The recent mass murder in Nevada has once again brought the subject of gun control into the media spotlight. Debates about the Second Amendment, the availability of converted weapons to fire on fully automatic, and the laws that mean some people, in some states, can own as many guns as they can afford to buy. In many American towns and cities, carrying guns at all times is completely legal. These can be openly displayed, or concealed about a person, depending on where you live. Background checks are random, and gun shops are often laid out like superstores of lethal weaponry.
I have many blogging friends who live in the USA. At least three of them own guns, and defend their right to do so, for various reasons. The most prominent of these being the fear of home invasion, robbery, burglary, a random attack in the street, or whilst driving. Given the proliferation of firearms of all kinds in that country, I can understand why these are real fears. As I have said before, I don’t have to live there. Another side to gun ownership is the action by the police, when apprehending suspects or attending 911 calls. They tend to presume that any culprit will be armed, and this generates a fear that manifests itself on occasion by the ‘shoot first’ policy that has caused so much outrage in that country. But if you were an American policeman, approaching a scene you were unsure of, then what would you do? We cannot really answer that, unless we have been in that situation.
Despite the recent uproar, the archaic Second Amendment is unlikely to be repealed. We have all heard the old arguments about that ‘Right to Bear Arms’.
“If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.
And many more…
But the fact is that banning personal ownership of guns will eventually make it harder for criminals to get them, whatever the arguments by the NRA. It is also indisputable that criminals and robbers will tend to carry guns more often if they believe that their intended target or victim is armed. And it is worth noting that the worst shooting atrocities in the USA are not carried out by criminals, or those from ethnic minorities. Most of them, including the recent Nevada shooting, are the work of white men, with apparently ‘normal’ lives, allowed to buy and accumulate weapons and ammunition in large numbers.
Carrying your pistol to fight off a street robber wouldn’t have done you much good against that determined sniper in a Las Vegas hotel, after all.
In the UK, in 1996, gun club member, and self-confessed ‘gun nut’, Thomas Hamilton entered a school in the small town of Dunblane, Scotland. He was carrying four legally-owned handguns. Two Browning Hi-Power 9 mm pistols, and two .357 magnum revolvers. He also had almost 750 rounds of extra ammunition. In the school gymnasium, he shot and killed sixteen children under the age of eleven, and one adult teacher, before shooting himself dead. The reason why he did this remains unknown. Following this shooting, the gun laws in Britain were radically revised, making it almost impossible to legally own a handgun.
These statistics from the Internet give some indication of the differences in gun deaths in the UK and the USA. They include Police shootings of suspects.
“In the United Kingdom, in the most recent year for which I have data (2011), the gun death rate from all causes was 0.23 per 100,000. That works out to about 145 in 2011.
In the United States, for the year 2014, the gun death rate from all causes was 10.54 per 100,000. That works out to 33,612 in 2014.
The UK gun death rate is one of the lowest in the world for the very simple reason that few people have guns.”
In one year alone, 2014, 33, 612 people died in America, as a result of someone using a gun. Just one year, and that was three years ago. It doesn’t include so many shooting incidents that have happened since. What will it take, for you to give up your guns, America?