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A Modest Proposal for Gun Control That Would Never Get Up

The latest gun massacre in the United States of America, this time in Aurora, Colorado has again sparked debate, within America and across the world about the sense or nonsense of the 2nd amendment right to bear arms. Twelve people were shot dead at a movie screening of The Dark Knight Rises and 58 further were injured by the gunman who burst into the cinema, let off teargas and began indiscriminately shooting at movie-goers.

The scenes of pandemonium that followed, including leaked mobile phone footage and the last tweets of some in the crowd will stick with people for a long time and must translate into at least some change in the gun laws.

Every year there are roughly 10,000 gun related murders in the United States of America out of a total number of murders close to 13,000 per annum. This is a truly horrifying statistic.

From the outset it is extremely important t0 acknowledge that no one “solution” to this incredibly difficult and fraught issue in US politics. Even a complete ban will not result in a massive reduction in gun-related deaths. People will do all they can to try and get their hands on firearms if they really want them and they will always exist in society.

There are two major problems that exist when thinking of gun crime. The first is that the right to bear arms applies to just about any weapon out there, in just about every state in the country. This access to an almost unlimited range of weapons includes some  capabilities that just about any military would be proud of being able to use.

The second major problem is that the ability to acquire weapons in most states in the USA is just way too easy and there are few checks and balances and the process to legally acquire a weapon is just too lax. There is just too little examination of people wanting to obtain a firearm, something that, while still a right, must be highly regulated.

While it is true that it is the person behind the weapon that does the damage, the damage done also has much to do with the types of guns that an American citizen has access to. Since when do everyday Americans need assault rifles and machine guns, even on properties used for farming? And tear gas? Please. Who on earth needs that? Nobody as yet over the years has been able to cogently explain and justify the need for the right to bear arms to translate into access to automatic and in most cases even semi-automatic firearms.

Gun laws, though regulated by the state, separate from the national constitutional right to bear arms need to be made more stringent, perhaps nationally consistent, though this may be constitutionally and politically impossible as any gun reform has proved to be so far.

So here’s a commonsense plan which would maintain the 2nd amendment rights of Americans, still keeping their right to possess such a deadly weapon while at the same time being realistic about the consequences of the more extreme weaponry around.

First, all states must at least ban access to all automatic weapons or guns that have the ability to operate automatically.

Second, access to semi-automatic weapons should at least be limited, though there should ideally be a strong presumption against people having or needing semi-automatic weapons.

A gun buy-back scheme, similar to the one instituted by the Howard Government after the Port Arthur massacre might be a way for honest citizens to hand over the automatic weapons that they frankly don’t need. Such a scheme would result in at least some of the weapons in circulation being taken out of the public and therefore away from the access of criminals.

As far as gun licensing and regulation goes, there should be a move to a stronger, more nationally consistent license and registration framework which takes into account the individual circumstances of applicants and makes purchasing a firearm a lot harder than buying a fast food meal.

But we must be realistic about things when it comes to gun control in the USA. First, it will never happen. The NRA as a lobby group just holds too much sway. Also, the inability of politicians to budge on such a wide interpretation of the 2nd amendment has hamstrung the prospects of any significant crackdown.

At the same time too, we must also be realistic then even the greatest crackdown on weapons will not remove the devastating consequences of gun crime, various examples of this exist worldwide, but it can be restricted.

The fact that even such a modest proposal like this one would never get up is a real shame.

Some Thoughts on a Monk and a Not So Classy D’Arcy

You’ve all seen the photo by now I’d say, put first on Facebook, but now all over the internet and in newspapers across the country. It’s a photo showing Kenrick Monk posing with two guns across his torso, two very high-powered guns in fact. Beside Mr Monk in the photo was a young man, also no stranger to trouble, Nick D’Arcy. The photo has since caused a storm of debate and threatens to end the Olympic hopes of both D’Arcy and Monk, with our London Olympics Chef de Mission Nick Green not ruling out throwing the two swimmers off the Australian team for bringing the sport and the team into disrepute.

But is this such a hideous breach of standards of decency and sensible behaviour to warrant such strong action against the two Queenslanders? It was certainly silly, but it seems much of the media and the public, for the most part don’t particularly care so much to take any action against the two men who were in the USA training at the time.

First, a bit of context, guns, pretty much any of them are so incredibly legal and easily accessible that you can pretty easily get your hands on just about any firearm you can think of, regardless of how much it may be overkill for the way in which you choose to use it- I don’t need to say I’m only talking about the legal methods.

So really, it’s not unusual in the first instance that D’Arcy and Monk were able to go somewhere which sells guns and pick up, for photographic purposes two powerful weapons perfectly legal in America.

The major issue with the photo for me too is not the fact that the photo was taken, but rather the nature of the photo. Frankly it just looks incredibly stupid. The way the guns are crossed across Monk’s body looks very hillbilly, very redneck, like they are at least inadvertently glamourising the gun culture in the US, a nation with an incredibly high number of gun related deaths in any given year.

The two Australian swimmers are both from Queensland so this too will inevitably lead to yokel jokes abounding from south of the border when it clicks with the do-gooders from southern states. Equally too, we could blame the chlorine for sapping their brain cells. I have, as a former swimmer myself used that excuse for stupidity before.

As was mentioned earlier, these two gents do not have a great history in the eyes of the law and this has inevitably clouded the way in which they are being judged for their actions this week.

Monk confessed to lying about being involved in a hit-and-run accident when he had indeed just fallen off his skateboard and hurt himself and Nick D’Arcy, well he went to court for giving former swimmer Simon Cowley an almighty whack at the end of the 2008 Olympic trials, an act which saw him booted off the team not all that long after being named in it.

So in the scheme of things this was a minor infraction from two young men who have done much more stupid things. Yes, they may well have breached social media policy for the team, but with the public reaction seeming to be restrained  for the most part in response to this act of stupidity could it really be argued strongly that their actions brought the sport and the team into disrepute? Yes, it got published in the media and there was a wave of attention brought toward D’Arcy and Monk and the team for stupidity, but the wider commentary seems to be, why the big deal?

So for that reason alone, little or no action should be taken against both Kenrick Monk and Nick D’Arcy over their little brain fart and hick-like error in judgement.

Whether or not they should have been present in the team in the first place or whether they will continue to make silly decisions is another story.

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