When I began writing a blog, I was advised by my publisher, http://www.summertimepublishing.com to stick to one area. To become a pro. My realm of so-called expertise was to be expatriation – the good, the better and the best, as well as the occasional blip. As many people have learnt over the years, I don’t always take advice. And so, six years after starting this writing gig, I have covered many topics, often though with recurrent themes.
Guns have been an ongoing discussion – Get Your Glock Here (April 2012), Language and Guns (Jan 2013), Bang, Bang You’re Dead (Oct 2015), The American A & G Debate (Oct 2015) and today.
It’s been a dreadful year, and it’s only July. 2016 might well go down in the annals of US history as, in H.M. the Queen’s words, an annus horribilis. Guns, guns and more guns. Shootings on the streets, on college campuses, in night clubs, schools, shopping malls and private homes. Murder everywhere. All colours. All faiths. All people.
And yet there are still no adequate measures in place in America to control the purchase of guns and ammunition. If anything, the stridency of the pro-gun lobby becomes more vociferous. The President has been stymied at every turn. At every memorial service or funeral he attends, whether civilian, soldier, policeman or child, his anger, and I think his shame, is evident for all to see. Anger is easy to understand. And the shame is not his alone. It should be shared nationwide. By every American citizen, no matter colour, faith or political leaning.
There are federal gun laws dating back to 1934 to do with taxing manufacturers, or promising not to pass along guns to baddies, or over state lines, or increasing the minimum age for buying a handgun to 21. The Gun-Free School Zones Act in 1990 is self-explanatory – but as universities and colleges are called schools in America, I’m a bit hazy on the ins and outs of that. The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act required background checks “on most firearm purchasers, depending on seller and venue.” Why ‘most’? Why not ‘all’? Then in 2004 the law expired on the Federal Assault Weapons Ban – something which beggars belief.
In 2005 the poor old firearms manufacturers and licensed dealers were deemed not liable should a crime be committed with one of their products. That little piece of legislation was called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
But where, I ask you, are the safe guards for you and me? Particularly in states wherein ‘open carry laws’ prevail? Texas is one of them, and where from August 1st, 2016 it will be permissible to carry handguns on college campuses. Gun-free zones will be allowed, which I’m sure relieves many parents sending their children off to college. I just wonder how students will navigate the areas between those zones – the much larger areas where guns are permitted.
How can it be sensible to encourage young men and women, some at a volatile stage in their life anyway, to carry a weapon to class? There seems, sometimes, to be a disconnect between what we see on the screens of our computers and televisions to what actually happens when a gun is fired. People, invariably innocent, die or are horribly maimed.
We hear the cacophonous sounds from gun proponents that good people carrying guns can stop bad people from shooting at us. Bollocks! And, in slightly less colourful language, a growing number of police chiefs around the country are agreeing. David Brown, the Dallas Police Chief, said after the dreadful shooting of five police officers, “… it’s increasingly challenging when people have AR-15s slung over their shoulder and they’re in a crowd. We don’t know who the good guy is versus the bad guy when everyone starts shooting.”
Guns shops and shows are advertised in the daily newspapers, often offering free financing or free interest. I could go out today and purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P15 “Sport II” with an adjustable stock and A2 sights, a forward assist flash suppressor and a 30 round magazine for $699.97. Now call me naive, but what sort of sportsman needs a 30 round magazine to shoot a deer – one that has probably been enticed with feed. That, my friends, is not sport.
So many people who should not have guns, who have slipped through the very holey safety nets, have them. How can it possibly be alright, for example, for those with a record of domestic abuse to retain their firearm license? Yet another loophole in the gun laws.
I have not heard or read one single instance of those in favour of more stringent gun controls demanding the banning of all guns. No one is asking for a rewrite of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Just common sense regulations.
Maybe I did take heed of my publisher, after all. There is a theme, albeit a number of them. I do not though profess to be an expert on guns or the control of them, merely a concerned citizen appalled at the needless deaths of innocent men, women and children.