Watch: Jon Stewart *destroys* the US gun lobby


10:40 am - January 9th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

Last night in the USA, Jon Stewart addressed gun control on his show.

The time to talk about guns is now, he says, and rips basically everyone on the conservative right about their rhetoric on gun control.

He also plays clips from Piers Morgan’s epic clash with a nutbag called Alex Jones.

This is perhaps the best argument for gun control made in the US on national TV.

Part 2 is below and better. Part one is here if you want it.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: News

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I can’t see the video. I want to see the video!

Video not working

I’ve seen the full debate between Morgan and Jones. I don’t think Jones could have tried to be a better advert for gun control if he’d been arguing for that position, rather than quite wildly against it.

Usually when I see an article headed ‘watch’ I expect to be able to watch something.

After disengaging my lizard brain and managing to ignore his over-emotional manner, it seemed that nothing Piers said stood up to Mr Jones’s facts. If he’d stayed calm I might have had a different opinion of the American! Why, all of a sudden, do the powers that be want to disarm the American public anyway? Why now?

@5 Well bear in mind that Britain’s violent crime statistics also include all our weekly drunken punch ups by callow youths outside bars on a Friday and Saturday night. You might have noticed Mr Jones steered well clear of comparing murder rate figures, where their rate of 4.8 contrasts with our 1.2.

While the US is 4.8 and England is 1.2, please take the time to note the overall population of both countries as well as the number of guns in each country…

@7 Chuck

Stats like this are usually given as rates which means they are per amount of population. The stats are likely to 4.8 and 1.2 people per 100,000. This means that population has been accounted for.

Since the USA has around 5 times the population it actually means that you have about 20 times as many murders.
(4.8/1.2 = 4 and 4*5 = 20)

After diligent searches, it seems that videos of Jon Stewart’s devastating attack on the US gun lobby are resticted to the US, presumably to limit the damage to the credibility and popular appeal of the lobby.

This is what passes for democracy in the US, as does the extensive gerrymandering of constituency boundaries for electing Congressmen to the US House of Representatives.

News update Wednesday night by Reuters:

“Biden says Obama could use executive orders to restrict guns”
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/09/us-usa-guns-biden-idUSBRE9080UA20130109

Predictably, gun control by Presidential Executive Order will be decried as undemocratic.

11. So Much for Subtlety

I don’t think Piers is doing much to cover himself with glory on this issue. I have been watching a lot of his gun coverage – although not this piece – and I think he looks slick and he sounds smarter than the hicks he talks to (because he is posh and they are hicks), but actually his arguments are lame. He doesn’t understand the guns in question. He doesn’t understand the law all that well. He admits that long guns kill virtually no one, and this one model he hates, the AR-15, even less, but they should be banned anyway – as a gesture. Really? This is the best talking head Britain can send to America?

6. Cylux

You might have noticed Mr Jones steered well clear of comparing murder rate figures, where their rate of 4.8 contrasts with our 1.2.

Bear in mind America is a more diverse place. Which is a polite way of saying those murders are concentrated in two ethnic minorities. You go to the North-East or to the Mid-West and get out of the big cities, you get exactly the same sort of figures. Minnesota’s gun murder rate, for instance, is not far off that, or would be if it wasn’t for Minneapolis which skews the figures. That is, the presence or absence of guns does not make White people kill each other any more or any less.

Haven’t all or most recent gun massacres of school children and students in schools and colleges been perpetrated by whites?

@11. So Much for Subtlety: “Bear in mind America is a more diverse place.”

I have no time for where your argument is heading. I prefer to look at cities such as New York where violence has significantly fallen: by strict gun controls in combination with more policing, perhaps with a “better society”.

Remember this story “New York City celebrates day without violent crime”:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20536201

It must be argued that a liberal society does not need to copy the tactics of New York police to reduce crime. Being good coppers and having enough of them reduces crime.

I’m in Australia, and I can see the Jon Stewart videos that are embedded in the Mediaite player on their website (Mediaite.com) – but I’m being denied access to it here on your website. I also can’t see videos directly from Comedy Central, or in the Comedy Central player no matter where they’re embedded.

If you don’t want to miss out on Jon Stewart (and you really shouldn’t, he’s priceless), maybe you could contact Mediaite and find out why their player/website allows viewing from Australia but not the U.K.

Hopefully they won’t close my handy loophole.

Kate in Australia

Many thanks but after trying again it does seem that Jon Stewart on gun control is blocked in the UK on the mediaite.com links as well as this:
http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/01/09/the-daily-shows-jon-stewart-rips-the-right-for-dancing-around-gun-control-debate/

I can only suggest that in the UK we keep googling on: Jon Stewart gun control.

16. Richard Carey

@ 13 Charlieman

“I have no time for where your argument is heading. I prefer to look at cities such as New York where violence has significantly fallen”

Yeah, I can guess you don’t want to look at Chicago and DC, which have very strict gun control and high murder rates.

Alex Jones does go crazy at Piers, but (a) that’s why they invited him on the show – it gave Piers a massive ratings boost, and (b) if you see the other interviews Piers has done, it was him shouting abuse at his guests, such as John Lott and Larry Pratt.

@ Bob B,

“Predictably, gun control by Presidential Executive Order will be decried as undemocratic.”

I think the word you are looking for is *unconstitutional*. They have this old-fashioned idea that government should be limited, and should follow the Constitution. Funnily enough they got it from us.

As for the murder rate comparisons, it’s true that America has a higher murder rate, as it always has, but it is not uniform. Some states have a lower murder rate than the UK.

@wordizbarn
“Why, all of a sudden, do the powers that be want to disarm the American public anyway? Why now?”

I’m not an expert on US politics but, someone murdering a class full of 7 year olds with a legally held assault rifle, seems a pretty good reason to me.
If it was a one off, maybe you could dismiss it as a freak event, but it appears to be a regular occurance

Each to their won, but I’m happy that all parties in the UK worked together to (further) restrict guns when this happen in Dumblane. I’m happy that my fellow countrymen are not generally armed to the teeth.

16 Richard Carey: “I think the word you are looking for is *unconstitutional*. ”

No. Prior to his political ascendancy, Obama was a professor of constitutional law at Chicago University, an institution known famously for having Friedman, von Hayek and other ranked conservatives among its professoriate.

We can take it, therefore, that Obama is more familiar than most with the wide discretion extended to the permissible scope of Executive Orders by the President – the Iran-Contra affair and President Reagan comes to mind. Besides which, we have recent contributions to public debate on Constitutional Disobedience, such as this recent editorial piece in the NYT by Professor Seidman:
http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1160&context=fwps_papers&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Don%2520constitutional%2520disobedience%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D2%26sqi%3D2%26ved%3D0CCUQFjAB%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fscholarship.law.georgetown.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1160%2526context%253Dfwps_papers%26ei%3D86_iUPH7LqSd0QW5qoG4CQ%26usg%3DAFQjCNHhSglNH2dbAEjDdSdxvBMrCdAAgQ%26bvm%3Dbv.1355534169%2Cd.d2k#search=%22constitutional%20disobedience%22

If there is trouble with that link, there is an academic paper on the web by Seidman: On Constitutional Disobedience, in PDF format, and he has a forthcoming book with that title to be published by OUP, which I’m looking forward to reading. On the case presented, there are ample precedents. Seidman cites the doubts of Thomas Jefferson – principal author of the Declarance of Independence – over the constitutional propriety of the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency. I suspect Obama would personally welcome wider public debate about gun control and the maasacres of school and college students.

Do US citizens have the constitutional right to acquire and bear automatic weapons and canisters of sarin gas as arms? If not, why not?

20. Richard Carey

@ Bob B,

so basically, as far as you’re concerned the President can decree whatever he wants, and there is no check on his power, and you don’t have a problem with that because on this particular issue you agree with him.

How very principled of you to embrace the concept of the Benevolent Dictator. So much more efficient than constitutionally-limited government.

As for your sarin gas bollocks, I have amply answered this very point the last time you asked it, which wasn’t very long ago.

21. Richard Carey

@ Bob B,

here’s something for you to ignore (or misconstrue, the choice is yours):

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Richard Carey: “so basically, as far as you’re concerned the President can decree whatever he wants, and there is no check on his power, and you don’t have a problem with that because on this particular issue you agree with him. ”

No – I don’t believe that the US President can order the raping of girl babies by Executive Order so don’t be ridiculous.

Obama is opening up a much needed public debate in the US on the permissible scope for Executive Orders – which, after all, were used to authorise all sorts of extraordinary actions in the Iran-Contra affair.

Professor Seidman is saying that there are precedents for disobedience to the US Constitution, which has become obstructive to sensible, orderly government – as instanced by the attempt to impeach President Clinton at a time when international politics was more than usually volatile and the US President is, by the constitution, commander-in-chief of the American armed forces. Another example is the current fiscal cliff impasse. I’m looking forward to reading Seidman’s book.

By reports, before Nixon finally resigned, there was an infomal arrangement among US heads of armed forces to confer over any new direct orders from Nixon, as constitutional commander-in-chief of the armed forces, for fear as to what he might do to avoid threatened impeachment over Watergate.

Britain manages without one formal written constitution on the principle that Parliament is sovereign – a Parliament is not bound by decisions of its predecessors.

We have managed with that for centuries, including during the 19th century when Britain was the world superpower, without becoming a dictatorship. Compare the gun homicide rates in America and Britain. Consider, too, the uproar in Britain over extraordinary rendition and the use of torture for enhanced interrogation techniques compared with subdued reaction in America. On the evidence, apart from gun control issues, it is difficult to contend that liberty is better protected in America than in Britain.

23. Richard Carey

@ Bob B,

“No – I don’t believe that the US President can order the raping of girl babies by Executive Order so don’t be ridiculous.”

It’s your reductio ad absurdo, but yes you do, because you believe the President can do whatever he wants, and cannot be constrained by the laws of the land. He already claims to be able to kill ‘suspected terrorists’, and detain people indefinitely without charge. Make your choice. Either the Rule of Law, with the inconvenience that it brings, or trust to the ‘Benevolent Dictator’.

Richard Carey: “It’s your reductio ad absurdo, but yes you do . . ”

That is complete nonsense. The argument is that the US Constitution has become obstructive of good government and has been disobeyed on occasions for pragmatic reasons by several presidents as Seidman shows. Executive orders by the then President were used to authorise a range of extraordinary actions in the early 1980s in the Iran Contra affair:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Contra_affair

Britain doesn’t have a single, written constitutional document but that doesn’t mean the serving prime minister, as head of government, is not constrained by Acts of Parliament, common law, conventions and precedents. Parliament is sovereign. Also, as Thomas Macaulay wrote in 1828: “The gallery in which the reporters sit [in Parliament] has become a fourth estate of the realm.”

The interpretion of the US constitutional right to bear arms (what arms? automatic weapons, RPGs, sarin gas?) has come to mean the greater freedom to become a victim of gun homicide.

25. Richard Carey

“Consider, too, the uproar in Britain over extraordinary rendition and the use of torture for enhanced interrogation techniques compared with subdued reaction in America.”

Uproar? I must have missed that. One of the many ironies is that one man in America who did not have a subdued reaction was Alex Jones, who it’s easy to mock, but who has consistently denounced the use of torture, rendition and all such crimes in the same extreme terms that you see in the Morgan encounter.

I know his style is over the top, and the way he sees the world is conspiratorial. People call him and extremist, and maybe he is extreme, but he has consistently denounced the foreign wars, the drone strikes, the illegal wiretapping, detention without trial etc etc, whether it was Bush or Obama. Now he’s called extreme rightwing. Under Bush he was called the opposite.

26. Robin Levett

@Richard Carey #16:

As for the murder rate comparisons, it’s true that America has a higher murder rate, as it always has, but it is not uniform. Some states have a lower murder rate than the UK.

Really? I’m willing to be corrected, but my recollection from previous research, confirmed by Google today, was that no US state had a murder rate below the UK’s (with the possible exception of Hawaii occasionally – but its population is so low that single figure differences in murder numbers have a huge effect on its stats). It is true that some US states have lower murder rates than others – but oddly those with the lowest murder rates are those (i) with the least lax gun control and (ii) without capital punishment.

Oh, and by the way – I know you’re relying on the figures in this libertarianhome article:

http://libertarianhome.co.uk/2012/12/uk-murder-rate-higher-than-some-us-states/

– but they’re wrong. The author wrote in December 2012 and cited a miscalculation of the UK 2009/2010 figures against US 2011 figures, citing an article nearly 2 years old. I say miscalculated because if the quoted figure of 1.35 per 100k is correct, then England & Wales alone (pop c51m) would have had 743 murders. If the quoted figure of 2.34 per 100k for Scotland (pop 5.2m) were correct, then it would have had another 122 murders – so, even excluding Northern Ireland, the quoted rates imply total murders of 865, more than 33% high.

The correct figure for the UK in 2011 (ie in 2011/12, April to March) is 550 murders in a population of c60m, or less than 1 per 100k. No US state had a rate below 1.2 in 2011:

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state#MRalpha

PS – Ooops – just noticed you were the author of the libertarianhome article. I stand by my claim that you cited the UK 2009/2010 figure as a 2011 figure. The relevance is that (save for 2007/8 and 2010/2011) the UK murder rate has been falling since 2002; see:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/period-ending-march-2012/stb-crime-stats-end-march-2012.html#tab-Violence

and the spreadsheet linked.

27. Robin Levett

my #26:

I say miscalculated because if the quoted figure of 1.35 per 100k is correct, then England & Wales alone (pop c51m) would have had 743 murders.

should read:

I say miscalculated because if the quoted figure of 1.35 per 100k is correct, then England & Wales alone (pop c55m) would have had 743 murders.

28. Richard Carey

“Executive orders by the then President were used to authorise a range of extraordinary actions in the early 1980s in the Iran Contra affair:”

This is your argument? Have you no shame? You’re prepared to argue that, because under a past President,the executive illegally sold weapons to a prohibited country, and used the proceeds to ship weapons to death squads in another, and turned a blind eye to massive drug smuggling into America, the profits being used to further support a dirty war in Central America, then whatever the current President wants to do, no matter it is also clearly unconstitutional and thus illegal, that’s fine with you.

Is there a name for this political philosophy of yours?

Richard Carey

The British government has recently been obliged to pay substantial compensation to a victim of extraordinary rendition while torture abroad, or the prospect of it, has been repeatedly invoked by the judiciary here to prevent the government from deporting foreign nationals who have been accused of terrorist offences or incitement. References to rendition and torture often feature in Parliamentary debates.

A foreign national has recently been arrested and charged in Britain with offences implicating him in use of torture abroad on the grounds that we have laws here which grant the courts universal jurisdiction in cases of torture and war crimes. In principle, this means that if a CIA operative or US military personnel, who have been implicated in the use of torture anywhere, were to pass through Britain they could be detained, indicted and tried in the courts here.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20914282

All that is with Parliamentary sovereignty and without Britain having a constitution embodied in a single document, as in the US.

Richard Carey

” . . then whatever the current President wants to do, no matter it is also clearly unconstitutional and thus illegal, that’s fine with you.”

President Raegan wasn’t impeached or indicted for the Iran Contra Affair but then he was so mentally impaired with Alzheimer’s by the time that he stood down that his advisers and lawyers could probably have successfully claimed he was incompetent to plead. Whatever happened to Col Oliver North?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_North

“Is there a name for this political philosophy of yours?”

I come from the ancient tradition of speaking truth unto power without partisan affiliations. Please note that I’m quoting from US sources who are saying that the US Constitution has become increasingly dysfunctional and that there are ample past examples of US presidents who have disobeyed it.

31. Richard Carey

“All that is with Parliamentary sovereignty and without Britain having a constitution embodied in a single document, as in the US.”

You’re not calling for anything resembling Parliamentary sovereignty, you’re calling for the very opposite; the usurpation of legitimate sovereignty by the Executive! And you claim the Iran Contra scandal as your precedent? Surely, sir, you jest over weighty matters.

Richard Carey

“You’re not calling for anything resembling Parliamentary sovereignty, you’re calling for the very opposite; the usurpation of legitimate sovereignty by the Executive! And you claim the Iran Contra scandal as your precedent? ”

That is absolute nonsense. I’ve specifically said @24 that prime ministers are constrained by Acts of Parliament, common law, conventions and precedents. As for the Police, a senior police officer has just been convicted of corruption in public office for seeking payment from the News of the Worl (NoW) for leaking infomation:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20976214

Past editors of the News International’s NoW have been indicted for various offences relating to the hacking of telephone mailboxes but the cases have yet to come to trial.

The US Constitution has become dysfunctional. The right to bear (?what) arms has become the freedom to become the next victim of gun homicide.

33. Richard Carey

“That is absolute nonsense. I’ve specifically said @24 that prime ministers are constrained by Acts of Parliament, common law, conventions and precedents. ”

Yes, the executive is constrained by the sovereign power, but you’re calling for the complete reverse in America, you’re saying the executive can do whatever it wants, and what is your justification?

“The US Constitution has become dysfunctional.”

Right. The executive is no longer constrained by the limitations of the Constitution, because the limitations of the Constitution no longer constrain him. Circular logic.

Richard Carey

“Yes, the executive is constrained by the sovereign power, but you’re calling for the complete reverse in America, you’re saying the executive can do whatever it wants, and what is your justification?”

I am not saying that. What I am noting is that, as a fact, Executive Orders by American presidents have been used to sell weapons to the Ayatollahs in Iran so the proceeds could be used to finance dubious militias in Nicaragua or, in another instance, to target a cruise missile on an innocent pharmaceuticals factory in Sudan for which American taxpayers had to pay compensation.

The world looks on with growing astonishment when Americans regard those applications of Executive Orders as acceptable but not gun control measures to save American lives in America from criminals and sociopathic gun owners who feel impelled to massacre school and college students.

“The executive is no longer constrained by the limitations of the Constitution, because the limitations of the Constitution no longer constrain him. Circular logic.”

I’ve pointed point that Britain doesn’t have a constitutional document like the US Constitution to constrain the executive in government. We have, instead, Acts of of Parliament, case law, conventions and precedents. And the fourth estate. With a sovereign Parliament legislating for gun control, we have a very low rate of gun homicides compared with America.

Gun control apart, our liberties are not conspicuously less than those of Americans who face much greater risks of being the victims of gun homicide. Gun ownership in America didn’t prevent Timothy McVeigh from bombing government offices in Oklahoma City in 1995 killing 168 people.

The 2nd amendment in full is as follows.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Can anyone (RC?) explain why a law should not be introduced that makes it mandatory to keep all firearms in a locked, secure cabinet? That is clearly not infringing anyone’s right to bear arms, it just means they need to be kept responsibly. In the Newtown shooting this may have meant the perpetrator would not have been able to get hold of his mother’s guns if they were under lock and key.

36. So Much for Subtlety

12. Bob B

Haven’t all or most recent gun massacres of school children and students in schools and colleges been perpetrated by whites?

No. Whites are actually mildly under-represented in spree shootings. Blacks slight over-represented. And Asians grossly over-represented. So The Virginia Tech shooting was carried out by a Korean American, Seung-Hui Cho for instance. Jiverly Wong, who shot up an English language school in New York was from Vietnam. And there was a mass shooting at a nurses college recently by another Korean American.

13. Charlieman

I have no time for where your argument is heading.

Well the facts say what they say whether you like it or not.

I prefer to look at cities such as New York where violence has significantly fallen: by strict gun controls in combination with more policing, perhaps with a “better society”.

You can’t claim it was by anything. We don’t know. New York’s gun laws – have they got tougher? Much tougher? New York has some of the toughest gun laws of any city and the State has some of the toughest gun laws of any State, but they have had those for years. People usually point to abortion, which is dubious I think, they are now talking about the lead in the petrol, the Zero Tolerance policy and ever longer prison sentences.

It must be argued that a liberal society does not need to copy the tactics of New York police to reduce crime. Being good coppers and having enough of them reduces crime.

I am sure you need to believe that too. However it is not true. It is not that the British police don’t catch criminals. They do. Crimes are rarely committed by people unknown to the police. They simply have a catch and release policy so they can go right back to reoffend. We should, indeed, copy the NYPD’s approach.

Can anyone (RC?) explain why a law should not be introduced that makes it mandatory to keep all firearms in a locked, secure cabinet? That is clearly not infringing anyone’s right to bear arms, it just means they need to be kept responsibly

In this context, ‘bear’ means ‘carry’, doesn’t it? Can’t carry a weapon if it’s in a locked, secure cabinet. Unless you can carry the cabinet.

@37 ukliberty

Don’t be so bloody stupid. It gets stored in a secure cabinet and when you want to take it hunting or down the range you take it out. It isn’t rocket science.

Illuminating gun control news from San Francisco in June 2008 showing the drift of decisions by Federal Courts to appeals by the National Rifle Association against laws and ordinances of state and city authorities aiming to tighten controls:

A day after the US Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to possess guns for self-defense, the National Rifle Association sued San Francisco and its Housing Authority for banning firearms in the authority’s public housing.

The NRA filed in federal court Friday on behalf of an unidentified gay man living in Valencia Gardens Housing in the Mission District, who said he keeps a gun in his home for protection against hate crimes even though his Housing Authority lease forbids possession of guns and other weapons. . .

Newsom [SF mayor at that time] conceded, however, that San Francisco could have trouble defending another ordinance that requires residents to store their handguns in a locked box or disable them with a trigger lock. The city’s 11 gun-related ordinances are “constitutionally appropriate,” the mayor asserted, but the trigger-lock measure is “a little more problematic because of the Supreme Court,” which struck down a similar provision in the Washington ordinance.
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/NRA-sues-S-F-over-guns-in-public-housing-3206932.php

By later news, SF City keeps trying to tighten gun control through ordinances.

11. So Much for Subtlety

” Bear in mind America is a more diverse place. Which is a polite way of saying those murders are concentrated in two ethnic minorities. You go to the North-East or to the Mid-West and get out of the big cities, you get exactly the same sort of figures. Minnesota’s gun murder rate, for instance, is not far off that, or would be if it wasn’t for Minneapolis which skews the figures. That is, the presence or absence of guns does not make White people kill each other any more or any less. ”

I am sceptical when it comes to international comparisons of violent crime in general. What constitutes violent crime and how it is recorded is not an international constant so comparisons are often misleading. A lot of our violet crime statistics is young people assaulting each other when they are pissed at the weekend. North American youth are considerably less weekend wild than UK youth. However, murder rates internationally are a valid measure because most murders are recorded.

The Twin Cities skewing Minnesota murder rates is exactly what anyone would expect. Population density skews murder rates all over the world. Sparsely populated rural areas rarely have anywhere like the murder rates of densely populated areas even when looked at pro rata. Maybe it is an evolutionary thing and we not adapted to live so close to each other. Anyway, the valid US and European comparison on murder rates would be to look at areas with similar population density. The national rates do not tell us as much as people believe.

@ Bob

Executive Orders would be a very stupid thing to do. You convince people and win them over to your point of view through rational argument, not steamrollering them. I think it would be better for the US if they had tighter restrictions on some weapons. However, unless the people who disagree are convinced then no good will come from ruling by decree. The US system of government is gridlocked, broken and dysfunctional. But it is not dysfunctional because of the Bill of Rights and Constitution. The dysfunction comes because it is a system designed to promote and broker compromise. If the various Washington parties are not willing to compromise the system will stop working effectively. Don’t forget that each of the two parties are really coalitions of at least three different parties on each side all under the one banner. Because they all have radically different views on the way forward is what is causing the gridlock.

The NRA must be outraged over today’s news on the shooting of a student at the Taft Union High School in central California:

“A teacher at a high school in California has been praised by police for averting a serious shooting incident. The teacher and a campus supervisor talked a gunman into putting down his weapon after he had shot and injured one pupil at Taft Union High School. Police said the gunman had enough ammunition to kill many people. The injured student was taken to hospital in an air ambulance and is in a critical condition.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20975608

It looks to me as though that teacher was breaching the gunman’s rights under the Second Amendment.

Richard W

For centuries, Britain has had an equivalent for US Presidential Executive Orders. It’s called the Royal Prerogative, as exercised nowadays on the advice of the PM or the Cabinet – for historic origins try the Wikipedia entry.

Use of the Prerogative can amount to unchecked (ab)use of executive power. Preparations for the invasion of Iraq by British military forces on 20 March 2003 were made through the Prerogative up to a debate in the Commoms just a few days before the actual invasion. Some regarded that as fundamentally undemocratic in spirit.

Btw I thought I was being very reasonable in those exchanges with Richard Casey whose style of debate was to attribute to me all sorts of views I hadn’t expressed and didn’t hold.

On his side, he persistently avoided responding on the fundamental question as to what kind of arms does the Second Amendment right relate to? Does that right extend to automatic weapons, RPGs or sarin gas canisters? As drafted, the amendment is completely opaque as to its scope. If the right does not extend to include automatic weapons, enhanced magazines, RPGs etc then the principle is accepted that the scope of the right is not unlimited.

43. Richard Carey

@ Bob b,

“On his side, he persistently avoided responding on the fundamental question as to what kind of arms does the Second Amendment right relate to? Does that right extend to automatic weapons, RPGs or sarin gas canisters?”

No, I said I’d already answered the same question from you on at least one other thread.

“Btw I thought I was being very reasonable in those exchanges with Richard Casey whose style of debate was to attribute to me all sorts of views I hadn’t expressed and didn’t hold.”

You are calling for the use of executive orders to override the rule of law. Once this is done, then all manner of crimes can be committed by the executive, because, as the quote from Sir Thomas More indicated, once you throw out the rule of law for a supposedly good cause, then it’s not there to protect you for any other cause. The fact that you used the Iran Contra scandal as some kind of precedent supports my position as much as yours.

@ Robin Levett,

wow, even you have read that post! Fame at last. I linked to all my sources. and I noted the different time periods. The facts remains that the UK has high levels of violent crime, and that its murder rate is around the level of the more peaceful US states, and that gun control in the UK has not led to a reduction in gun crime. Comparisons across different nations are done either to support a partisan position, or are swathed in caveats, due to the different way figures are counted, the inherent dishonesty in compiling such figures, and numerous social factors and geographical differences which must be borne in mind. Obviously my post was partisan – not difficult to work out when there are phrases such as ‘unholy crusade to disarm America’.

No one denies that the US has a higher level of both gun crime and the use of firearms in self-defence and to prevent crimes (2.5 million per year).

Richard Casey

“You are calling for the use of executive orders to override the rule of law.”

No I am NOT. I have pointed many times that: (a) Executive Orders in the US have been used to authorise extraordinary diverse actions, such as in the Iran Contra Affair (see @34 for some detail) (b) as Prof Seidman shows, there are ample precedents for disobeying the US Constitution – he cites Thomas Jefferson’s doubts about the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Who is proposing to revoke that purchase?

Britain, unlike the US, has managed to survive for centuries without a constitution in the form of a single written document through the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty, which entails that a Parliament is not bound by the decisions of its predecessors.

This has not meant that Britain is lawless or that the executive is unchecked by Acts of Parliament, case law, conventions and precedents and the media. Gun control apart, it would be difficult to sustain any claim that Britain is less free than America. Indeed, we have much greater freedom from the risk of gun homicides than Americans.

You just ignor all that and mindlessly repeat your dogmatic and mendacious claim that I want to override the rule of law – which I don’t. I suggest that American laws on gun control be changed, for a start to remove ambiguities as to whether the Second Amendment right to bear arms extends to automatic weapons, RPGs, enhanced magazines, sarin gas canisters etc.

The Second Amendment of 1791 was drafted at a time when American communities were threatened by attacks from the British, the French and by Native Americans, not to mention the possibility of slave revolts. At that time, the only small arms were single shot pistols and muskets with barrel-loading.

45. Richard Carey

@ 35 Chris,

“Can anyone (RC?) explain why a law should not be introduced that makes it mandatory to keep all firearms in a locked, secure cabinet?”

Well, they’re not much use if they’re locked away when you need them. I believe there are various laws about gun storage, and the use of gun safes is widespread, as people don’t want their guns stolen if they are burgled (not that they have our levels of burglary in the US).

It does indeed seem that the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter was incredibly negligent, given the state of mind of her son, but there’s not a lot of information available on what exactly happened.

What you need to consider is the structure of the United States, as a federal union with only certain powers delegated to the federal level and the President. If you check the 9th and 10th Amendments, you will see that the states can nullify unconstitutional laws issued by Washington, whether by President or Congress. Therefore, whatever Obama (and Bob B) think, the states can strike down laws they consider unconstitutional, as can the Supreme Court. There will certainly be attempts to do this if Obama decides to assume the role of Caesar in this matter. If you read the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, you’ll get the idea.

46. Richard Carey

@ bob b,

‘“You are calling for the use of executive orders to override the rule of law.”

No I am NOT.’

You most certainly are, and you are claiming that previous such criminal acts set the precedent. They don’t. All they do is remind us that criminals in high places do not usually face justice.

Those who buy into tribal, party politics like to ignore the violations of their side and only get irate about the violations of the other side. I am not partisan to the Democrats or Republicans. Therefore, I don’t grant Obama or Clinton a free pass to violate the Bill of Rights, just because Bush and Reagan did so also.

Neither, I might add, is Jefferson above reproach. Like many politicians, he was better when out of power than when in power. Nevertheless, he understood the necessity to limit the government, and did what he could to put in place the tools to do that, illustrated by the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which he crafted with Madison.

Your dislike of written constitutions is irrelevant. It’s purpose is not to make the business of government easier. Quite the opposite; it is intended to limit government power. Clearly it is not enough merely to write it and expect it to work its magic. It needs people to uphold it against abuses, such as the abuses of Reagan in Iran Contra and those you are advocating.

47. Robin Levett

@Richard Carey #43:

The facts remains that the UK has high levels of violent crime, and that its murder rate is around the level of the more peaceful US states, and that gun control in the UK has not led to a reduction in gun crime.

True, untrue, and untrue respectively.

I linked to all my sources. and I noted the different time periods.

You did link, but failed to check the numbers. Someone who trusted you to have done due diligence on the figures would have thought that your claim that the UK murder rate was significantly above that of a number of US states was supported by them, rather than, as you were well aware, blown out of the water by them.

You did not note the different periods. Your claim was that the UK figure was for 2011. It was not. The period you were citing ended before 2011 started.

Have you now amended the post, now that the issues have been drawn to your attention?

Richard Casey

“Your dislike of written constitutions is irrelevant. It’s purpose is not to make the business of government easier. Quite the opposite; it is intended to limit government power. ”

I agree that my dislike of ‘written constitutions’ is irrelevant.

The fact is that Britain has managed well without a ‘written constitution’ – in the sense of the US Constitution comprised in a single document – for centuries past.

Our principle is Parliamentary sovereignty in which Parliaments are not bound by decisions of previous Parliaments. But that does NOT mean there are no constraints on the executive powers of government. The constraints come from Acts of Parliament, case law, conventions, precedents and the media.

The judiciary in Britain has a long tradition of challenges to successive governments with a history going back at least to the 18th century. Our historic rights to jury trials, habeas corpus etc go back to Magna Carta 1215, way before the US Constitution. Governments here often complain about judicial decisions overturning government decisions or blocking government actions, notoriously so in human rights cases.

This shows that it is patently FALSE to claim, as you have claimed, that without a ‘written constitution’ there are no constraints on the powers of the executive in government. By your repeated assertions to the contrary, you are showing that you are incapable of comprehending the basic facts about Britain’s government as a functioning constitutional monarchy – with tough restrictions on gun ownership, which is why we have such a low rate of gun homicides compared with America’s annual toll of 9,000. We also manage pretty well without having to make Holocaust denial a criminal offence to maintain public order and polituical stability.

Btw on partisan affiliations, as previously mentioned, I’m a dedicated floating voter having at various times voted: Conservative, Labour, Liberal, LibDem and Social Democrat, according to prevailing circumstances and my judgement of national interests.

49. Richard Carey

@ 47 Robin,

I’m not going to rewrite the article just because you don’t like it, and it doesn’t fit your agenda. People can judge for themselves by looking at the sources. Comparisons are difficult to make, for the reasons I gave above, and statistics are always released some time after the end of the period they look at. If you think quoting a figure from the Guardian which they state has just been released by the Home Office indicates some kind of egregious negligence on my part, then be my guest. What you can do, if you choose to or feel obligated in the service of mankind, is to comment on the post and offer your denunciation there.

If you think the written constitution guarantees you your rights, you best put ‘Japanese Americans 1942′ into a search engine.

“If you think the written constitution guarantees you your rights, you best put ‘Japanese Americans 1942? into a search engine.”

I’ve just posted this in another thread about the First Amendment to the US Constitution:

I was deeply impressed by US media reports in 2003 of how American commercial radio stations stopped playing the music tracks from the Dixie Chicks group after members of the group had expressed critical comments about President GW Bush and the invasion of Iraq.

So much for the protection of free speech in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, I thought. As reported, a large percentage of commerical radio stations in America are owned by Republican interests, which perhaps explained why the owners found the Dixie Chicks so objectionable.

Being personally somewhat distanced from the pop music scene, I had no idea who the Dixie Chicks were at that time so I searched YouTube to get a flavour and rather liked what I heard:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsjYZwCars4

For reference, the text of the First Amendment includes this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On the evidence, in America, much greater importance is attached to the Second Amendement to the US Constitution on the right to bear (what?) arms than to the protecting the freedom of expression in the First.

52. Richard Carey

@ 50 Cylux,

I hope that’s not pointed at me. See my comment @ 46:

“Clearly it is not enough merely to write it and expect it to work its magic. It needs people to uphold it against abuses”

Believing that a law should be followed does not equate to believing that the law is always followed.

@ 51 Bob B,

the example you give has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment, unless those radio stations were prohibited by law from playing music by that group. You may not agree with the decision of the radio stations, I’m sure I don’t either. You can find plenty of actual examples of the 1st Amendment being violated. There are some outrageous cases of people being incarcerated for speaking out against America’s involvement in the 1st World War.

Probably the worst systematic violation of the Bill of Rights concerns the 4th Amendment. There has been a promising victory against NYPD very recently, ruling against their use of stop and search, but the massive warrant-less wiretapping and abusive security procedures at airports etc continue. Sadly these things don’t seem to bother the tribal supporters of Obama, as they used to when Bush was President.

I am certainly not claiming that only the 2nd Amendment needs defending. The whole of the Bill of Rights needs defending – it doesn’t defend itself.

53. Robin Levett

@Richard Carey #49:

I’m not going to rewrite the article just because you don’t like it, and it doesn’t fit your agenda

In my humble opinion, writing a post based upon figures that you know are wrong would be dishonest; as would be failing to amend the post once the inaccuracy of the figures is drawn to the author’s attention. Your mileage may vary.

If you think quoting a figure from the Guardian which they state has just been released by the Home Office indicates some kind of egregious negligence on my part, then be my guest

Your post was dated 22 December 2012; the Grauniad article you cite in that post was published on 20 January 2011, some 23 months before. You could not possibly have believed that the Grauniad article provided a figure for 2011 – unless you believe that the Home Office is in the business of clairvoyancy?

Beyond that, the very first paragraph of the Grauniad article reads:

The murder rate in England and Wales has fallen from 644 to 619 over the last year to its lowest level for 12 years

It is patently obvious from that figure that the E&W figure of 1.35 per 100k must be wrong, because taking that rate over the UK population of 60m produces 810 murders, not 619. At a rate of 1.35 per 100k, the population of the UK would have to be below 46m fto prroduce a total of 619. The fact that the Grauniad also quotes rates for Scotland and NI that exceed the E&W figure makes the position worse for you.

Even if you will not amend the post, presumably you are not going to repeat in this or any other forum the central, inaccurate, claim?

Richard Carey

“the example you give has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment, unless those radio stations were prohibited by law from playing music by that group. ”

I agree that pulling the music tracks of the Dixie Chicks off radio broadcasts was technically not a violation of the First Amendment but it was most certainly a rejection by mass media of the principle freedom of expression. Of course, those amendments to the US Constitution c. 1791 took no account of modern technologies – how could they? – and that is a compelling reason for doubting their good sense and relevance in current conditions.

I’m really looking forward to reading Seidman’s forthcoming book: On Constitutional Disobedience (OUP)

The longer I reflect on whether having a rigid, antiquated national constitution embodied in one revered historic document is a “good thing”, the more I conclude that it is observably daft and obstructive of good governance.

Our forbears in Britain were very wise to reject that option and to rely instead on constraining the executive actions of governments by Acts of Parliament, case law, conventions, precedents and the media. The great benefit of the Common Law tradition of Britain, instead of, say, legal structures like the Code Napoleon, is the option of continuously adapting case law to current conditions.

If the balance of public opinion, as represented in Parliament, doesn’t like the outcome of the judicial process then it is open to Parliament to legislate – which is why we have the current gun control laws that we have and the ensuing low rate of gun homicides.

56. Richard Carey

@ Robin

“In my humble opinion, writing a post based upon figures that you know are wrong would be dishonest”

I didn’t.

“… as would be failing to amend the post once the inaccuracy of the figures is drawn to the author’s attention. Your mileage may vary.”

I am not aware of any inaccuracy which changes the overall point of the post, which although clearly indicating my view of gun control, also states that the UK murder rate is lower than the US murder rate.

“You could not possibly have believed that the Grauniad article provided a figure for 2011 – unless you believe that the Home Office is in the business of clairvoyancy?”

The post itself states the different time period, and points out that the UK figures increased 5% afterwards, this also linked to another Guardian source. If the Guardian made a mistake, complain to them. If you’re bothered with the post, do what I said above and post your criticism in the comment thread. Otherwise it looks like you’re just preening, and your constant recourse to ad hominem does not help persuade me.

I think we can all agree that America is an extraordinary place, with extraordinary prevailing social values

Guns must never be locked up there in case guns are required for instant access to kill someone, for ease of access by children and passing robbers, and to prevent government tyranny.

It is dusk and someone knocks at the front door so you open it and shoot the caller with a hollow-nosed bullet to guarantee a fatal outcome.

When the police arrive and ask “how come”? You say: “It was self-defence. I thought he was going to kill me.”

Police search the corpse and say but he was unarmed. You then say, “But how was I to know that?”

The corpse is removed and that, apart from some minor procedures, is the end of the matter.

What is, perhaps, even more extraordinary is that many Americans apparently believe that countries which control gun possession, have no respect for the rule of law and really aren’t “free”, free to endure the high gun homicide rate that Americans put up with, namely 9,000 a year.

What isn’t so extraordinary is that people living in countries with gun control think that Americans who believe that are paranoid nut cases. The American exceptions include city and state governments, as in San Francisco, which have repeatedly sought to impose a series of gun control restrictions, often without success because the intended controls are struck down as unconstitutional by the Federal courts following appeals by the National Rifle Association.

@45. Richard Carey

“What you need to consider is the structure of the United States, as a federal union with only certain powers delegated to the federal level and the President. If you check the 9th and 10th Amendments, you will see that the states can nullify unconstitutional laws issued by Washington, whether by President or Congress. Therefore, whatever Obama (and Bob B) think, the states can strike down laws they consider unconstitutional, as can the Supreme Court.”

That may be the case but my point is that if the president was to introduce a law making it a requirement to store guns securely, rather than leaving them lying around in draws and shoe boxes, it would not be unconstitutional since it does not violate the 2nd amendment.

Can you come up with any reasons why a law like this should not be implemented?

Chris: “Can you come up with any reasons why a law like this should not be implemented?”

The usual plea is that requiring guns to be kept in locked cabinets,when not on the person, prevents instant access to guns when the need arises – such as when an intruder calls. The locked cabinet requirement therefore detracts from the unqualified freedom to bear (?what) arms in the Second Amendment.

I’m not sure if there have been any legal challenges along those lines but I don’t believe that the right to bear arms is detracted by the weapon being kept in a cabinet.

In any case the 2nd amendment doesn’t refer to defending your home from intruders. It refers specifically to “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. I don’t think that you are preventing a militia from operating by making laws so that it takes a few seconds more to get their guns.

Presumably most people don’t keep their weapons in the draw next to their bed or under their pillow. Even so, they can keep their locked cabinet in their bedroom and it will only take a few seconds to access their weapons.

61. Robin Levett

@Richard Carey #56:

The post itself states the different time period, and points out that the UK figures increased 5% afterwards

No it didn’t; the relevant part of the post – the only oen that mentions the time period, reads:

Therefore, let us imagine that the United States gained a couple of extra states; England & Wales (as one) and Scotland. This is usually how statistics are gathered in the UK (Scotland has a separate legal system, amongst other things). For the year 2011, the murder rate per 100,000 people for England & Wales was 1.35 and for Scotland 2.34.

As the graph shows, there are four US states with a lower murder rate than England & Wales, namely Hawaii, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, and an additional six which are lower than Scotland, those being Minnesota, Iowa, Utah, Maine, Oregan and Idaho, with Wisconsin, Washington and South Dakota not far behind.

Note the emphasised sentence. The captio to the graph reads “Murder Rates per 100,000 for 2011 by state plus England and wales and Scotland”.

You did add at the end the caveat “The UK figures are from a slightly earlier period, after which they increased marginally.” Unfortunately, the “slightly earlier period” was April 2009-March 2010 (UK rate 1.0 (619/62m)- during which period the US murder rates by state (minimum 0.8 (NH), no other state lower than 1.3)were significantly higher than shown in the graph; and while the rate increased marginally for 2010-2011 (UK 1.04 (644/62m), (minimum 1.0 (NH), nothing else lower than 1.1), the rate for 2011-2012, which was the closest comparator to the US figures, was 10% lower at 0.88 (550/62.5m), 27% lower than the lowest US state rate (Hawaii at 1.2).

So yes, in small US states in New England or the mid-Pacific, where small absolute changes in murder numbers produce large swings in murder rates, you can occasionally find numbers lower than the UK’s. It is not however true that, as a general proposition, “UK Murder Rate [are] higher than some US States”; and specifically, for the comparison year you chose, 2011, the UK murder rate was 27% lower than the lowest US state.

If you’re bothered with the post, do what I said above and post your criticism in the comment thread.

Why? It is a view you have expressed here, so I am dealing with it here.

Otherwise it looks like you’re just preening, and your constant recourse to ad hominem does not help persuade me.

This is not ad hominem. It is the inaccuracy of the figures, not the fact that you won’t resile from them, that demonstrates the paucity of your argument. The issue of honesty relates to your maintaining that the figures are comparable when they clearly are not, and blaming the Grauniad for any inaccuracies in your post and failure to apply the most obvious sanity check to the numbers you were quoting.

To put it another way, I am not saying that you are arguing dishonestly, therefore your argument is wrong (which arguably would be ad hominem). I am saying that the accurate figures show your argument is wrong, and that if you continue to rely upon the inaccurate figures you are arguing dishonestly. The latter is just gravy – the criticism of the argument stands up by itself.

Presumably said weaselness is what earned Mr Carey the nickname of Tricky Dicky.

Try this on gun safety precautions and the US States which have introduced laws requiring guns to be kept in locked cabinets or subject to trigger locks when not in use so as to minimise unintentional injuries:
http://smartgunlaws.org/locking-devices-policy-summary/

Quoting:

“Every year, firearms cause thousands of unintentional deaths and injuries. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 789 people died from unintentional firearm injuries in 2005. Moreover, 15,000 persons in the United States are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional gunshot wounds. Children and young adults are frequent victims of such accidents. A 1991 study found that 8% of accidental shooting deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six.”

TV news report: California has some of the toughest gun contol laws going:
http://www.kmph.com/story/20564420/california-gun-control-laws-a-close-look

Thanks for that Bob. It was an interesting read.

There are 12 states that have laws on locking devices at the moment which suggests that either the legality hasn’t been challenged or that they have been declared constitutional.

It would seem that this is a possible avenue that the White House could go down towards trying to find a solution to the huge problem.

Chris

Contrary to impressions fostered by gun lobbyists, it seems very clear that some US states, notably California, are very alert to gun control and gun safety issues.

It rather looks as though some local lawmakers have been steadily working through every control measure that they think might survive challenge in the Federal courts by the NRA. The lawmakers and their electorates are unconvinced by all the rhetoric about instantly accessible guns being essential for personal protection and to stop government tyranny.

Judging by reports, the motivation for the locked cabinet requirement is to stop children and passing robbers getting access to guns at the homes of gun owners and to reduce the likelihood of spouse homicides in domestic conflict situations.

Try this report from Florida about the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen because he looked suspicious and because there had been earlier reports of a prowler in the neighbourhood:
http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/20/911-calls-paint-picture-of-chaos-after-florida-teen-is-shot/

67. So Much for Subtlety

55. Bob B

which is why we have the current gun control laws that we have and the ensuing low rate of gun homicides.

You keep making this claim Bob, but why do you believe it? After all, in 1900 when anyone could buy any gun they liked in the UK, there were four gun crimes in the whole of London. Not four gun murders. Four gun crimes.

There is no obvious link between gun laws and gun crime – except that gun laws tend to precede a rise in gun crime.

57. Bob B

In fairness Bob, you ought to mention the British equivalent – where people break into your home, where you call the police but no one comes, where your wife and children are raped and tortured and then they steal everything worth much. If you’re lucky the police may turn up to take a statement.

Gun laws are part of a bargain where we agree to be helpless in exchange for the police agreeing to protect us. The police have manifestly failed to do so in every possible respect. But still sheep like Bob insist that it is better to let the wolves roam free, preying on whomever they like, rather than taking responsibility for our own protection.

What isn’t so extraordinary is that people living in countries with gun control think that Americans who believe that are paranoid nut cases.

And yet in 1940 America was one of the few democracies left in the world. The Europeans, with their long histories of being supine to the State, stood by as democracy was destroyed and their Jews sent off to their deaths. As they would have stood by as their bankers and landlords followed them. It may be paranoid of America, but if democracy survives in the world it does so because of that American paranoia. They are the only consistent defenders of democracy in the world.

SMFS: “You keep making this claim Bob, but why do you believe it? After all, in 1900 when anyone could buy any gun they liked in the UK, there were four gun crimes in the whole of London. Not four gun murders. Four gun crimes.”

Try harder not to be so silly. How easy was it to get guns and ammunition in Britain in 1900 and at what cost? What was Britain’s homicide rate by all methods at that time? Low? What was the incidence of other violent crime? Without answers to those questions, your “point” carries no weight at all. It’s laughable that you thought it significant to make a comparison with 1900.

In “fairness”, you need to explain why some city authorities and state governments in America keep trying to tighten local gun control ordinances and laws within the limits of what the Federal courts deem permissible under the Constitution if personal gun ownership is so essential in America for personal protection.

I note that gunnuts posting here are avoiding the highly relevant question as to “what” arms the second amendment relates it? Does the right to bear arms by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution extend to automatic weapons, RPGs, sarin gas canisters etc ? Why do so many other relatively affluent, industrialised countries have stringent gun controls if guns are crucial for personal security?

In Britain, with our complete ban on handguns and the restrictions on ownership of rifles and shotguns, we have nothing like the numbers of “unintented” homicides and young children committing accidental homicides compared with America.

In the news:

“An eight-year-old girl from London has been shot dead while on holiday in Jamaica. Imani Green was inside a shop in the rural north coast town of Duncans when a man entered the store on Friday and an argument broke out. Police said the man then opened fire, shooting at people inside.” [BBC website 13 January 2013]

Previous news:

Ships from Miami steam into Jamaica’s main harbor loaded with TV sets and blue jeans. But some of the most popular US imports never appear on the manifests: handguns, rifles and bullets that stoke one of the world’s highest murder rates.

The volume is much less than the flow of US guns into Mexico that end up in the hands of drug cartels — Jamaican authorities recover fewer than 1,000 firearms a year. But of those whose origin can be traced, 80 percent come from the US, Jamaican law enforcement officials have said in interviews with The Associated Press.
http://current.com/community/90245283_guns-from-america-fuel-jamaicas-gang-wars.htm

International pollution by America’s gun culture is yet another part of the human cost.

Sorry for typos in earlier posts but many of the letters on my 6-month old MS keyboard are already worn clean.

Bad news for gun-nuts:

“The number of people killed from gunshot wounds in England and Wales fell to 39 last year from more than 100 a decade ago. ” [BBC website]

That is despite there being no relaxtion in gun controls. The news from America gets worse – try Tim Harford: More or less on gun control statistics
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p012184b

According to FBI stats, more than 12,000 Americans were killed in gun homicides last year – not the 9,000 being widely quoted.

An illuminating insight about trends in violent crime in Britain:

Scientists found that cities where lead pollution was reduced experienced falling levels of robbery and violent crime around 20 years later. [Independent Online]

Evidently, gun controls are not the only factor affecting trends in violent crime.

71. So Much for Subtlety

68. Bob B

Try harder not to be so silly. How easy was it to get guns and ammunition in Britain in 1900 and at what cost? What was Britain’s homicide rate by all methods at that time? Low? What was the incidence of other violent crime? Without answers to those questions, your “point” carries no weight at all. It’s laughable that you thought it significant to make a comparison with 1900.

It is not silly Bob, you just do not understand how vacuous your argument is. How easy was it to get guns? Trivial. You could walk into Harrods and buy a machine gun if you liked. Ammunition even more so. How expensive it was I don’t know but I could probably check. Well within the means of most people. Britain at that time had a very low homicide rate over all. Which, by that way, simply proves your argument wrong – it is not gun laws that deter murder but culture.

So we seem to be in agreement – it is not gun laws that made Britain so safe in 1900. Because they did not have any. Your argument is specious.

In “fairness”, you need to explain why some city authorities and state governments in America keep trying to tighten local gun control ordinances and laws within the limits of what the Federal courts deem permissible under the Constitution if personal gun ownership is so essential in America for personal protection.

No I don’t. Why would I? The only thing that matters is whether or not those efforts make people safer. They do not. Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in America. They also have one of the highest murder rates.

I note that gunnuts posting here are avoiding the highly relevant question as to “what” arms the second amendment relates it?

Note it by all means. But it is irrelevant.

Why do so many other relatively affluent, industrialised countries have stringent gun controls if guns are crucial for personal security?

Because the governments of those countries do not give a flying f**k about the personal security of ordinary people. But I note that everywhere the leaders of those countries go, they are protected by many men with fully automatic weapons. It seems when it comes to their own personal safety, they think there is no alternative to a gun. Go figure.

In Britain, with our complete ban on handguns and the restrictions on ownership of rifles and shotguns, we have nothing like the numbers of “unintented” homicides and young children committing accidental homicides compared with America.

True. But we never did. Because we are not America. Likewise even though Jamaica has even tougher gun laws than we do, murder is rife. Worse than the US. And while Switzerland has an automatic assault rifle in nearly every home, their murder rate remains low. There is no obvious correlation between gun ownership and gun crime. Although America may have more accidents – even though the numbers are small.

SMFS: “You could walk into Harrods and buy a machine gun if you liked. ”

That’s more sillyness. In 1900, how many could afford to buy a machine gun and in Harrods?

Many factor affect crime. In the debates on whether poverty causes crime, it is often pointed out that, with the exception of places like Glasgow, crime was relatively low in England and Wales in the depression years of the 1930s. By this report in The Guardian in October last year, crime in England and Wales has been on a downward trend since the mid 1990s – all without relaxing gun controls:

Crime in England and Wales has fallen by a further 6% in the past year and the chances of becoming a crime victim are at their lowest since the early 1980s, according to the latest set of official figures.

The surprise overall fall in crime was more than matched by a 14% drop in the murder rate, down to 545 homicides in the 12 months to June 2012. This is a significant fall from a peak of 800 a year, excluding the 172 attributed to Harold Shipman, seen in the early years of this century.

The 6% fall in crime reported in the latest quarterly figures by both the Crime Survey for England and Wales and the separate police recorded crime figures means that crime has now dropped by more than 50% since it peaked in the mid-1990s. [Guardian 18 October 2012]

“Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in America. They also have one of the highest murder rates.”

The Chicago gun homicide rate could be even higher without those gun laws. Why do city and state governments in California keep pushing the envelope of gun controls to see which ones will survive challenges in the Federal courts by the NRA? Why would they want to do that if possessing a gun is so vital for personal security in America?

The claims by gun-nuts that gun homicides in England and Wales are going up is false. Gun crimes are down over the last decade. On the latest figures from the FBI, there were more than 12,000 gun homicides in America last year. That compares with: “The number of people killed from gunshot wounds in England and Wales fell to 39 [in 2011] from more than 100 a decade ago. ”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9744000/9744699.stm

I believe most of us are very grateful that we seldom experience situations like this in Toledo, Ohio, when we go into a bar with friends for a quiet drink:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tkEFCAPgCA

Situations like do sometimes happen in London. About a decade or so back on a Saturday I caught a bus to West Croydon railway station to find the London Road there going north all taped off with Police tape. I asked a passing pedestrian what was up? Two black guys had been shot dead in a club opposite to the station.

74. So Much for Subtlety

72. Bob B

That’s more sillyness. In 1900, how many could afford to buy a machine gun and in Harrods?

If this is your argument now, you should have said that the problem with American gun laws is that guns are so cheap plebs and ghetto trash can afford to buy them – that is your argument now isn’t it?

Many factor affect crime.

Welcome to the real world Bob. Not just gun laws then.

By this report in The Guardian in October last year, crime in England and Wales has been on a downward trend since the mid 1990s – all without relaxing gun controls:

Yeah but there is a problem with reporting. Let’s take it at face value. Poverty has no effect on crime. We are in the middle of a recession and crime is going down. On the other hand we are still living with the legacy of Michael Howard – prison numbers are up. Thus we can probably conclude the obvious – prison works.

The surprise overall fall in crime was more than matched by a 14% drop in the murder rate, down to 545 homicides in the 12 months to June 2012. This is a significant fall from a peak of 800 a year, excluding the 172 attributed to Harold Shipman, seen in the early years of this century.

Which is probably due to the police targeting Gangs in places like Manchester and Liverpool. Plus more freedom to Stop and Search – which is probably one of the big reasons behind New York’s decline.

The Chicago gun homicide rate could be even higher without those gun laws.

It *could* be but you have no reason to think it would be.

Why do city and state governments in California keep pushing the envelope of gun controls to see which ones will survive challenges in the Federal courts by the NRA?

Because passing a law is cheap and simple and makes for good TV. Plus the government wants people disarmed. Plus it is SWPL innit? Urban middle class people do not live near urban non-middle-class people. Especially non-White non-middle-class people. They have police protection. They want to take guns from minorities.

73. Bob B

Situations like do sometimes happen in London. About a decade or so back on a Saturday I caught a bus to West Croydon railway station to find the London Road there going north all taped off with Police tape. I asked a passing pedestrian what was up? Two black guys had been shot dead in a club opposite to the station.

Gee Bob, what is the word in that paragraph everyone here is ignoring? Here’s a hint – Minnesota has a gun murder rate outside of Minneapolis of about 1 per 100,000. Which is better than some European countries. Minneapolis skews the whole state’s statistics. White people in the US do not have a problem with gun crime (except to some extent if they live in the South). As Britain moves from looking like rural Minnesota, to look more like urban Minneapolis, we can reasonably expect that our crime rate will look like urban Minneapolis too. Or perhaps Chicago. Because culture matters.

SMFS

That’s just more bluster to obfuscate and cover up the realities.

In America, over 12,000 gunshot homicides last year, according to the FBI

In England and Wales, gun homicides down to 39 in 2011.

Understandably, city and state governments in California keep trying to tighten gun controls despite repeated challenges in the Federal courts by the NRA. Why would they want to do that if guns are so essential for personal security in America?

Try these newsreel reports for instructive insights into American gun culture: World’s scariest police shootouts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePNdHxCpCrs

According to the FBI, there were more than 12,000 gun homicides in America last year.

Among the insights are armed criminals equipped with body armour and bank robbers using automatic assault weapons with armour-piercing bullets and enhanced magazines. Does the Second Amendment include the right to bear this kind of weaponry?

77. So Much for Subtlety

75. Bob B

That’s just more bluster to obfuscate and cover up the realities.

Pot. Kettle. Etc. Etc. We are now in agreement you were wrong Bob. I don’t need to bluster.

In America, over 12,000 gunshot homicides last year, according to the FBI

Good for them. There is no reason to think gun laws have a particularly big effect on this whatsoever. Well that is not true. There does seem to be a link to suicides and perhaps accidents. But we all endorse people’s right to kill themselves, right?

Understandably, city and state governments in California keep trying to tighten gun controls despite repeated challenges in the Federal courts by the NRA. Why would they want to do that if guns are so essential for personal security in America?

Because those laws do not apply to politicians. They are not offering to go without bodyguards. They will continue to be surrounded by men with guns that would be illegal for anyone else to own. It is the minorities with guns that they object to.

76. Bob B

Among the insights are armed criminals equipped with body armour and bank robbers using automatic assault weapons with armour-piercing bullets and enhanced magazines. Does the Second Amendment include the right to bear this kind of weaponry?

No. So they are illegal. How is that gun ban working out Bob? We will get there soon when Britain becomes a minority British country too. It is not the guns, it is the culture or lack thereof.

78. Chaise Guevara

@ 77 SMFS

“We will get there soon when Britain becomes a minority British country too.”

That’ll be soon, will it? What proportion of residents are currently non-citizens?

Chaise

It’s not worth bothering with SMFS.

The basic question for Britain is whether we want to import a gun culture like America has, with over 12,000 gun homicides there last year and the police shootouts as shown in that horrifying video clip linked @76.

All the polling shows a clear public preference for retaining the present tough gun control restrictions. Relaxing gun controls isn’t a live issue in British politics. A British political party floating relaxing gun controls as a manifesto commitment would get clobbered.

80. Chaise Guevara

@ 79 Bob B

Agreed. America may be stuck with its gun culture, and it’s very possible that banning guns there would make the problem worse. All the more reason for us not to open the floodgates and end up in the same situation.

Chaise: “America may be stuck with its gun culture, and it’s very possible that banning guns there would make the problem worse.”

For all that I know that could be true but I follow the San Francisco news fairly closely and the city council there has persisted in adopting one gun control ordinance after another in full recognition that some may be struck down by the Federal courts as unconstitutional following appeals by the NRA.

The implications are that the city council and the city’s electorate obviously don’t buy the stories that guns are essential for personal security or that tighter gun controls will make matters worse. The dogged persistence in trying to tighten gun controls year after year speaks volumes.

It might be supposed that the radical politics of the city and its lingering tradition from the 1960s of hippie flower-power would put businesses off the city but business flourishes there and so many businesses and people are trying to get to SF to settle that commercial and housing rents are soaring faster than anywhere else in America, so much so that there are acute pressures on lower-rent housing.

The city’s combination of radical politics and affluence is remarkable. The most recent local libertarian issue was not gun control but a ban on public nudity in response to rising complaints.

82. Chaise Guevara

@ 81 Bob B

I didn’t say tighter controls were a worry – they’d probably be a good idea – I said banning guns altogether might backfire (ho ho). If they were to ban guns, doing so gradually, by tightening controls first, might be a smart move.

News update:

US President Barack Obama is expected on Wednesday to unveil wide-ranging measures aimed at curbing gun violence.

The proposals could echo measures, considered the toughest in the nation, passed in New York state on Tuesday.

Mr Obama has said he favours bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as broader background checks.

The US gun control debate has been revived by last month’s mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21032450

At last, I’ve found that elusive video of Jon Stewart on gun control on YouTube – but I don’t know for how long it will be there:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K13HdTsW_E0&feature=player_detailpage

85. So Much for Subtlety

78. Chaise Guevara

That’ll be soon, will it? What proportion of residents are currently non-citizens?

Well a minority White British if you want to be silly about it. We import Jamaicans, we get Jamaican gun culture too. It is a package deal.

79. Bob B

The basic question for Britain is whether we want to import a gun culture like America has, with over 12,000 gun homicides there last year and the police shootouts as shown in that horrifying video clip linked @76.

Yet again Bob, it has been shown time and time again to you that it is not guns that causes it. It is people. We are importing a gun culture like America has. Because we take people from the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America. Places with horrific levels of crime – and often very strong gun laws. They will bring their culture, we will get their gun crimes too.

If you have a problem with that, go for the people, or at least try to change their culture, don’t waste time with the guns. As Britain used to have no gun laws at all and yet no gun crime either.

All the polling shows a clear public preference for retaining the present tough gun control restrictions. Relaxing gun controls isn’t a live issue in British politics. A British political party floating relaxing gun controls as a manifesto commitment would get clobbered.

Give it time. There is no way to reconcile social democracy, the welfare state and a multi-racial, multi-ethnic society. We have chosen to be more like Brazil. We will have Brazil’s crime problems as well as its atomised society. Which means in the end, what is left of British society will demand the right to defend itself. Especially as the police have abdicated that responsibility.

86. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“Well a minority White British if you want to be silly about it”

Making a distinction between British and white British is hardly silly.

SMFS: “Yet again Bob, it has been shown time and time again to you that it is not guns that causes it. It is people.”

On the evidence of those FBI stats reporting more than 12,000 gun homicides in America last year, Americans are compulsively or obsessively disposed to go around killing their fellow citizens with guns.

The common sense solution is to reduce access to guns or to guns which facilitate killing. By media accounts, governing authorities in New York and California have reached the same conclusion and have tightened or are tightening gun controls in so far as they can within the limits set by the US Constitution as it is interpreted by the Federal courts in response to appeals from the NRA.

From media report of President Obama’s proposals, I gather he is proposing legislation that would ban sale to private citizens of automatic weapons and limit the size of magazines to 10 shots. One implication is that such bans are not currenly applied. By media reports, it is unlikely that such legislation will be able to muster sufficient support to get through Congress.

My best guess, sad to say, is that little will change and it won’t be long before we are reading reports of yet another massacre of school children or students at college.

The NRA is saying that to stop massacres, there must be armed guards at schools and colleges – which will certainly add to public expenditure commitments at the very time of the pressures to cut public spending to reduce the Federal deficit. That apart, what a resounding message that would send out to the world:

In free America, it is necessary to have armed guards in every school and college to prevent massacres.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jon Stewart Destroys Anti-Hurricane Relief Republicans | THE SCARECROW

    [...] Watch: Jon Stewart *destroys* US gun lobby on his show (liberalconspiracy.org) [...]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.