Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The British Perspective on Guns / and Why / Part 3

This is Part 3.  I appreciate John’s British perspective.  I found it very informative.  He has recently answered the two questions I put forth in Part 2; which I will now share with all of you.

True’s Question #1:

John, do you think that Americans (reflective of our culture and demographics) are more violent than the British; and, if so, why?

John’s Response:  In terms of assaults against the person there have been studies which show that the UK has a higher statistical rate than the US. Both societies are much the same in terms of the culture of violent TV shows and video games, the fracturing of the traditional family unit, and the assimilation of immigrants from totally differing cultures.  But the UK also has a lower legal drinking age (18) than the US.  The mixture of alcoholic brews and testosterone is a recipe for disorderly behavior at the least, DUII's and violent assaults further up the scale. The main weapon of the UK inner city thug is the knife, as firearms are far harder to obtain.  The bladed weapon is certainly capable of causing death but it is not the efficient killer that the gun is.  One study showed that assaults in the UK involving firearms are 1 in 13, far lower than the US.

Even the most meek and out-of-shape among us is transformed into a lethal force when a gun is in the hand.  So in terms of violence in the US resulting in fatalities the rate is much higher than the UK, simply because the easier to use and more deadly the weapon the higher will be the body count.  And although the US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, it is not the highest in firearms related deaths.  That dubious distinction is shared by certain Central American and Caribbean countries.  Even so, watching the local TV evening news, I am struck by the notion that the rate of gang-related shootings rivals that of Belfast and Londonderry during the height of the Troubles; minus, of course, the mass casualty bombings.

True's Question #2:

John, do you think our Second Amendment is a good and necessary aspect of our Constitution?

John’s Response:  The Second Amendment.  Absolutely I believe it is good and necessary; although I' m sure the Founding Fathers would scratch their wigs at the dazzling array of battlefield weaponry which is available to the public.

Speaking solely with the perspective of my British background, and as a former unarmed cop, I believe such high capacity military type weapons should be restricted to gun club members and housed on those premises.  But that's me, who is still amazed that when I buy a gun I do not have to provide a reason for doing so to the authorities.  One aspect of gun ownership that I am in favor of is that there should be legal consequences for those gun owners who fail, through negligence or carelessness, to keep their weapons secure and are used by others to kill and maim the innocent. Being a lawful gun owner confers (or should) a tremendous personal responsibility to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands.

But getting back to the issue, the civilian right to bear arms was essential to safeguard the new republic from its enemies.  The gun was also a critical tool of survival for the pioneers and adventurers who pushed ever deeper into the unknown and often hostile lands, much the same as their opposite numbers in Australia and Canada.  In today's world, the threat is no longer from the Redcoats, the Spanish or the Apaches, but the armed criminals who prey off society and from whom the law abiding citizen is fully entitled to protect themselves. The Second Amendment is perhaps even more relevant in these times.

True’s Postscript:  As a past member of the NRA, I do feel that organization has gone too far in its unwavering defense of weapons that have no hunting, sporting, or reasonable personal protection function.  Although, I do understand that ‘reasonable personal protection’ is like beauty – in the eyes of the beholder.  Nonetheless, I’m referring to strictly anti-personnel weaponry of the worst kind:  such things as ‘Street Sweeper’ shotguns and military grade weapons with high capacity magazines.  Yes, I know, some collectors like to have them – but for what purpose, I’m really not sure.  However, if a person does have such a weapon and allows it to be misused or unsecured, the punishment should be severe.

I’ve often thought that guns should be rated, under law, according to their potential anti-personnel lethalness.  For example:  revolvers, traditional shotguns with three round capacity, and single-shot or bolt action rifles would be a ‘category one.’  On the other end, a ‘Street Sweeper shotgun (depicted above) or a Kalashnikov AK47 (depicted below) should be a ‘category five.’  Law violations and subsequent penalties should consider the weapon’s assigned category.  In my opinion, using a ‘category five’ weapon in commission of a crime should warrant ‘life’ in prison.

True Nelson

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