Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Gun Culture by Jenny Twist

I completely understand Tara’s belief that guns are necessary for protection, but the argument smacks to me of the double-think practised in George Orwell’s ‘1984’.

Guns are not for protection. They are weapons. Their purpose is to kill. Bullet-proof vests are for protection.

If you take the argument to its logical conclusion everybody in the world would have to go about armed all the time. School would be manned by armed guards. Do we really want to live in a society where we spend our lives being prepared to kill our neighbours and fellow citizens?

Guns don’t make you safe. They put you in perpetual danger.

You are 40 times more likely to be a victim of gun crime in the USA than in England, where the gun laws are very strict indeed. (See my previous article).

I know that the American people hold their right to bear arms very dear and I appreciate that. But two things occur to me.

1.     The promise was made at a time when the most lethal weapons available were muskets and long rifles, firing one round at a time and taking between one and two minutes to re-load. The legislators at the time could hardly have envisaged the kind of sophisticated weapons available now and surely did not intend the law to extend to any weapon that might be invented in the future.  To interpret the law this way is the same principle as refusing a blood transfusion to a dying child because of the way you choose to interpret the biblical passage “Thou shalt not eat blood.”

2.     Why do the American people care so much about the right to bear arms? Surely the only reason the average citizen in a civilised country would need a lethal weapon would be if the country was attacked by an invader and the military was unable to protect the people. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. Personally, I’d rather risk that scenario than risk the lives of innocent children on an everyday basis.

Here is an extract from Domingo’s Angel where the good guys don’t win:

Later the men returned. But they returned without their guns and with their hands bound roughly behind them with rope. Behind them came the soldiers, their guns pointing at the prisoners, their faces like stone. Carlos was at the front, his face twisted in anger, a great red stain on the front of his shirt, spreading as he walked. Rosalba ran forward, but a soldier came up and pushed her to the ground.

When they reached the square, the ragged band of men stopped and a soldier came to the front and began to speak.

“People of the village of Amendillas, We have come to liberate you from the oppressive forces of the Republicans. We are going to Madrid to fight the upstart rebels and restore the old ways.”

The villagers listened, unmoving, their faces entirely without expression. They had been liberated before and had not enjoyed the experience.

The man stood up straighter and went on, “Our orders are to recruit all the able-bodied men for the army and to shoot all those who refuse.” He frowned and gave a piercing look to the band of prisoners. “It would seem that all the men of this village have chosen to oppose us. But we will be merciful on this occasion. We will only shoot the ringleaders and the rest will have a choice.”

He raised his voice. “Bring forth the ringleaders!”

Carlos and two others, the Gálvez brothers, stumbled forward, propelled by a rough thrust from the soldiers behind them.

“No!” screamed Rosalba and tried to get up from the ground. Her head ached abominably and a wave of dizziness swept over her. She sank back onto the cobbles.

There were murmurings from the villagers and shuffling of feet, but nobody attempted to intervene.

As Rosalba struggled once again to get up, she heard Carlos call her name, but before she could stand, the captain barked out the order “Fire!” and she rose in time to see Carlos slump down against the wall, leaving a trail of blood on the plaster. It was the same wall where they had shot her father.

The captain turned again to the prisoners. “Is there anyone here who is not prepared to fight for the Fatherland?”

Nobody answered.

“Very well. Forward, march!”

As a post script, I’d like to respond to Tara’s comments on the gun culture.

I agree heartily with everything she says. We are bringing our children up to worship guns and violence. We buy them video games in which they can massacre people in droves. We train them to be killers and then we give them real guns to play with when they grow up.

It is most certainly time to change the culture.

Let’s teach our children to love and respect each other. Let them grow up in a world where they do not have to live in fear. Get rid of the vile killing games and lock away the guns!

I rest my case.


ManicScribbler said...

Huge thanks to Jenny Twist and Tara Fox Hall for this fascinating debate. I've really enjoyed reading your articles and all the excellent and persuasive comments from readers.

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you so much for hosting us, Lyn. We really appreciate you giving us the opportunity and, like you, are amazed by the quality of the response.

Tara Fox Hall said...

Yes, Lyn, I second Jenny's thanks and add a dose of my own. It was very nice to have a chance to discuss our views rationally and hear some feedback from others on what we've said :)

Jezri said...

Well, I would like to point out a few flaws in the post: Yes, the second amendment came about when the guns were muskets. However if someone were to break into my home, they would not be carrying a musket, they would be carrying a modern gun.

Also, you say, Surely the only reason the average citizen in a civilised country would need a lethal weapon would be if the country was attacked by an invader and the military was unable to protect the people.

The second amendment gives us the right to bear arms, not just against enemies from without, but enemies from within. Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers said, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Why do American people care so much about the right to bear arms? Because it is our right. We fought for our freedom and we are not about to let it be taken away from us. I don't own a gun. I may never... I don't know. I've thought about it. I have kids and live in a horrible neighborhood. We had a home invasion 4 houses down from me last month. The homeowners fought back and the man that attacked them is dead. Because they defended themselves. I called the police once because someone was banging on my windows in the middel of the night. They never showed up. If someone had broken in, would I have been able to defend my kids? I don't know.But at least the Second Amendment gives me the right to do so.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Jezri

I fully understand how you feel about it and don't disagree with your right to bear arms. Tara and I were just using this as a means of demonstrating the difference between the two cultures. I have had the luxury of living all my life in countries where the citizenry does not routinely go about armed. I have never had to fear an armed intruder.
But I still feel that there might be ways of making lethal weapons less available for any lunatic to go on a massacre spree.
Thanks for visiting the site and giving your views

Susan said...

We want to keep our guns because the criminals have no intention of giving up theirs, no matter what the laws are. A bulletproof vest - which are horrendously uncomfortable, by the way - will not protect you from a carjacking, or a home invasion, or a headshot. A gun might not either, but at least you have a fighting chance.

The Second Amendment is there for a reason. Decent people don't commit crimes, but we do have the right to protect ourselves.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

There is irony to this subject posted by a Brit because the Second Amendment was written into the Constitution of the United States to allow arms to defend against the British. LOL Just saying...

G. B. Miller said...

Interesting that people are debating gun culture, like its the be all to end all, all the while ignoring the proverbial 2 ton elephant in the room that is mental illness.

If you're debating gun culture, gun control, the right to bear arms, etc. etc. etc., you have to add mental illness into the debate.

Without, the debate really means nothing.

And by the way, in case anyone wants to refer to the shooting at Sandy Hook in my home state, please remember it was 27 people murdered, not 26.

Seems that everyone (including the media) conveniently forgets that the shooters mother was the first victim in that awful tragedy.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Susan
Of course you want to keep your guns in the present climate. I don't blame you. I was just envisaging a society where it was not necessary, as it is not necessary in England.
Nor do I advocate wearing bullet-proof vests. I was merely pointing out the difference between aggression and defence. Maybe sword and shield would have been a better analogy.
Decent people don't worry me at all and I suppose there is very little we can do about career criminals (although in England they rarely go armed, presumably because they don't expect their victims to be armed - Catch 22?).
What concerns me is the relative ease with which guns can be acquired. I am particularly worried about assault weapons. Had the Sandy Hook killer had an ordinary hand gun, I don't suppose he could have killed so many so fast.

Jenny Twist said...

Hello, Sarah
It IS ironic, isn't it? And here I am, trying to disarm you again. I think you're safe from us now, though. We'd have a job trying to invade anyone, let alone the vast land of America. In a way you've invaded us. You wouldn't believe how much of our television is American. And it's obvious that England is rapidly adopting American culture. That is my pathetic excuse for having the audacity to air my opinions on your laws. I sometimes think America is so powerful the whole of the rest of the world ought to be able to vote in your elections. But that's the subject of another blog! So nice to see you here.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi GB. We did actually get an interesting comment earlier on regarding the whole issue of mental health. (you can click on Older Post at the bottom to find it). Of course it needs to be addressed. You are absolutely right. Mental Health is the poor relation in the social services. Same here in England. There are people with serious problems walking the streets.
But it seems to me it wouldn't do any harm to put in some controls as well. Even if you did have an incredibly efficient mental health programme some people would slip through the net.
Surely the problem here was exacerbated by the mother keeping an assault weapon in the house. I assume she knew her son had mental health problems? And anyway why would any ordinary citizen have such a thing? I don't know enough of the background here, but I'm assuming the weapon either wasn't locked away, or it was easy to get the key and/or break the lock. Please don't think I'm suggesting she asked for it. I doubt if anything she could have done would have prevented her son murdering her. I'm just saying that the availability of the weapon allowed him to go on a killing spree. If he'd had to use a knife, for example, there's no way he could have killed so many before somebody stopped him.
Thank you for your comment. Very valuable. I'm beginning to think there ought to be a whole new series of blogs based on the brilliant comment we've received on this one.

ManicScribbler said...

I have to agree with you, there, Jenny. The comments have been amazing and each one deserving of serious attention and debate.

Your gun debate has been tremendously popular (the blog having received almost 1300 visits in the last three days) so very well done to the two of you in putting across your views on this controversial subject in a calm, rational and intelligent way.

Herbert Grosshans said...

I've already made my comment about my feelings in an older post, but I'd like to add one more. It's about Oscar Pistorius, the South African runner who shot his girlfriend. Apparently, he thought there was an intruder in the bathroom. I'm not commenting on that, but if he wouldn't have had a gun so readily available, his girlfriend would still be alive today. I remember an incident that happened in Winnipeg many years ago, when a woman shot her husband by accident when he came home late at night. She thought he was someone trying to break into her house. Many people who own guns are not properly trained to use them. As a hunter I obey one important rule: Never pull hat trigger unless you are sure of your target.

Jenny Twist said...

Well said, Herbert. As you say, there are valid reasons for owning a gun but it is so important to be aware just how dangerous they are. We don't have any dangerous predators left in England or indeed Spain, where I now live. Which could be one reason why people feel less need to have weapons. Of all the comments we have had on this post, I value yours very highly and have directed people to read it. Thank you so much

Andi-Roo TheWorldForRealz said...

Let it be stated here and now that not ALL of America lives in fear of their neighbors. It's quite a hot topic of debate here. Some of us think the 2nd Amendment is being used in a flawed and ridiculous manner, and that the gun owners who flaunt this law don't really have a clue about any other laws; it's a matter of convenience to hang onto this one, but their lack of education on the other laws kind of negates their "superiority" on this particular matter. I've always wondered what gun owners are so dang afraid of. First they say neighbors... in which case, why don't they move to better neighborhoods? Then they say criminals... in which case, why don't they move to low-crime areas? They they say government... in which case I laugh and laugh because if our fabulous government decides it's time to invade, there is not enough legal OR illegal weaponry on the streets to stop that from happening. As Jenny points out, America kind of rules the planet. So good luck with that, gun owners. Mostly, though, the point of my comment is just that I don't want to be lumped in with those crazy Americans who love their guns. It would be tantamount to accusing you for having bad teeth since if you're a Brit. Not all of us have lost our minds; some of us just want the people with guns to go play with themselves elsewhere, far far away from the rest of us.

Jenny Twist said...

Hello, Andi-Roo.
What a pleasure it was reading your comment. I must confess I was beginning to envisage America as some kind of dystopia where gangs of crazed gunmen stalk the streets. You are such a refreshing change. I did know, really, that not all Americans are in love with guns. I know some who are not, but they are have not been reflected much in the responses to this blog. You'll notice that the anti-gun responses are mainly from British and Canadian people.
I still have all my own teeth (except one). I didn't know we had a reputation for bad teeth. Although I have noticed what beautiful teeth (rich?) Americans have. We, as a general rule, don't go in for expensive cosmetic dentistry. I am SO jealous.
But I digress. I like your idea of sending all the gun-crazed loonies elsewhere. But where are we going to put them? We don't have colonies any more.

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