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Protection?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on September 25, 2012 in News & Opinion |

The first comment that I read on Twitter after the Aurora shooting in the States which really made me think about controls and regulations came from Michelle Malkin. As someone suggested, and not for the first time, that there should be more gun controls she wrote Ugh.

This one word, written clearly without any thought whatsoever but straight from the heart, made me realise that gun controls in the States are never going to change, that the feelings, whether carefully thought through or just ingrained, are too strong one way or the other. There will always be arguments for and against, and neither side in the ‘debate’ will ever be capable of bringing anything new into the public arena.

For some people, gun control consists solely of having the safety on. It makes little difference who owns a gun, or any form of weapon, so long as they have passed through the waiting period or some form of scrutiny to ensure that they are adult and capable. Every single person who legally owns a gun must have gone through the checks, must have been approved by someone who, we hope, is in a position to make a fair and balanced decision based on the facts they have been presented with.

For other people, the main reason to own a gun or any form of weapon is as protection. Protection against what? Protection against all those other people who own guns.

Logically we can see, if no one owned a gun there would be no need for anyone else to own one but, for that, we are far too late. It is a Right, we are told, to own a gun as a means of protection. It is not, however, a Right to shoot other people.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Another standard statement and, as we know, quite true. But the guns give those people the means to kill others. But, some say, if we didn’t have guns people would find other means of killing. Also true, but in a very limited fashion. If we didn’t have guns, I suspect, there would be far less killing. There would be far fewer people turning up at their workplace, at the workplace of the ex-wife, of their ex-colleagues, in a store or gas station and shooting at random. There would be far fewer people coming to school and shooting children.

I mentioned, the other day, how many people were killed by guns in the States, in Iraq and in Afghanistan in 2010. There is, of course, a difference between a war zone and the States where, as far as I know, there is no war currently being waged. In a war zone we expect soldiers and, to a certain extent, civilians to be killed. It is part and parcel of war, whether we wish it to be or not. People are sent there to kill and, as a result, people are killed. There is no such thing as a peaceful war, no such thing as a peaceful revolution.

I have no problem with people owning guns. My preference, however, is for those who own guns to be involved in sport shooting – the killing of animals for sport rather than in order to live is another matter entirely – to be practising their skills and entering competitions one against the other. I also have few problems with ordinary people owning guns, providing they have been properly trained, providing it can be shown that they are stable in both mind and body. But, for me, the idea of people being allowed to carry guns around, concealed or otherwise, during their normal working day, is a bad thing. Why do I need a gun when I am going to work, or taking the children out to a play park? Why do I need a gun when I am just going to the store or to fill up on gas? Is the situation in the States so bad, so dangerous, that I need a gun with me no matter what I am doing? Is the States, no matter where you happen to be, so lawless, so devoid of social standards that I can expect to be attacked on every street corner at any time of the day or night?

Of the 8775 people killed in the States by guns in 2010, how many were killed by accident? How many died because a weapon went off accidentally, or because a child was playing with their parents’ unsecured weapon? How many people died because of a lack of forethought by someone else?

Gun control, as far as I am concerned, should be coupled with certain standards. These standards include proper training in the handling of weapons. They include the clear knowledge of how a gun should be secured, where it should be kept. Gun owners should be required to prove that they have their weapons secured at all times when not in use. The checks which are made before a person may purchase a weapon should be extended to include the time after purchase; is that person still fit to own a gun? Have they taken part in regular training? Are they a regular member of a gun club?

Of course people are going to slip through the net. There will always be people who are totally unsuited to own weapons; people who are faced with a situation which they cannot control which they believe to be life-threatening; people who simply snap and see no other way out but to take their own lives. Sadly, also people who see no other way out but to take the lives of those around them, their family and friends. There will always be people who feel that they have been so hard done by, during a divorce or child custody battle, that they need revenge. Their access to weapons should be automatically limited.

Weapons in the house where young children live? Also, for me, a no go situation.

At the moment, many will have read about the aftermath of the Aurora shootings in the press over the last few days, no one wishes to address those who are really to blame. The cinema owner is being brought before the courts for not providing enough security for his customers. Is that right? Is society in the States so uncivilised now that we need checks and controls at each and every venue we enter? Isn’t it safe to go out to the cinema, to shop in WalMart any more? Is our life in the States now so dangerous?

The answer, sadly, is yes, it is now so dangerous. The present laws allow people to carry concealed weapons – in some states – wherever they go. Out to a fast food restaurant, pack a few guns in your pocket. Picking up the kids from school, pack a few guns in the car. A social evening with friends and family in the cinema, bring the guns, they’ll enjoy it too.

Gun control is not just about the weapons. It is not just about the people who own them. It is about the standards in a civilised society, about the way we react to other people, about our view of who and what other people are and what they do. It is also about friendship, about trust and personal security.

That last, personal security, means not going into certain areas of the city at night, the dangerous areas, the gang territories. Did our forefathers envision a land of the free where we are too scared to go out at night? Is the American Dream really about more than Mom’s Apple Pie, more than happiness? Or is it really, as I see it, the dream of being able to live in a society where everyone can live in peace and harmony together, without fear?

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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