Yes, we have a fight on with our various European governments, mainly over their slavish support for your country’s foreign policy. And I can easily understand where you’re coming from and empathise with your fantasies of power and strength. After all you are a citizen of a country which was in ascendency for most of the 20th century and now all that is slipping away. In a few years the economic and military might will belong to China and you’ll be jumping through their contortions instead of your own. But that’s what happens, isn’t it? Rome had an empire similar to yours. As did Greece and Egypt and a few others places. When I think about it the British had something similar themselves.
    You are not who you say you are. Not even who you think you are. Don’t you ever wake up in the morning and wonder where you’ve been?
    I criticise your gun laws because you and several others in your country are in blatant denial that those laws lead to many more deaths and maimings of innocent and often very young people than would be the case if you introduced sensible and reasonable laws to restrict easy access.
    Almost everyone else in the world understands that without much trouble. Very many of your own countrymen understand that. It’s a really simple math. But the gun lobby and its easy cash has managed to brainwash the rest of you and put you to sleep.
    This whole argument is about trying to wake you up.

  25. Alcohol rehab says:

    I’m not currently living in America anymore but I do like to read what’s happening home. Every online newspaper has the same stories under different titles. They all speak about gun control, rehab and celebrities. All together or separate. Some star shot someone and was sent to rehab. Some kids opened fire in an institute. Some kids were being checked into rehab at the age of 14. Isn’t anything good happening in our country? I’m sick of politics and violence. I miss some good articles about a new book or a good review of a play.

    jb says: Hi. I read a good book by Philip Roth recently.

  26. Louis Levy says:

    Dear Mr. Baker,

    You seem to be a bright man. Please use some of your intellect to consider why you are completely wrong about gun control . . .

    jb says: I’ve deleted the rest of this (almost) 2000 word long tirade of tired arguments supporting the status quo. A comment is a comment, Louis, not a patronising essay which doggedly refuses to compromise in the name of ‘reason’.

  27. Louis Levy says:

    Your mind is so closed, the echo in there must be deafening.

    Perhaps you might take a moment to explain to us what has
    transpired in your life that makes you so prejduce about guns.

    I choose the term prejduce very carefully. I think that there
    can be little doubt that your complete unwillingness to even
    consider that you might be in any way mistaken is a clear
    inducation that.

    jb says: I’m not prejudiced against guns, Louis, or any other inanimate objects. But there are some objects which I do not wish to place in the hands of babes, school-children, the insane, the irresponsible or anyone who might be tempted to use them to harm others. If you want to talk about how we can bring that about I’m all ears.
    But if you just want to justify your stance that god needs everyone to have a weapon, you need to talk to someone else.

  28. Louis Levy says:

    Fare enough John.

    What you have just said makes sense.

    Let me begin by saying that those who are
    the most outraged and angry when we see
    a story in the news about senseless gun violence,
    are law abiding gun owners. I personally know dozens
    of such people, from all walks of life. We have descussed
    how we feel when something like the V.T. tragedy happens.
    Their rage at the killer was palpable.

    We understand how such events effect the
    attitudes of the public. In a time when the media
    is almost completely committed to portraying
    guns as evil, and gun owners as the radical
    fringe, we see that there in no one to speek
    for us, to provide even a modest balance
    to the negitive impressions being fostered and
    we fear for the future of our right to have firearms.

    I have NEVER met a gun owner who wants kids, criminals,
    or crazies to get guns. At present there are over ten
    thousand gun laws in effect that are intended to prevent
    that from happening. As I said before, it is reasonable to
    make the assumption that people engaged in criminal
    activity are not very likely to obay laws about guns. History
    seems to have proven this to be true.

    Please undestand that the crazies and the violent
    criminals that use a gun to hurt and to kill are not
    Us. They typically do not hunt, sport shoot, or collect
    guns. They typically do not belong to the N.R.A. They
    certainly do not apply for licences to carry a concealed
    firearm.

    In my home State of Pennsylvania there are over
    100,000 citizens licensed to carry a concealed firearm
    for self-protection. The State Police have the authority
    to pull a licence for any good valid reason. The total
    number of licences revoked each year is around a dozen.
    Most of those revocation are for things like, D.U.I. convictions,
    or spousal protection orders.

    jb says: You’re not listening, Louis. You’re not interested in a debate. I’ve published the drivel you wrote above and I’ll let it stand. But unless you engage in the debate about how to bring about a CHANGE in your own and others’ opinions I won’t publish anything else from you (or anyone else for that matter). If you want to propagate your ancient and outmoded views, that’s fine by me. Start your own blog and do it there.
    For what it’s worth, though I know you won’t get the point. Gun control is social control. All governments, yours included, use some kind of social controls. Around the availability of drugs for example. Or the age of sexual consent. When a cause is not popular it is often flouted, sometimes by a vast majority of the population, as was the case with cigarette-smokers around a decade ago. Or as was the case with the idea that one could keep slaves a couple of generations back.
    We changed people’s opinions and now we don’t have slaves and people who want to smoke have to go find somewhere where they won’t hurt the rest of us.
    With regard to your arguments against gun control; we have already had them. That debate has taken place and we now know, incontrovertibly, that when you cut down the number of guns in society you also cut down drastically the number of deaths and maimings.
    The next step is how to bring that state about. That’s what we have to discuss. I can understand why you want to hold us back and carry on discussing the first part. But it’s over. Get over it. Move on.

  29. K says:

    I think you are the one in denial – don’t like the fact that Republicans are – gasp! – right about something, so you claim that the blah blah blah . . .

    jb says: Come back when you can talk nice, K.

  30. For the past three decades the US national statistics have proven that less than 1% of the criminals intent upon committing a crime have been found to use a legally registered weapon, and that gun control laws to date have been unable to stop or aid in the apprehension and conviction of a single armed homicide or robbery.

    These facts have been the cause of much consternation among gun control advocates, resulting in a need to shift their posture on gun control from that of “protection from criminals,” through the reduction of constitutional rights, to that of enforcing a more humane means of civil protection through the “elevation of human rights”. The result is a newly re-defined definition of gun control.

    GUN CONTROL: The politically acceptable and government imposed posture which espouses “The Doctrine” that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her own pantyhose, is a morally superior constitutional right, qualified by it’s humane means of reducing the affliction of mental anguish upon the self-same woman who would otherwise be forced into explaining to the police her escape from death and how her attacker got that fatal bullet wound.

    jb says: Dr Kelley, you know better than most that statistics prove nothing.

  31. Catalino says:

    I think it is somewhat amusing to find an English website debating American gun laws (more like slandering them). Its quite obvious by the clear one sidedness of this forum that most British people (at least most of you on this site) have a clue of American culture other than what is portrayed in movies and of course our commonalities provided by our intermingled past. America is a country whose freedom was purchased at the barrel of a gun, and has been maintained at the barrel of a gun. Guns are an inherent part of our culture and despite what other countries may see as an open shut case or a clear cut argument, Americans have a love affair with guns that outsiders or more docile and liberal cultures will never understand. Americans will never willingly give up their guns. ” From my cold dead hands” would be echoed from coast to coast if ever a disarmament was attempted.

    jb says: What we gonna do about you, Catalino? If you weren’t obviously part of a dying breed it would be a vexing question for us more docile cultures.

  32. Why says:

    I believe that guns should not be banned. If there is ever an issue when it is neccessary to defend ones self or the general public what would we do. Yeah, we would call the cops, but what if they were not stationed close by. Would we watch as innocent lives are taken by the rage of someone who does not heed to the laws. If you are able to keep a weapon conceled in your car you could prevent serveral casualties until the police arrived with armed forces.
    Lets say there is an illegal immagrent or terrorist that just wants to have “fun”. They wouldn’t care what the law stated. They probably wouldn’t even know what the law stated. Then where would we be. We would be in a helpless situation without guns. Lives of those we love and know would be taken. Women, expectent mothers, mothers, wives, children, babys, husbands, fathers. People that we know their familys would morn for. Guns should NOT be banned.

    jb says: Hi Meg. You obviously have a big heart and will never be short on compassion. You just need to work on your imagination a little.

  33. Micromonkey says:

    I just have a few quick points I would like to raise on this subject. Firstly I find it incredible that in this day and age a so called ‘civilised’ nation can still use a piece of outdated legislation to propogate the manufacture and sale of items which have no purpose other than to take lives. The Second Amendment to the Constitution is a piece of irrelevant nonsense, admittedly when it was drafted there was a need to maintain a standing armed force but in today’s world that is simply no longer the case. I know many of you Americans suffer a strange irrational fear of foreign invasion, or even differing modes of government (say communism) but you have a vast army for that purpose, so that can’t be the reason. Furthermore the oft-cited argument that guns are somehow vital for self defense is just as ludicrous. If you need a gun to shoot the ‘bad guys’ what exactly stops those same bad guys posessing a gun, however tight your gun control is inevitably in a country where vast amounts of arms are produced many of them will wind up on the black market. I just wonder how many more senseless bloody killings your nation needs before it finally sees sense.

  34. Stonewall 79 says:

    while the viginia tech incedent was very sad, and your argument moving, there was one fatal flaw; the guns used by th killer were puchased ILLEGALY by an ILLEGAL dealer. strict lawas do not affect those who operate outside them. rather than making more gun controll laws, the government should address the real problem and crack down on illegal gun trafficing instead of restricting law abiding citizens

    jb says: Sorry, Stonewall, but if you’re going to use virginia tech as a yardstick, you must also include the other school killings as well. I wonder why you didn’t. No I don’t wonder, I know why you didn’t. Because it doesn’t suit your prejudice to do so.

  35. John says:

    According to me, when it’s easy to obtain guns, gun related violence and crimes will be higher, the same as with alcohol. Take for example a country like Sweden, they can only sell alcohol over 3.5 percent in government shops, and only Monday to Friday and Saturday to 3 PM. Before they didn’t sell on Saturdays and when they did, domestic violence rose quite significant.

    With guns however, it’s different since it’s a civilian right to purchase arms, and it’s linked to personal security. I think more restrictions would be a good idea.

  36. dwray says:

    I find it simply hilarious that some snaggle-toothed Brit is whining about our gun laws. . .

    jb says: There were another thousand words or so to this post, but I deleted them without reading further. Some people just need to work on their openings . . .

  37. john baker says:

    Comments are now closed for this entry.