Posted by: Martin Scherer | 30/04/2011

Gun Control

Last week some cyber floating jerk poured vitriol over this blog for talking gun control. He was wrong. I never mentioned it, but I am now and I always knew I would, someday. Last season, our UK visitors were stunned to see Wal-Mart sold guns. OK, I go shopping in Wal-Mart, I admit it.    

I should be pleased this blog trebled last week, but I’m sad. It trebled because a black American kid shot two white English tourists. Now I know what it feels like to be a gutter press hack. He needs a beer to wash away the taste of verbal vomit.

I don’t want an entrenched verbal battle hurling insults. How do we talk about guns without some jerk opening his mouth like a machine gun?

Being raised a middle-class thinking 1960’s peacenik Brit, I ‘naturally’ think guns are wrong. Wrong in the hands of ordinary people, hunters, criminals, policemen, and even a soldier’s hands. But, like so many people, I’m fascinated to hold and fire one and eat the meat of the deer I killed. And I know if an enemy soldier comes running over that hill, I won’t offer him a flower, I’ll shoot.

That is the difference. You never know who is carrying a gun in the US. Look at the number of ordinary people who walk into school or work and pull out a gun on the rampage. I see a pleasant middle class lady. How do I know if she has just been cruelly ditched by her man, now pulls out a gun to kill every male bastard around and my head might be first? I’d better carry a gun.

Twenty years ago, I was driving the twelve lane highway past Huston, Texas, with my sister nagging in my ear that I was driving like a Mexican. No insult – I have also been told I drive like a Londoner, Parisiene, and an Italian. My crime in Huston? Changing lanes. As she nagged, I was cut up by some jerk, and hot on his heals was a real American toy. A pick-up truck. Curious to see what these guys were up to I followed in their wake. At the next traffic lights, the guy from the pick-up got out and shot the guy who cut him up.

If I had a gun, what would I do with it? Shoot the bastard before he shot me? After every shooting there is some jerk on a chat show saying, “Would never have happened, if I was there. I would have shot him first.” To think anyone behaves like the movies! The first reaction is rigid shock, run, duck, or scream in agony at the gunshot that happened so quick no-one had time to think. From that Huston shooting, I put my foot down to drive away, fast. If the right to bear arms is so important to so many Americans, why didn’t someone in the crowd shoot the gunman?

The reality is those who legally carry guns are those who want demonstrate their right to bear arms. Thou shalt not kill, is so deeply ingrained, only those out of their heads pull the trigger. That is why they are criminals or nutters – because they did. No, I am not referring to a former Vice President, but guns can go off, in your foot, your friend, or in the hands of your kid who finds it in the handbag or closet.

Will banning guns make the US a safer place? Please no knee jerks. No Duh!s. Lets think about it.

There are almost as many knife killings in British cities as there are gun killings in American cities. Ask those who carry knives and they will tell you the same as any American. For self-protection. If America bans guns, will fearful people turn to knives? Clubs, bricks, fists?  The big news in our town one year was a one guy who hit another because he severely provoked him. One hit. The offender died. The offfedned guy then spent four years in prison for manslaughter. I hope I have the courage to offer the flower.

That Huston event was the only road rage I’ve seen in ten years driving in the US. Last week I drove the 125 miles from Cardiff to London. In that time, I watched four incidents of road rage. Some driver comes up behind someone who is sitting in the fast lane at the legal limit. Why not? He is doing the legal limit. If he has to, so does everyone else. Headlights flash, one sits on the tail of the other. At 70 mph! Until the chaser gates fed up and passes on the inside lane – Illegal in the UK.  Now the slow driver discovers his car can do 90 and so follows flashing lights, giving the hand signals – FKU, wanker, arsehole…Until the guy now in front slams on his anchors and everyone one on the motorway breaks.

In the States, drivers drop back to let the prat through. Why? Because the prat might be carrying a gun and he might shoot you at the next traffic lights? 

Rage is not limited to the road in the UK. Stop to ask someone in the UK and you are likely to get that look, “What’s it got to do with you!”  Unless you have an American accent, in which case he will want to ask if you knew Michael Jackson. Serious, I have considered taking American elocution so I can walk around the UK speaking like an American. We do all know about Americans don’t we – shock and awe. We’ve seen the films, where the Texan Ranger rides into a northern town and all the criminals loose courage.

Think about it, when you call for gun control. Is that the society you want?  Or is there, perversely, a benefit for a society that permits guns?  Hold on, I’ve not finished

I feel safer in Florida than I do in the UK. I forget to lock house doors. I’ve even left the garage door open all day and returned to find nothing gone. My US car is open but I leave valuables in it, out of sight. I’d never do any of that in the UK. British gardens are surrounded by high fences. Every commercial building has door entry and CCTV. Our streets are littered with smashed glass from car doors and CCTV, which all seem curiously to be looking in a different direction when a crime is committed. Young people dominate cities in the middle of the night, creating disturbance, vomiting, fighting. Don’t do that in Florida. You might get shot. That is why those two tourists died and some stupid kid is going to die. If that had occurred in the UK, knives would have been pulled and the only difference is, one might have got away.

Don’t believe it’s got anything to do with the area. I know several white middle class Americans, living in good areas, who have long told me, “If some marauding nut comes banging on their door, I’ll shoot first and ask questions later.” Maybe that is why Americans don’t have tall fences around their gardens. Sorry ‘yards’ as Americans call the irrigated, manicured land around their houses.

I hate guns. I hate my fascination with guns. Where did I get it from? My father was a Quaker, my parents were socialists who despised the sending of grunts to war. In WW2, my dad could have been a fighter pilot but he chose to be a nurse. Nurses risked their lives getting to fighting men injured in the midst of battle. He taught me to hate guns.

When I was four, on ship from Africa back to England, my parents entered me, their darling son, into the ship fancy dress competition. I hated the stupid costume, the make-up plastered on my face. But I won, and I knew exactly what I wanted. I walked past the ship’s Captain holding the certificate, up to the prize table, picked up a double holster with two gleaming silver cap guns, and walked straight back. Everyone laughed and made me blush. What a darling little boy! Where did I learnt that?

Men will fight. Women will fight to feed and protect their babies, and no woman will choose a man who does not get up and fight for her first. It’s the way we are built. These days a man does not need the biggest chest to get the best woman. He just needs enough cash to be powerful, and if necessary to buy a gun.

Guns are the great leveller. The weedy nerd feels just as powerful packing a gun as any muscle bound hulk.

We are born to compete, but do we need guns to compete? As a naive teenager from the sticks visiting a friend in London at the Notting Hill Carnival, I got caught up in a street brawl, surrounded by cheering audience. A great opportunity for some guys to prove to the girls, how brave and strong they are. As some guy set to knock my teeth out, my mate also laid into me, saying to my assailant in a cockney accent “I got this one mate,” Then he snuck me out of the brawl. I had the muscle, but he had the brain. I learnt. I’ve watched many Americans use charm and humour to disarm someone offended before it gets out of control. Just in case he’s got a gun?

Where do such people learn charm in place of violence? In our schools? Do they teach such social skills in schools? Too many London school kids carry knives because they fear bullying in school. Bullying is rife. Too many American kids have taken daddy’s gun to school. We don’t often hear about it, because head teachers don’t want it known. Instead, they punish the weapon carrier. They don’t ask why that kid was so frightened he felt the need to carry a knife, or gun. Yet bullying is so easy to deal with. Talk. It takes time to talk.

Society is like a pond. Throw a stone in and you may cause ripples that turn into waves you don’t want. Prohibition does not lead to safety. Ban alcohol and someone will distil dirty alcohol. Ban drugs and someone will supply dirty drugs. The majority of Americans may assert the right to bear arms, they may have one collecting dust in a drawer somewhere, but few carry guns. Like the umbrella of awesome defences forces, most Americans live with the knowledge – don’t start a row, the other guy might pull a gun. Ban guns and it may be a knife.

The uncomfortable truth? Guns don’t jump out of closets or handbags, it takes someone to pull the trigger. Nothing is solved by prohibiting it. It merely drives it underground and fills our prisons.  

Boys will be boys, until we mature. It’s the way we are built, the adrenaline rises. We are reinforced for it throughout our lives. We cannot be seen to be cowards, not in front of the girls or the family. Unless someone teaches us a different way. What if someone had taught that black kid to respond as one of his neighbours, who reported on TV, said “I saw them. They banged on my car. They were drunks. I let them walk on.” What a pity he had no cannabis. They would have had a party.

Love you man.

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Responses

  1. […] post: http://boysgonewild.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/snow-day/ For more on this topic you can read: https://onthissideofthepond.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/gun-control/ On the same topic: […]

  2. You are “spot on” about the truth, sad or not. It is also a subject that (I believe–based on careful and long observation) sharply divides the political left from the political right.

    You will find that most American librerals will use phrases like,
    “He was killed by a gun,” or “He was killed by an SUV.”

    An American conservative will instead use a slightly different phrase, such as: “The killer used a 9 mm Smith and Wesson,” or “The driver of the SUV was drunk and lost control of her car.”

    The most striking difference is that the liberals tend to blame the inanimate object, whereas the conservatives tend to place responsibility on the individual controlling the device.

    Personal responsibility. It’s so much easier to assign blame than to accept personal responsibility. It’s even easier when you blame an inanimate object…or even a lower animal such as a dog that it was your responsibility to control.

    Personal responsibility is behind the majority of problems in our modern world…and of the ancient world, too, for that matter. That is: Personal resonsibility and the refusal of some to accept it.

    Theodore Roosevelt, one of our presidents, said, “Walk softly but carry a big stick.” Ronald Reagan, another of our presidents said, “Trust, but verify.” (The latter was dealing with sensitive Soviet-American negotiations, but the sentiment was the same.)

    I say, “Treat others as you want them to treat you…but be prepared.”

    Sometimes being prepared can be in the form of charm and skilled conversation. Sometimes it is in the form of Colt .45.

    Patrick,
    in Sarasota


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