I flicked on the telly box to BBC News this morning and…
Well they had guests. They had a posh young man from Wiltshire who had had a shotgun certificate since he was 11 and some dismal old trout from wherever wearing what looked like the torso of the Honey Monster in waistcoat fashion. She apparently founded a charidee or some form of theatrical gayness called “Mothers Against Guns” – at this point I wished I’d kept the puke bag from THY. So the posh fella explains that he needed his shotgun certificate – note not a license – as a minor all this enabled him to do was shoot clay pigeons under the supervision of an adult with a full license. In order to get even this he had been interviewed at length by a police firearms officer and his house had been inspected to ensure the gun or guns would be secure. This lad was a competition clay pigeon shooter. He was not the sort to walk into an HSBC and demand cash with menaces (from my experience of HSBC they are more likely to do that to the customer which is essentially why I don’t bank with them no more). But still this woman harrumphed and moaned during this fella’s explanation of the hoops he and his parents had to jump through so he could pursue a hobby he was clearly good at and which harmed nothing other than clay pigeons. Shooting clays is quite simply about as innocuous a sport as you can imagine but by this woman’s twisted logic because it involved a gun it had to be definitively evil.
I couldn’t watch much more but I think I saw enough. Her obvious discomfort was enough. I assume she founded this charidee because she had a child (probably a son) shot to death. I would bet my wife’s breasts that said gun was not legally owned. I would bet my own kidneys that tragic though her loss may have been (it may not have been exactly tragic – when I lived in Manchester a woman came on the local telly holding a candlelight vigil against guns in much the same way – her son had been shot dead in a a pub in South East Manchester – but you know how? He was a teenager and took a contract to off a drug dealer who managed to be swifter on the draw so my nano-scale violin plays the lament). It in no way involved folks in Wiltshire shooting inanimate objects for fun. Or indeed any of the totally justifiable reasons why one might want to own a gun. My brother has taken up archery. He does it with a mate of ours who is actually a copper. My Bro got into it after a trip to Vegas where he shot an AK-47 and loved it. Obviously back in England this was not an option so he took-up the bow. Now as our Frogulent pals discovered at Crecy and Agincourt a bow is also an extremely lethal weapon. But then so is everything if used right. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not defending the posh fella from Wiltshire having a shotgun purely because his personal use is clay pigeon shooting. Oh, no. I am perfectly happy with guns being used to cause lethal harm in the right circumstances. I only mention this chap because he was on TV and because his gun use was so impossible to “unjustify” that the only way to claim it was unjustifiable was to argue that guns in and of themselves are immoral and I will go to a pool party courtesy of Michael Barrymore before I will accept that there is any moral issue with shooting clay pigeons or gun ownership in general or indeed the general idea that inanimate objects can be discussed in moral terms at all. Obviously there are moral issues related to how guns are used but… Well do I need to draw a diagram? Lets not talk of guns, let’s talk of vans. When I last moved house my brother hired a van (it wasn’t a Transit but something of that ilk). This enabled a sofa (and much else) to be moved from Gateshead to Cheshire. You got a problem with that? Thought not. Ah, but what about vans in the service of evil? If you believe the media then loads, van-loads, of girls are being trafficked into my country as sex-slaves or something. Possibly dusting Lord Mandelson’s wainscotting – God knows! But when I was 17 I had an (un)fortunate encounter with a Transit – I use the brackets because whilst I was extremely unlucky to be hit given that I was hit I was extremely lucky to gt off with cuts and bruises – it was matter of cms and milliseconds between feeling pretty rough for a week and feeling nothing ever again. It was doing 60 through the fog and came off worse than I did (stern stuff us Geordies). My arm did though ache for weeks after. That was my left arm and my elbow took the wing-mirror off, “ouch!”. I also apparently left a Nick-shaped dent in the side of it in classic “spread-eagle” fashion. So let’s ban vans. Lets. Except this incident saw an NHS ambulance (which is essentially a van with flashing lights) pick me up and take me to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital A&E where the doctors and nurses glued (literally) me back together and sent me home. I had rather long hair back then so you should have seen the bottom of the shower the morning after – it looked like a field dressing station at Stalingrad. So you see for every problem a van creates, a van solves.
But if you think about it… The real problem here was the road and me being a bit late already and hurrying and it being very foggy. The problem was not the van. It was how straight that newly built bypass was which at the best of times made judgement of distance tricky and with a heavy fog up from the Tyne Valley impossible for both me and the driver. The devil was as ever in the details. As with shotguns. The BBC flagged-up the number of 11 year olds with shotgun certificates. This was apparently a bad thing. The real question here of course is how many pre-teen farmer’s sons and daughters actually murder people with them and this was not mentioned. Let’s just ban guns entirely (except for the cops obviously) because banning decent law-abiding citizens from owning lethal weapons will reduce the murder rate of course. What profound silliness!
The simple truth is that the sort of person who wants a legally owned weapon is not the problem. The criminal who doesn’t (by definition) give a monkey’s about the law as to owning a gun or pretty much anything else is the problem. Further restricting the generally law-abiding from legal gun ownership essentially prevents people from doing what they wouldn’t anyway.
I know it’s trite but there is truth in the NRA slogan, “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. And also their other slogan, “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns” rings similarly true. But then is that not the bansturbatory cycle? More gun regulation will inevitably lead to more shootings by criminals which will be spun as justification for even more regulation which completely misses the point that obviously the sort of people who cause problems with guns are also criminals who pretty much by definition don’t give a toss about the law anyway.
The same with vans I guess.
Or indeed anything.
I have never even touched a “live” firearm, never really had the chance. Does that make me ultra-moral by that lady’s obscure calculus? It probably does by her deranged reckoning because guns have to be intrinsically evil in her world. That is a failure of imagination. I could, but probably will not, do quite appalling things to you with a stick. Or a rock, or indeed anything the cave-personage Ugg could bring to hand. Essentially the intent is always the issue. Not the article. To believe so is to be mad. My wife has just driven off to go to the supermarket and meet her parent’s new dog. That is a ton of steel which could easily kill a small child. That ought to be banned. As should the dog which could also kill a small child. The fact my wife is a very safe driver and her parents are very good dog owners is not something that occurs to the bansturbators. Indeed if my brother had an AK-47 would I be scared? No. I have known him since the mid-70s (as long as anyone) and if he did have such a shooter I’d be like, “Can I have a go?”. Just for the hell of it. Not to kill anyone because quite frankly I simply don’t desire to kill anyone. Oh, George Monbiot is annoying but do I really want to empty a clip of 7.62 into his bladder? Probably not. Though I would insist on using things from my tool-box on his pal Jonathan. But then again that is the point. My tool box with which I fix computers and stuff contains vastly more vile (when connected to this brain that has read some awful stuff) possibilities than a mere shooting which is sort of clean in a way. Well cleaner than removing a rectum with a claw hammer.
Or to put it another way… Why should a 37 year old man (that’s me) not be allowed to carry despite in all those years never being even cautioned by the rozzers and that by some alchemical process improves public safety? Why? I’ll tell you why. Because the “do-gooders” think, they have it in their DNA, that if something is against the law their work is done because obviously making something against the law solves the problem by which I mean as far as they are concerned and they can then wash their hands of it. They think that if guns are illegal shootings will also be and essentially that by making guns against the law they feel their work is indeed done. Because making a bad thing against the law works right? Well, yeah, except it doesn’t with respect to criminals does it? It doesn’t because… Do I need to explain again?
And they clearly never hung in the gaffs I have. And I have lived in some rum cribs in my time. Meanwood Road in Leeds springs to mind.