United States

Dec 17, 2012

Gun control might work, but US needs to temper paranoia and rage

The school shootings in Connecticut have revived a stalled debate on gun control. But history is against any meaningful action to limit gun ownership.

Charles Richardson — Editor of The World is not Enough

Charles Richardson

Editor of The World is not Enough

“Hard cases make bad law”: emotionally wrenching events are not usually the best basis on which to make policy decisions, precisely because they engage our emotions rather than our rational faculties. But sometimes, particularly when a debate has stagnated, it can take something dramatic to enable any sort of action at all. So it is unavoidable that the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school has set off a debate on gun control in America and around the world.


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14 thoughts on “Gun control might work, but US needs to temper paranoia and rage

  1. Bill Hilliger

    The US need to temper paranoia and rage – not a chance – they have god, jesus, pastors, priests, bibles and the guns. Just to back that up, there is the American films that seem to always depict extreme gun violence to invoke right. Add to that real life issues that the American government and Americans seem to be disliked by most people on this planet, i.e. Middle East, South America, Vietnam, Americans are best left alone, this issue like the Columbine massacre before, it will fade away, there will be no change in gun control laws, or violence in movies and yes there will be more massacres. President Obama say’s there has been four times of gun massacres during his administration. I wouldn’t live in the world greatest democracy or the land of the free – rent free.

  2. Bill Hilliger

    Some at Fuxnews are advocating that teachers should be armed or armed security at every school. Don’t know why they don’t go the whole hog and insists that pupils be armed.

  3. paddy

    [I’m a moderate when it comes to gun control; indeed by Australian standards I count as pro-gun because I believe those who want to should be allowed to own handguns for self-defence.]
    Lulz Actually Charles, by Australian standards, I’d suggest you sound like a raving looney from the Shooter’s & Rooters party. Self-defence from whom?

  4. Malcolm Street

    On the thread for Guy’s article I’ve mentioned Switzerland (and Israel). In both cases the high gun ownership is *a responsibility of citizenship* and only in the context of a genuine “well ordered militia”, ie they are under military discipline, organization and training.

    There’s a big difference between regarding gun ownership as a responsibility and as a right. Not to mention that the military training in both countries would spot nutters a mile off and keep them away from weapons. Also to mention that the militias in these countries are to support the state, whereas in the US the most vociferous gun activists see themselves as in opposition to the state and hence most social structures.

    Paddy – +1. Allow hand guns in self defence = some nutter with some mates taking his piece out on the town to show off. A few drinks and watch out!

  5. David Allen

    I don’t see any hope.

    It is either,’an act of unspeakable evil’; the perpetrator acting as an agent of the Devil. Or, ‘God has taken them home’ [Obama], in which case the shooter was engaged in the Lord’s blessed work.

    Nothing to do with us then?

  6. John Bennetts

    I cannot understand how Bill can support personal handguns (read: “That is indeed a pistol in my pocket, and I am also happy to meet you”), let alone others’ support for military long arms and weapons with 30-shot magazines.

    One this issue, John Howard’s legislation was absolutely correct and, thanks to his personal self-belief and longevity in office, he was able to see it through. Australia’s gun control laws are unfortunately destined to be the exception, rather than the rule.

  7. zut alors

    Agree with Paddy and Malcolm Street re the author’s “handguns for self-defence” comment.

    Gun control is, in one respect, a secondary issue here. The lust for gun ownership by US citizens is at the root of the problem. What is happening to their collective logic that guns afford them safety when the comparative statistics show their country to be a human target gallery by international standards?

  8. John Walters

    Charles said “I’m a moderate when it comes to gun control; indeed by Australian standards I count as pro-gun because I believe those who want to should be allowed to own handguns for self-defence.”
    Charles you must first acknowledge that guns are totally useless unless you are prepared to use them. And guns are designed to have only ONE purpose – to kill. If you are not prepared to kill you might just as well wave a banana.
    So Charles, you are pro-gun, now answer me this. Who are you prepared to kill? And under what circumstances?

  9. Charles Richardson

    @Bill: Yes, depressing indeed. I suspect it will need a Republican president to one day take it on.

    @paddy: That illustrates my point about the difference between the debate here and in the US. In Australia you can say that the belief that self-defence is sometimes a legitimate reason to own a handgun puts you on the lunatic fringe; in America, the denial of that proposition would seem equally extreme. So don’t use our experience as a guide to what’s politically possible there.

    @zut: I think you’re right about the insularity – there’s a collective failure in America to look at what they might be able to learn from the experience of other countries, which shows itself in a lot of other things as well.

    @John: Well, I hadn’t intended this to be a discussion of my views, but since you ask, no, I have no desire to own a gun and I don’t think most sensible people would. But if someone feels particularly threatened and is a law-abiding citizen and passes all the appropriate background checks, I don’t think that’s any less legitimate than owning a gun to shoot clay pigeons. I don’t think a totally disarmed citizenry is any healthier than the horribly overarmed citizenry in the US.

  10. Joel

    Absolutely agree with Malcolm on the difference between a “well regulated militia” and the madness of America’s guns-and-violence culture. I have the privilege of living in a country and a society in which I can walk down the street without the fear that I may need a gun at any point – and a good part of the reason I get to enjoy that privilege is that the more paranoid people walking down that same street are also not packing heat.

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