Opinions, statistics, and rudeness
by Matt Coot
After publishing my previous article ‘The Amendment Issue: How do you stop shootings?‘, I posted links on my private and public Facebook accounts. My public Facebook Page, Matt Coot, is there to promote my work as a political blogger. Any article that I write on here that has anything to do with politics is shared there. I enjoy the healthy debate that this sometimes encourages. Last night, I decided to ‘boost’ the post containing the link to the article. I did this on a whim, but I included it to be promoted across the UK, but also in Washington DC and New York City. I was intrigued as to what Americans would think of my opinions and I thought I might get one or two comments.
Today, I have been inundated with comments and messages from various people across the United States of America. Most of the messages are from those who own guns and believe strongly in their second amendment rights. This is good, because you cannot have a healthy debate without opinions from both sides. I read each comment and message, and I will continue to do so. I wanted to write a reply to each comment to open up a dialogue, but I simply do not have the time to do that due to the volume of messages and comments that there are, and the time that each debate would take.
Also, I am currently suffering and recovering from a major mental health crisis, and I have been absent from my job, because of this, for many weeks. I have also not been able to leave the house in a while. If I obsess about a topic for too long, then I will spiral out of control and the crisis will get worse. So, instead, I am going to write this one response to the comments that have been made. I hope that, one day, I can embark upon a debate with those with opposing views. Just, not today.
Many people tried to argue that my hypothetical arguments were silly and a ridiculous comparison. Some people were mocking the fact that I didn’t suggest banning other items that have been used to commit crimes. I wanted to explore this a little bit.
What is the purpose of a car and other vehicles?
What is the purpose of a computer?
The creation and sharing of information.
What is the purpose of a mobile phone?
What is the purpose of fertiliser?
To maintain soil fertility, which will grow nutritious and healthy crops.
What is the purpose of a pressure cooker?
To cook food.
What is the purpose of knifes, forks, spoons, and other cooking implements?
To handle and prepare food.
What is the purpose of martial arts?
To develop and improve physically, mentally, and spiritually. A true martial artist avoids unnecessary conflicts. A true martial artist does not take combat lightly.
What is the purpose of a gun?
Why did my original article not promote the banning of vehicles, computers, mobile phones, fertilisers, pressure cookers, cutlery, cooking implements, and martial arts?
These objects are not designed to kill and are not designed to be weapons. I do understand that these are things that can be misused in the wrong hands, and yes many of them can be used to kill, but only in the wrong hands.
Guns are designed to kill. This is a simple comparison and you can simply tell the difference between what is being argued here. Guns are weapons with the purpose to kill. Everything else listed here, that was thrown back at me during this debate, are not designed to kill.
The purpose of a gun is to kill.
When people argue that the suggestion to ban guns is ludicrous and we need to just stop the people who use the guns in these illegal ways, it really does infuriate me because – and I’m going to say this again – the purpose of a gun is to kill. Those using guns to kill people are actually using guns for the purpose that they were designed. I’m not saying they are right to use them this way, nor am I in any way promoting the use of guns. However, if the purpose of a gun is to kill, and these people use them to kill… then they’re using the gun in the way that it is supposed to be used.
I do agree that the care of those with mental health issues needs improving all over the world. I have written articles about this and will continue to do so. However, this will not stop the 64% of homicides that use firearms. This will not stop the mass shootings (of which there have been 90 between 1966 and 2012, the most of any country). The only thing that will stop, or at least lower, the amount of shootings is to remove guns from the equation. If guns are not able to be bought, if guns are prohibited apart from for very stringent reasons with very strict rules, then the shootings will lessen. How do I know this? Statistics and facts from other countries who have done this, including the UK.
Been there, done that…
As I mentioned in the previous article about gun control, the second amendment of the United States of America’s constitution, as well as the other amendments within the Bill of Rights, was based upon English common law, specifically that of the English Bill of Rights. In 1996, the UK experienced the country’s worst mass shooting. In 1997, the country’s government (before and after the election) passed two laws that banned guns. In actual fact, not all guns are banned but we do have very stringent rules about who can own guns, what guns they can use, and for what purpose. We have very strict controls on guns, and because of that, we have one of the lowest rates of homicides caused by firearms.
But… wait a minute… does that mean that we overwrote a right that was enshrined in our Bill of Rights? Yes, we did, because times change and so must we. The English Bill of Rights was written in 1689. Three hundred and eight years later, we decided that the law needed to change because five year olds were murdered by a madman carrying legally owned guns. We decided that the law was outdated. So we did something, as a democracy, we did something to change it. Petitions were created and given to the politicians in charge. Our government proposed new laws, and parliament voted upon them and passed the new laws to protect our citizens. We realised that if we didn’t want another mass shooting like Dunblane to happen again, then we had to get rid of the thing that made it so easy: the legal access to handguns.
The United States of America is still a very young nation. It was born two hundred and twenty eight years ago. I’ve always been taught that it is wise to listen to one’s elders about their experiences. In doing so, we can learn how to improve our own lives and not repeat mistakes. Instead of being a stroppy teenager refusing to listen to those with experience, why not try to see that other countries have been where you are and we know the way out.
UK Firearm Policy
Since 1997, handguns have been outright banned to the public in the UK, and is rigorously controlled within the military and law enforcement agencies. However, the public may own sporting rifles and shotguns, but these are subject to very strict licensing.
All firearms in the United Kingdom must be licensed on a five year firearm certificate (FAC) or shotgun certificate (SGC). These are administered by the police force in the area where the applicant resides. These licenses are very strict. When applying, justification must be provided to the police for each firearm. The certificate also sets out the maximum ammunition the person can possess at any one time. This is used to record ammunition purchases.
The stages of getting a certificate take the following path:
- Positive verification of identity,
- Two referees of good character. Need to have known the applicant for at least two years. They too may be interviewed/investigated as part of the certification,
- Approval of the application by the applicant’s own GP (family doctor),
- An inspection of where the firearms will be kept, along with an interview by a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO),
- Special Branch then carry out a thorough background check on behalf of the firearms licensing department,
- Only then, only when all these steps have been completed, will a licence be given,
- It must be renewed every 5 years.
This is a well regulated method of controlling firearms and is responsible for the UK having one of the lowest firearm homicide rates in the world.
Wounded Knee Creek
There was a comment using an event in history as a reason as to why gun control will not happen. On 29th December 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek, a massacre happened on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. By the end of the shooting, over one hundred and fifty people of the Lakota reservation were killed. Apparently this started when the US Army tried to remove weapons from the Native Americans. The person using this event in their comment tried to argue that this would repeat if guns were banned. I don’t think this is what this event shows, but rather that arming more people leads to more deaths.
However, let’s consider what I argued in my previous article. I believe my first suggestion for the President of the United States of America was to issue an Executive Order for an amnesty of firearms to take place.
If there is a series of amnesty events leading up to an out-right ban, then this will lower the risk of events like the Wounded Knee Massacre ever being repeated. If there ever is a strict control over firearms in the United States, it would have to be done slowly and carefully, so as to limit risk and to make sure that everyone understands why it is happening. It would be an unprecedented situation that would have to have very careful planning. But, this is not a reason for it not to happen. Saving lives must be of the utmost importance above anything else.
You’ll wish you had guns when the government takes away your rights!
One argument that kept being used, and one that I have heard before, is that when my government takes away my rights then I will want a gun. This is ridiculous.
The government of the UK has tried to take away rights before. There have been many laws proposed that would limit our rights. Did this country rise up with weapons and overthrow the government? No, we took non-violent means to protest the proposed laws, and our democratically elected representatives voted against the bills that were proposed.
You see, there are so many ways to fight for what you believe in, without using violence. Violence only ever brings more violence. Arguing that you need guns to protect you from the government is ridiculous.
A selection of famous names who have used guns against the government of the United States of America are listed below:
John Wilkes Booth
Charles J. Guiteau
Lee Harvey Oswald
John Flammang Schrank
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme
Sara Jane Moore
Raymond Lee Harvey
John Hinckley Jr.
Ronald Gene Barbour
Francisco Martin Duran
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez
Jared Lee Loughner
What do these people have in common? They all shot (or shot at, or planned to shoot) either presidents or congressmen/women. They were all assassins, or would be assassins.
Using guns as weapons against governments is known as terrorism and/or treason.
What about my right for a militia?
The second amendment to the constitution of the United States of America protects the right of the people to have “a well regulated Militia” for the “security of a free State”.
What is a militia?
From the Oxford Dictionary:
A military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.‘creating a militia was no answer to the army’s manpower problem’[mass noun] ‘small detachments of militia’
A military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities in opposition to a regular army.
(in the US) all able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service.
Late 16th century: from Latin, literally ‘military service’, from miles, milit- ‘soldier’.
So, the origin of the word ‘militia’ means ‘military service’. It comes from the word for ‘soldier’. So could the militia in this second amendment refer to the regular army? Could it refer to those in the general population who supplement a regular army in emergencies? Yes, it could.
What about that phrase “well regulated”? The word ‘regulated’ means that it is controlled. What other words could we use for ‘well’?
From the Oxford Dictionary Thesaurus:SYNONYMS
carefully, closely, attentively, rigorously, in depth, exhaustively, from top to bottom, minutely, in detail, meticulously, scrupulously, assiduously, conscientiously, painstakingly, methodically, completely, comprehensively, fully, to the fullest extent, intensively, extensively
So this militia needs to be carefully controlled. Meticulously controlled. Conscientiously controlled.
The second amendment says within it that there needs to be a careful control of the militia. This militia is “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”. So let me ask, does the following sound like this militia is well-regulated?
- 31% of the world’s mass shooters are in the United States of America;
- Gun homicide rates are 25.2 times higher in the US than in other high-income countries;
- 64% of homicides in the US are firearm related;
- Over 21,000 suicides are committed by guns in the US;
- The ages of mass shooters range from 11 years old to 66 years old. Yes, 11 years old. Andrew Douglas Golden ambushed teachers and students outside Westside Middle School in Arkansas in 1998;
- Attacks in the US are becoming deadlier with statistics showing a rise in victims in mass shootings across time from 1998 to 2017;
Please, feel free to give me statistics and facts to show me that guns are well regulated. Please prove to me that guns have positive results. So far, all I can see is the horrific results of these tools with the purpose to kill.
Keep your UK opinions in the UK!
As for those who believe that those living in the UK should stick to only have opinions about the UK, I say this: I am a citizen of this world, not just this country. I have opinions about what happens to other human beings on this planet (and, of course, those orbiting the planet too – can’t forget those lovely people in the ISS!). I care and I have opinions. I will never stop giving my opinion because I enjoy my freedom of speech. My freedom of speech has never killed anyone, therefore I will remain proud of this freedom and I will keep using it.
May I also point out, that for as long as the President of the United States of America comments upon UK politics and events via his Twitter account, I will continue to talk about United States’ politics and events.
All the other comments I received were welcome to me, I enjoyed reading people’s opinions and well argued comments. What I cannot stand at all is someone basically telling me to shut up because of where I am located in the world. I also find rudeness of being called an “unrealistic idiot” uncalled for. If you don’t have anything of substance to add to a debate, do not resort to insults.
Telling me to shut up will not stop me. It won’t happen. Argue with me, debate with me, but never tell me to stop sharing my opinions.