As has predictably happened, the entire debate about gun control has spiralled into the realm of farce and lies, with the Sandy Hook massacre now long forgotten. The issue has shifted away from the murder of innocent children and the saturation of American society and culture with guns and violence and now onto a pretentious ‘argument’ about the Second Amendment, with a wealth of seedy conspiracy theorists whispering loudly in the background.
I wasn’t around for the last serious debate about gun control – during Clinton’s presidency in the ’90s, and especially after Columbine – but I have my suspicions that back then a similar breakdown into pantomime also occurred, except at least then some kind of law was passed that strengthened the pro-sanity side. But now here we are in 2013, less a month after 20 children and 8 adults were slaughtered on a schoolday morning, and with over 700 more people killed in the few weeks since that atrocity, and we’ve already reached some kind of dead end over this issue. The pro-gun control side has quietened its arguments, the overall mainstream has taken a couple of steps back from being involved, but the most horrifying development is the rise on the anti-gun control side of a bewildering mass of libertarian conspiracists who would be justly and universally mocked without mercy were they not the bulk of those 65million Americans who are heavily armed.
I’m sure you can guess what particular event and people have calcified this degenerate turn of events. A couple of days ago the far-right neo-Nostradamus Alex Jones transformed Piers Morgan’s CNN show into a live-action version of those three-hour-long Illuminati YouTube videos that have nothing better to do that point out the love letters to Satan when reflecting dollar bills diagonally and other such pot-induced bullshit. For about 90 seconds Morgan made only the briefest of sounds to try and interrupt Jones’s ranting but that was all it took to send this wacko into a deafening verbal bludgeoning reminiscent of the type of fire-and-brimstone speeches that are so popular at mass rallies. Jones behaved less like someone with something valid to say and more like a teenager who felt like he had some dirt on the school principal and revelling in this supposedly explosive information, full of smartass asides and adopting, for some reason, a ‘British’ accent in a pathetic attempt to incite Morgan to get angry.
To most people regardless of political affiliation this travesty is extremely painful to watch. Piers Morgan is by no means a liberal or a progressive, but he does belong to a proud British tradition of rational discussion and debate (more on that in a moment). For now, most people would like to believe that Alex Jones does not represent either themselves or the politics they believe in, but the truth is that there is no distinction on the anti-gun control side between psychopathic wingnuts like Jones and the less shouty Internet revolutionaries who think that the deaths of 12,000 people a year from firearms is a ‘price worth paying’, though what you’re paying for is nothing. The only ‘difference’ between gun-fuckers is whether you defend murder calmly or whether you defend murder by shouting at the top of your lungs, it still doesn’t change the fact that you’re defending murder.
Do you really, honestly, believe that the American government gives a flying fuck about the Second Amendment, and that that this single sentence is the only thing stopping your country from becoming a copy of the dictatorships of the 20th century? Do you really think your puny little Glocks and semi-automatics would do anything against air attacks, armoured vehicles and drone strikes? They used tanks at Waco for fuck’s sake. You have NO protection against your government, any more than any other people under any other government in the world, and your stupid little Amendment which you’ve bloodily twisted into a justification for the highest firearm homicide rate on earth offers you absolutely no more rights than any of the other Amendments that your government has already violated. That you think the right to violence and murder is more effective in resisting and challenging the Establishment than freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right not to incriminate yourself in court, is just one of the very many indications
One would have thought the supreme arrogance of America to proclaim itself the greatest country in the world had taken a serious blow after eight years under the worst President in history, as well as having come under a process of humbler re-evaluation because of Obama. But the issue of gun control has unpleasantly and extraordinarily reawakened this jingoism and xenophobia, with Americans across all social and media spectrums all of a sudden taking an interest in other countries and how the violence that ‘engulfs’ these countries is solely and directly based on the strict regulations of private firearms.
My country in particular seems to have been singled out as more violent and crime-ridden than even America, and certainly the most dystopic out of all the developed countries. This complete lie, sickening and astonishing in the scale of its fabrication, is the very first time I have ever been offended on behalf of my country. Regular readers of my articles (if you exist) will have noticed that I’m almost savagely critical of my country, and in my opinions our failings far outweigh the strengths, not because those strengths are so little but because our failings are so great. But one of those strengths which I can unquestioningly be proud of and feel confident that the majority of Britons would agree is the British tradition of non-violence and militant but bloodless struggle.
Whatever you hear about crime in Britain is false. I have lived all over my country, from cities to backwaters, from the richest to the poorest parts, including where I live now, which is an area with some of the highest rates of unemployment, poverty, drug use and crime in the country. Yet I can confidently state that I have neverwitnessed crime on the levels the American media is suggesting. And the idea that crime was dramatically exacerbated by the tightening of gun laws in the late ’90s after the Dunblane massacre in 1996 is especially offensive. It suggests that British society regarded guns in a similar way to American society and that the all-but-banning of private firearms is the reason that Britain is now mired in anarchy that serves as a warning to America of what could happen. Of course violence, murder and gun crime exists in Britain, but in figures so small and static that not even the most hysterical members of the government see it as comparable to tens of thousands of deaths a year from firearms. Morons who ‘point out’ that Britain apparently has a higher rate of violent crime than South Africa or America fail to realise that every physical altercation is classed as ‘violent crime’, so we’re flattered you consider drunken brawls and a few black eyes as atrocious as shootings and stabbings, but I’m sure if you applied such a liberal classification process to your own country I doubt you’d still be so smugly satisfied.
You can dig out all the doctored and biased information you want to contradict me, you can use flimsy anecdotes from American relatives living in Britain, you can use the screeching headlines of our national press that is laughed off and disbelieved by everyone with any sense, but however desperate you hope my country to be as violent as Somalia or Sudan your wishful thinking will not work. Simple numbers show how warping reality fails: apparently there are 1.5million violent crimes in Britain a year, yet America has a prison population of more than 2.5million people, compared to 80,000 in Britain, and if you try and explain this figure by saying it’s made up mostly of innocent pot smokers and victims of the ‘three strikes’ prison sentences, just remember that we have unjustly convicted people in Britain too. You won’t win, so save your dignity and don’t bother trying.
When teenagers and other innocent bystanders are killed by guns, knives and whatever else, their families don’t howl for the death penalty to be reinstalled (an issue the rest of developed world is more advanced on than America) or for all people to arm themselves against potential attacks. Instead, they set up charities and organisations committed to education about the dangers of weapons and gangs and working to provide the impoverished victims of a seriously unequal society the opportunity to make something of themselves. What does America do when a particularly evil massacre occurs? Call for the weapons that committed the atrocity to proliferate even more amongst the population. America has more firearms that any other society on the planet, more even than there are American citizens, so shouldn’t your country be the safest in the world?
Here’s the mission statement of the Kiyan Prince Foundation, named after and set up by the family of 15-year-old Kiyan Prince who was stabbed to death outside his school in London in 2006 when standing up for a friend: “The KPF works with all children and young people regardless of age, race, disability, gender and sexual orientation to increase awareness, and, address the consequences of gun and knife crime through education, encouraging them to make informed choices and move forwards in a positive way. Our mission is to inspire young people to turn their back on the problem and become part of the solution.” Notably missing from this moving commitment is any demand for members of the public to be armed in response, because such a ludicrous thought doesn’t even enter our heads.
There has only ever been one example of the British population arming themselves on a mass scale: in 1803-4 Napoleon was putting in place a decisive invasion of conquest against Britain, and the population was given arms and ammunition by the government itself as a defensive measure, arming over a million people, relatively near the same proportion of gun owners in America today. But the invasion never came, Napoleon was beaten and destroyed by the armies on the fields of Europe, and the British people gave up their firearms, and we’ve never wanted them back since. More than 200 years later, there has never been another instance of Britons taking up arms against a potential foe. Those foes certainly exist, some of them in plain sight, but still we do not resort to violence and armed preparation; paradoxically, and something Americans can perhaps relate to, we believe the best defense is offense, that widespread social and political campaigning, grassroots and trade union organisation and the education of the working class in history, economics, politics, other countries and sociology is the key to resistance against a corrupt and authoritarian government. We do not see how shutting yourself in doors and putting guns and ammunition within easy reach does anything but foster and isolate your own paranoia and convinces you that you are helpless and weak unless you possess the power to kill someone.
I can’t speak on behalf of the other developed countries that have largely removed violence from their way of life, nor do I propose America should imitate Britain. I always praise America for its inspiring history of civil struggle, you’ve got your own experiences to draw upon. But one thing you are NOT correct about is the desperate way other countries have been lied about as an excuse to justify the killing of thousands of people every year, especially a country with as strong and deep connections to your own as Britain. So get rid of your hubris and xenophobia and the idea that being a true American means arrogant denigration of countries much safer and less violent than yours, and start bringing yourselves into the 21st century, for the sake of the 20 children murdered at Sandy Hook, the 700 people killed in the few weeks since, and the other 11,000 people who will not live to see the next year because their blood was needed to pay for the right to kill them in the first place.