Monday, 17 December 2012

Right to bear arms? Time for change

Before I begin I should state that I am not making a judgement about American national politics, nor am I lining myself up as a Foreign national claiming to be an expert or telling them what they should do. Just making observations.

The Second Ammendment of the US constitution states that citizens have the right to bear arms. Fairly black and white. However it was written in 1791 and had it's origins in the English constitution from the century before that. For the English it was a necessity that the population could be quickly mobilised into an anti Catholic rebellion should James II or any of the Stuart pretenders retake the crown and enforce armed dictatorship.

In the US it was a knee jerk to their own successful rebellion against the British which ended in 1783 but left Canada firmly under the British crown and the perfect springboard for an invasion. There was also the need to let people have arms incase the Republic turned to a dictatorship as it did in France. It provided the people with a fail safe that should Washington become a Robespierre they could overthrow him - unlike the British, who under General Gage marched on an arms cache at Lexington and sparked the rebellion.
There was also the native question. During the revolutionary war the native populations fought for Britain, some for Washington others made assaults on settlements for their own ends. Citizens wanted, needed, the right to defend their homes otherwise all might be dead before the army arrived. This was true through the 19th century in the central and western states. However after the massacre of Wounded Knee (1890) the question of a full native rebellion was cruelly answered.

Let's be honest, the type of nations that would invade the US are the type who's military would destroy a village for the death of one soldier at a civilian's hands. Why do you think British citizens weren't routinely armed incase of Nazi invasion? It isn't up to Mrs Homersham of 69 Vale drive to grab a Sten gun and have at the Paratroopers - leave it to the regular or irregular forces.

The only possible threat for the average citizen in the states is from a home invasion or possibly from a wild animal out in extremely rural areas.

As President Obama stated, the sort of incidents like the Newtown school accident that broke the hearts of people the world over, have become all to common in recent times. According to this report the NRA believe that getting rid of schools is the solution - but I sincerely hope this is a hoax!

The US needs to look to Canada where there is a greater gun ownership but a lot fewer incidents like this.

Another suggestion is - well I'm confused as to why anyone needs an automatic, a Kalashnikov or Uzi as "home defence" or for hunting purposes. These sort of weapons should be Military or Police grade equipment. It isn't sporting to hunt a deer with a gun that can fire a full autoburst of 100 rounds a minute - what's wrong with a bolt action rifle?

A bullet fired from a 9mm pistol or rifle will wound or kill an attacker just as surely as an automatic weapon so why do you need more firepower?

I know many factions, usually sited on the right of the American spectra will call this an attack on their constitutional right or liberty but they need to think about the bigger issues here. Twenty six people were killed, mostly children aged between 6 and 8, the most innocent of innocents. How can the liberty to carry a gun be valued more highly than the lives of children or innocent people in a cinema, a university campus, walking down the street in Washington?

As I said, I am not casting judgement upon the US or it's politics. All I will say is that every innocent life taken is one life too many and something must be done.

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