Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords and the trail of tears of America's gun culture

When I became a U.S. Citizen last September the guest speaker, a local Republican delegate, gave a speech on how my fellow new citizens and I were lucky enough to now be able to embrace the right to bear arms, telling the story of a rape victim who would not have been violated if she'd owned a Colt 45.

I thought thanks but no thanks. I've only been in the U.S. for five years but I've stood outside enough crime scenes, including those where small boys have blown out their brains with their parents' guns, to know the downside to the glorious right to bear arms.

So here we go again. US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fights for her life after receiving a bullet to the head in Arizona. Another six people including a nine-year-old girl are dead.

For Arizona read Virginia Tech, Columbine, Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, McDonald's restaurant in San Diego, Red Lake High School in Minnesota and so on.

Just last week at the opening of Congress, Giffords read out the First Amendment.

It would have been a lot more ironic if she had been asked to read the Second.

I don't want to get all stuck up and British about this. The U.S. Constitution is superior to the ad hoc British system in so many ways.

With the possible exception of the Second Amendment, which gives the right to any random nutjob such as Jared Lee Loughner to be given their few minutes of bloody fame clutching a firearm.

Or maybe, as many people tell me over here, I am being over simplistic in my approach and argument that, rather than protecting people, guns make us less safe. I should stick to the safer territory of warm beer and fish and chips.

So I'll retreat into the black and white world of statistics, before moving on to the next blog that I promise will be in primary colors.

Homicides 2009

London, UK - population: 7.5 million; homicides; 130

New Orleans, USA - population: 288,000; homicides: 173

Go figure.

14 comments:

  1. I can understand how you feel, I really can.

    Even if you have anti gun laws, criminals can and do and will still get guns. Which if you look at the stats from say Nola like you listed, I am pretty sure those were not committed by the people who have attained guns legally and were more than likely committed by criminals who did not get the guns legally.

    Look at Brazil, it has very strict gun laws and yet Rio and Sao Paulo combine for over 10,000 murders every year.

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  2. well it's true there have been gun massacres in Britain, despite stricter gun laws. But there seem to be a lot more over here.

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  3. I think Oilfield's point is well taken ... However, not sure if the homicide statistics from Brazil (apparently it's not all a great big, fun loving Carnivale' down there!) are only for gun-related homicides, or all homicides.

    At any rate, I have absolutely no quibble with the fundamental premise of the "right to bear arms" - and no argument with hunters and/or other folks for whom the use of guns for sport (legally, obviously) has been a long standing, family type tradition and lifestyle. As with any freedom, those who abuse the privilege make it difficult for the rest, and today's horrific incident is yet another example of that. I have only caught snippets of the news today, but did hear that a nine year old was killed in the attack that wounded the congresswoman.

    I would never consider owning a gun or having one in my home, although I know people who do, and I take no issue with their right. But, I just can't get past the feeling that David expresses - it makes me feel less safe, rather than more.

    Best,

    PMT
    http://thisthattheotherone.blogspot.com

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  4. I am shocked at the disparity in those stats.

    And, like PM Taylor, I'm feeling much less safe.

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  5. Something to be said for the points you make.

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  6. I'd love to see guns banned everywhere. I'm also a hypocrite because I own a gun. I've been going shooting with my grandpa for a while now. There is some sentimentality there and to be honest shooting a gun is pretty damn fun.

    I'd give it up in a heartbeat to have this never happen though.

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  7. I'm with you David. We have strict gun laws, and yes there are murders with people using guns. And now someone will probably massage the statistics to show we're no better off than you guys up there.

    Someone asked me recently "Would you feel safer in Norway and Switzerland" (where apparently gun toting is expected by those undertaking military training) "or the US, where any untrained person can indulge his or her fancy"? Can you guess the answer?

    As for a rape victim not becoming a statistic if she carried a gun... so I expect the assailant is going to encourage her get to her bag to fumble around, take aim etc? I don't think so, a rapist isn't that chivalrous.

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  8. I think that people that want to kill will, some wife drove over her cheating husband.. should cars be banned. [better cheating husbands banned]

    I wish I knew the answer but messing with the ammendents isn't the way. Upholding the laws is.

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  9. I live in Tucson, and I voted for Ms. Giffords. People from other parts of the US need to know, her office was attacked after her vote on healthcare. My wife and I are distraught over has happened in our adopted state today, but honestly, the way things have been going the last couple years, not totally surprised.

    Both of my parents served in the US military- one a registered Democrat, one a registered Republican. To see someone killed for serving our country makes me profoundly sad.

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  10. Thanx PMT - I agree with you re hunters etc. I guess there must be a way to make it harder for wackjobs to get guns, tho. I know Deborah, although the US never feels as unsafe when you are here as many people in Britain think it is. Thanks Together We Save and Christopher, value the comments. Thanks Sue, yeah those places are generally safer, although there was a massacre in Finland recently. Isn't there a cheating husband exemption, Laura? Hang in there, Tim - must feel weird in Tuscon right now.

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  11. Interesting feedback and I am impressed that, given the volatility of the topic and disparity of opinion, all of the respondents are very well considered and respectful - wonderful to see.

    @Tim, I am in So Cal (not too far from you) and there is a lot of emotion (on both sides) about this right now. Cannot begin to imagine what it is like in AZ. I read this morning about Ms. Giffords being targeted after her vote. In that same piece, I also read that another politician put a photo of Ms Giffords on a website - and the photo was of her inside a crosshairs. I do not know if that is a fact. Does anybody know if that is factual? If so, truly disturbing that public officials encourage hate and violence.

    PMT
    http://thisthattheotherone.blogspot.com

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  12. Very poignant argument, David. Those stats are quite telling. I'm in full agreement with you.
    xoRobyn

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  13. Thanks Robyn, good to see you're back. I agree PM. The feedback has been very constructive and civilized...

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  14. Surely the US government must make more stringent rules on who can get their hands on guns. I know what side of the pond I'd prefer to raise my kids.

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