Books

Americans and their gun culture: attached at the hip

Americans have an almost mystical belief that guns are synonymous with freedom, says Michael Moorcock, reviewing Gun Baby Gun. Every time there’s a call for stricter arms control, the sales of guns rocket

25 April 2015

9:00 AM

25 April 2015

9:00 AM

Gun Baby Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of the Gun Iain Overton

Canongate, pp.358, £18.99, ISBN: 9781782113423

Like the documentary journalist Iain Overton, author of this book, I was taught to shoot and maintain a gun as a boy. As an adult I joined a campaign to monitor, curb and limit the arms trade. I taught my children good gun protocols and how to shoot. There is an undeniable pleasure in shooting.

When I moved to Texas I immediately bought a black powder Navy Colt with which to practise the cowboy spins, rolls and shifts I had learned as a boy. The thing Bible-belt Baptists, Bedouin tribesmen, Brazilian drug-barons and Boer farmers have in common is a love of guns. Guns are in our DNA. Yet statistics prove that, wherever they proliferate, murder and suicide rise and children are killed. The mantra of the NRA (National Rifle Association) of ‘guns don’t kill people; people kill people’ sounds convincing until it’s changed to ‘guns don’t kill children; children kill children’. The statistics are overwhelming.

Unlike Michael Moore, who in Bowling for Columbine fudged his statistics and loaded his arguments so much that he weakened his own case, Overton has checked his facts and his statistics thoroughly and wherever possible interviewed all concerned, whether in the Americas, Africa, Europe, Australia or Asia. As a result his book is chilling.


There are probably as many guns in the world now as there are people. Unlike refrigerators, cars or vacuum cleaners, guns have to be made to last. This means that new markets constantly have to be found. Whenever a school shooting, in particular, happens in the USA there is a predictable, but by no means widespread, call for stricter gun laws — and the sales of guns rise sharply. In a climate of fear, in spite of a declining crime rate, many Americans go out to buy themselves an AK-47.

Their decision is supported by a liberally interpreted constitutional amendment, a national organisation originally intended to train young marksmen, an aggressive gun industry and an almost mystical association of the gun with ‘freedom’. For the British the symbol of government interference is the hated identity card. In the USA the symbol is gun control. The NRA is today essentially a trade lobby, but there are direct Washington lobbyists for the likes of Smith &Wesson, Glock and the rest, most tottering from one financial crisis to another whenever the trade reaches saturation. Enormous gun shows attract millions of men, some women and no black people at all. Increased militarisation of police creates firepower quite inappropriate, even for Rio, Johannesburg or New Orleans.

Overton presents a compelling argument for gun control as he follows the money back to the makers, dealers and men of violence profiting from what is essentially an addiction. Men respond as fiercely as speed freaks to any threat to take away their porn, cars or guns. You don’t have to be a committed Freudian to work that one out. And the ‘liberties’ most Americans seem to be defending have very little to do with the right to vote or equality under the law.

According to Gun Baby Gun over 1,000 companies from some 100 nations make guns and ammunition. That’s about eight million a year at a low estimate. America alone produces nearly six million. Italy, France and Britain are major makers, while Russia and China are too secretive to publish figures. And the profits are enormous, often being of crucial importance to national economies.

Kalashnikov, creator of the universally popular AK-47, had really wanted to produce tractors. The original gunsmiths were barely aware of their products’ ultimate use. They were absorbed in solving technical problems, working out means of mass production. Remington began by making typewriters and sewing machines, Winchester made toilet equipment and the mighty Glock began by designing curtain rings. As Overton points out: ‘The principles of production were all the same — it is just that guns have a very different use to other mass-produced items.’ In fact Samuel Colt’s particular success with the Navy model I bought in Texas was that it was the first pistol which could be mass-produced in huge numbers. Because it was so reliable and parts easily replaced it became the most popular revolver in the world.

One fact hardly mentioned in this relentlessly engrossing book is the importance guns had in American territorial expansion. There was never such a large civilian domestic market anywhere else, and historically it allowed the manufacturers enormous power to consolidate and protect their interests. While many American liberties had to be reinterpreted and fought for, like free speech, the Second Amendment was a gift to the gun business. It, too, is capable of different interpretations but in this, as in religion, the majority seems to prefer the toxic fundamentalist interpretation to a more moderate one.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

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  • 59110311

    “Enormous gun shows attract millions of men, some women and no black people at all.”

    That’s news to me, seeing as I am half black and have attended a number of gun shows. The article is an opinion piece, and the author is either dishonest or ignorant, probably both.

    • avebaby

      Yes, dishonest and ignorant…and insulting too, to think that flashing the credentials of his time in Texas buys him any credibility.

      The gun shows and shooting ranges I’ve attended were plenty diverse. My most interesting afternoon at the shooting range occurred when I had to wait for an open lane. All the slots were taken by portly, middle aged men in full Hasidic regalia. They shot with great purpose and a high degree of accuracy. I asked the manager what was up. “They’re from the 47th Street Diamond Dealers Association.”

      Oh.

    • wyclif

      That line about American blacks is an enormous, blatant lie.

      It’s as if the author isn’t aware that many blacks own guns legally, use guns responsibly, and engage in the same kinds of legal firearm activity—shooting clubs, membership in firing ranges, hunting—that white people do. It does not help the author’s case at all (and in fact, goes so far over the line that it calls into question the author’s integrity) that he engages in these obvious forms of concern trolling.

    • Mc

      Even if no black people attended guns shows, I’m fairly sure that there is a sizable number of black gun owners in the USA, who are arguable as much in favour of retaining gun ownership as the gun show attendees.

  • ACN

    Britain a major maker of guns and ammunition? Where on earth did you get that idea from? The small arms and ammunition makers have been long gone from Britain for many years. Unless you are counting the likes of Purdey’s producing bespoke sporting guns at £ 80,000+ a throw. Like most commentators on the subject you seem to know little or nothing of the facts in Britain. Even the armed forces rely on imported materials (eg. propellant powders) for their bangs.

    • ThatOneChap

      This. It’s a massive obliteration of what used to be a core part of British culture and a vast industry that was the chief employer of entire towns and cities.

      In addition to this, I might just add that modern British gun legislation is not based on any actual logical reality or statistical analysis, but the small-mindedness of a tiny cabal of Chief Police Officers and government ministers who ignored reality in order to push agendas that were set out long before the tragedies of Hungerford and Dunblane.

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmhaff/95/95ap25.htm

      https://ukshootingnews.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/mckay-report-appendix-1-composition-of-the-working-party/

      Because of this, the UK went from a world leader in firearms production and design, as well as the cross-political spectrum support of long held beliefs in the right to bear arms and the enjoyment of firearms of all kinds in safe competition, as well as employment in the defence of one’s life and property, were flushed down the toilet, as well as all the employment, tax, skills, capability, etc that went along with it.

      It is one of the biggest shames of post-war Britain.

      • ACN

        Thank you TOC, for the useful links. I largely agree with you, although I think you overstate the historical size of the gun trade. My point was that Britain being blamed for the number of guns in America, or anywhere else, is completely ignoring the facts that we don’t actually make any! The firearms and ammunition manufacturing industry having long been legislated out of existence. If I want a firearm and ammo for it I have to look abroad.
        What is worrying is the extent that Britain’s armed forces rely on foreign suppliers for it’s basic equipment.
        Things wouldn’t have worked out so well if we had contracted Hitler to supply our ammunition.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        It goes back very specifically to the original Firearms Act of 1920, based on Establishment paranoia about anarchists & bolshevics. It was a radical Act that turned a very widely armed (and very peacable by modern standards) society into one with ever more stringent gun controls. As these controls were ramped up progressively, so gun crime rose in parallel…

    • Malcolm Stevas

      I believe Eley still make the world’s best .22 rimfire ammunition, favoured by e.g. Olympic competitors. And we still produce – against the odds – world class competitive shooters, military snipers, and riflesmiths.

      • ACN

        Kynoch and others (ammunition), Webley (pistols, rifles, shotguns), BSA (Rifles, shotguns, military small arms of all types), Ardeer (propellant powders), and the industry in general – all gone. (I don’t count air guns). Eley make fine .22 rimfire but no longer manufacture proper centre fire, not even for the forces. Competition shooters? Olympic pistoleers have to go abroad just to practice! Riflesmiths? I bet I could count ’em on one hand. There were tales, hopefully untrue, that the MoD had to go shopping abroad for small arms ammo during the Falklands conflict.

        • Malcolm Stevas

          Yes, you’re entirely right, but I was just offering one or two lingering remnants of our arms industry (whatever happened to BSA…) to show it’s not wholly defunct!
          Yes, it has been widely reported, with (I believe) some accuracy, that we needed lots more 7.62 rifle ammo very quickly, and FN in Belgium were not forthcoming – for reasons that were political.
          If a country is going to be self-sufficient in anything it really ought to be defence procurement, as well as energy supplies.

  • James

    We forget the right to own a gun is an amendment for citizens to protect themselves against political forces. The way things are going, its a good idea to own a gun with the rise of Islamic State in Great Britain.

    • Brian

      No, it isn’t.

      The Second Amendment was written in conjunction with Article One, Section 8, Line 12. The concept was to restrict the ability for the Federal Government to build and maintain a permanent standing military. The Founders had every reason to distrust any central government with a military at its beckon call.

      Therefore, they wanted We the People to control the mechanism for national defense, which is where the Second Amendment comes in. The goal was NEVER to give We the People the means to defend ourselves from our Federal Government. Why would we have to if that government didn’t have a standing military? Right? A government without a standing military is no threat at all, except legislatively and we have the power of the vote for that.

      So the Second Amendment was written to provide the mechanism by which We the People could DEFEND our government and borders against any foreign enemy whenever Congress declared an Act of War. A system of well regulated Militias in which (at the time) males of age would be members would train in weapons and tactics appropriate for national defense.

      It took the DC vs Heller Decision to effectively rewrite the Second Amendment replacing the context of national defense with self defense.

      • 59110311

        Wrong. Read the Federalist Papers and get back to me.

        • Brian

          I’m right. Read some history and get back to me. Because I know you won’t, here’s some to get you started:

          As the 2nd Amendment makes clear, a militia of able bodied male citizens armed with their own firearms is the only lawful land defense and offensive force contemplated for America. It is to be supplemented by a standing navy intended primarily for defense, as provided for by Art 1, Sec 8. If it is regulated, we assume it has some military training and more uniformity. There is no provision in the constitution for any standing professional army. In fact, it was contemplated that the militia was to be the sole army and was to be assembled and regulated as necessary and disbanded otherwise. The founding Fathers strongly opposed a standing professional army. It was anathema and a threat to our freedoms.

          Article 1 Sec 8 grants Congress the power to raise and support such militia armies when needed but states that “no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” That was intended as a limitation on a standing army. Of course such an appropriation could be renewed as the continuing contingency of any on-going war necessitated. .But the idea was for review for disbandment was to be considered after each two years of any wartime. Absent an on-going war, the regulated militia was to disband and any appropriation was to terminate at the end of that second year. A standing professional army with an on-going and routine appropriation is unconstitutional and yet that is exactly what we have.

          Moreover, the suppression any rebellion or revolution by the people was not to be addressed by a standing army that is continuously funded, nor by the police. In such event, Congress was “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, Suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;” and To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;” All this is not empty or idle verbiage as the notion of a fully funded professional army would make it.

          Article 2 Sec 2 defines the powers of the President —

          “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;” The President is the commander in chief of the forces that are sent to war by the Congress. The forces that the president sends are temporary militias in service for no more than two years, except as necessary by continuing engagement.

          This structure was designed to prevent a continuously funded standing army because the Founding Fathers feared such an army. They required use of militia instead.

          James Madison: “As the greatest danger to liberty is from large standing armies, it is best to prevent them by an effectual provision for a good militia.” (notes of debates in the 1787 Federal Convention)

          Thomas Jefferson: “Nor is it conceived needful or safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace for [defense against invasion].” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Annual Message, 1801. ME 3:334

          Thomas Jefferson: “The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.” –Thomas Jefferson to Chandler Price, 1807. ME 11:160

          Thomas Jefferson: “The Greeks and Romans had no standing armies, yet they defended themselves. The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing army. Their system was to make every man a soldier and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible; and the same remedy will make us so.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1814. ME 14:184

          “I am for relying for internal defense on our militia solely till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy which, by its own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us, will grind us with public burdens and sink us under them.” –Thomas Jefferson

          “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.” – James Madison

          • Dean Weingarten

            I do not understand the point that you are trying to make. It seems irrelevant to the discussion. Yes, the founders did not expect to have a permanent standing army. So what? That does not invalidate the individual right guaranteed in the second amendment.

            Are you trying to say, “because we have a standing army now, the second amendment is invalid?” That does not make any sense. At a minimum, the second amendment would have to be repealed by constitutional amendment.

            At best, I see your argument as “We no longer need a militia, therefore we no longer need the second amendment.” But, that does not invalidate the second amendment, it merely is an argument for repealing it. Such an argument may be persuasive to some, but the numbers persuaded by it are very small in the United States.

          • Brian

            Let me explain it again.

            The Founders did not wish this nation to have a standing military as they stated (and I quoted). This would negate the Federal Government from having a standing military to use for national defense. Follow me so far?

            This would seem to leave this nation defenseless. Yes, without a Federal standing military, it would be…only the Founders were smart guys and thought the process through. As this was meant to be a nation of, by, and for We the People, it seemed only reasonable and rational to ensure that We the People remain intimately involved in EVERY aspect of national defense including putting our own lives on the line to defend our own government and our borders.

            With that in mind, they wrote the Second Amendment to protect the right to keep and bear ARMS… I’ll stop right there to discuss the word ARMS. They didn’t say “guns,” did they? They wrote ARMS. Why? Because it takes guns and much more to adequately defend a nation against an aggressor. If the Second Amendment had anything at all to do with personal self defense, they would have written the word “guns” and probably the words, “self defense.” But they did neither. The word ARMS indicates a military context of weaponry.

            And as we read the entire first half of the Second Amendment, that’s what we find…the context of national security. Again, nothing about the Second Amendment indicates in any way that they were attempting to enshrine a personal right to “keep and bear guns” for “self defense.” It just isn’t there either in specific verbiage nor in-between the lines.

            That concept of “self defense with a gun” was only enshrined by the Supreme Court which clearly has had a specific Conservative bias for the better part of the last 40 years or so.

            But back to the question… the entire idea by the Founders is that we would never allow a central government to control a standing military as it would provide too much opportunity for mischief (i.e. Iraq) or to use against us at home, as they wrote extensively about.

            A central government without a standing military is no threat at all to We the People, is it? So all that nonsense about NRA guns being used to protect us FROM the government has nothing to do with the Second Amendment and everything to do with NRA/Gun Manufacturer propaganda to increase gun sales. The best way to protect ourselves from “the government” is to make sure it doesn’t have an army to use against us in the first place. Right?

            But if we do that, then we still need a way to defend ourselves. Correct? And to do THAT, we refer to the ACTUAL Second Amendment which clearly places the right to keep and bear ARMS (not just guns) into the context of national security so that We the People always control the weapons necessary and appropriate for national defense.

            The Heller Decision itself “repealed” the Second Amendment by ignoring the context of national defense and replacing it with self defense. And two centuries of apathy have effectively “repealed” the intent of Article One, Section 8, Line 12 because we, in fact, do have a permanent standing military that “the government” is free to do with what it wants without ever consulting nor involving We the People.

            Is any of this sinking in, or does your lust for guns clouding your ability to comprehend the actual intent of the Second Amendment?

          • J Smith

            three strawmen and two red herring in a series of run-ons does not help your bizarre argument

          • Brian

            In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Stevens, after conducting his own extensive analysis of the Second Amendment’s text, history, and purpose, disparaged Scalia’s historical analysis, stating that the Court had based its holding on “a strained and unpersuasive reading” of the amendment. In Stevens’ opinion, the amendment protects the individual right to bear arms only for certain military purposes and does not limit the authority of legislatures to regulate private, civilian use of firearms (Id., at 2822).

            Stevens contends that not a word in the constitutional text supports the Court’s “overwrought and novel description” of the Second Amendment as elevating above all other interests “the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home” (Id., at 2831). Rather, when each word in the text is given full effect, “the Amendment is most naturally read to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia”(Id., at 2831). And there is no indication that the “Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution” (Id., at 2822). Instead, the historical record confirms that “the Framers’ single-minded focus in crafting the constitutional guarantee to keep and bear arms’ was on military uses of firearms, which they viewed in the context of service in state militias” (Id., at 2826).

            Stevens argues that, in adopting the individual-right view, the Court had granted a “new constitutional right to own and use firearms for private purposes” (Id., at 2846) and had overturned long-standing precedent in Miller. In contrast to Scalia, Stevens interprets Miller to mean that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for certain military purposes, but it does not limit government’s power to regulate nonmilitary use and ownership of weapons (Heller, at 2823).

            Stevens contends that many courts have relied on Miller, which is both the most natural reading of the amendment’s text and the interpretation most faithful to the history of its adoption. He contends that “even if the textual and historical arguments on both sides of the issue were evenly balanced, respect for the well-settled views of all of our predecessors on this Court and for the rule of law itself would prevent most jurists from endorsing such a dramatic upheaval in the law” (Heller, at 2824). The dissent concludes:

            The Court would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons and to use the common-law process of case-by-case judicial lawmaking to define the contours of acceptable gun control policy. Absent compelling evidence that is nowhere to be found in the Court’s opinion, I could not possibly conclude that the Framers made such a choice (Id., at 2847).

          • Brian

            And if you STILL refuse to believe actual history (and grammar), then you’d have to be against the DC vs Heller SCOTUS Decision anyway because even it places specific limits on the types of ARMS that civilians are permitted to own at home for “self defense.”

            That decision is fundamentally flawed anyway, but it contradicts itself because in claiming that the Second Amendment was written specifically for individuals to own ARMS at home for self defense, the Heller Decision defines the word “Arms” as “guns.” And not just “guns,” but specific kinds of guns.

            So despite the claim by the NRA and Gun Nuts everywhere that the Second Amendment provides an unfettered right to keep and bear ALL types of Arms (not just guns), the Heller Decision rejects that and redefines the Second Amendment word “Arms” to mean “guns” AND it removes the entirety of the phrase “shall not be infringed” by specifically limiting the kinds of ARMS you are allowed to own at home.

            Look, the bottom line is that if the Founders wanted to enshrine the “right to keep and bear Guns for self defense, hunting, collecting, and target practice” they would have written THOSE words. But they didn’t. Any rational human being can read the words themselves within the context of when they were written and comprehend that the Amendment was written specifically to provide the mechanism by which We the People would DEFEND our government and our borders.

      • Dean Weingarten

        The “collective rights” theory that you expound was created out of whole cloth in the Kansas Supreme Court in 1905. The right was always regarded as an individual right before that. Heller simply recognized the individual right as including self defence, which had always been the case. The right was never limited to only the ability to form a militia, though that purpose was clearly mentioned in the present participle. If you read the debates during the time of passage of the amendment, which are mentioned several times in the Heller decision, it is clear that the right to keep and bear arms was not restricted to militia service, though it was seen as essential to creating a militia. Here is an expert analysis of the English structure of the wording that you may find interesting.

        http://www.constitution.org/2ll/schol/2amd_grammar.htm

        • TEEBONICUS

          Nice work, Dean. Copperud’s grammatical analysis of the amendment completely destroys the progressives’ faux construct.

      • TEEBONICUS

        You overtly ignore statements made by our Founders directly contradicting your premise.

        Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton et al definitively stated that the people’s right to arms was, as a last resort, a defense against government tyranny.

        You can regurgitate the lie, but repetition will never make it true.

      • Ivan Ewan

        Would you prefer it if all these people with guns formed militias instead – would that be better?

        • Brian

          Not the way you frame it.

          The Second Amendment doesn’t just say “militia.” It mandates “well regulated Militia.” So it isn’t just a bunch of dudes with guns declaring themselves to be a militia.

          More than that, we know how the Founders defined a well regulated Militia and how it was to be organized. It’s called The Militia Act of 1792 which outlines in very specific language what the militia does, how it is organized, and what is expected of officers and members.

          http://www.constitution.org/mil/mil_act_1792.htm

          • J Smith

            “Well regulated” did not mean government regulations at the time, it meant the militia (every citizen not a felon) should have the arms of regulars instead of pitchforks and scythes.

      • J Smith

        Brian your claim has been debunked over and over. Clearly an individual right in scores of cases until 1905 when the same courts who ruled criticizing the draft was not protect speech claimed it was not an individual right. For most of the history of the US, including clearly now, it is an individual right

    • Mr B J Mann

      But it’s:

      ‘A well-regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’

      NOT:

      ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed *BECAUSE* *OF* A well-regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State,.’

      And debates about the amendment, and various state amendments, which go into more detail, list other reasons such as hunting, self defence, etc.

      And it’s based on the old English right to bear arms, sadly overturned by modern “liberal” PC governments.

  • avebaby

    “Men respond as fiercely as speed freaks to any threat to take away their
    porn, cars or guns. You don’t have to be a committed Freudian to work
    that one out.” You don’t have to be Freudian to notice that the author of that sentence is the one stringing those associations together, either. Project much?

    • Malcolm Stevas

      Well put. The crudest kind of laboured, amateurish pseudo-psychoanalysis is par for the course among anti-gun propagandists, here and in the USA.
      I’ve been around guns & shooting most of my life – despite the hurdles placed in our way by the UK Establishment – and you couldn’t find a wider cross-section of society anywhere, or a more normal one. Sure there are a few weirdos, but probably no more (if Moorcock can speculate, so can I) than among a similar sized body of butterfly collectors or archeologists.
      Maybe Moorcock associates guns with porn, and cars, but that’s his problem. He should see an analyst.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    It can be a little hard to put your finger on America’s problem. The only thing you can be really sure is that they have one.
    So do the obvious, hate it and leave it.
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • PavePusher

      Get bent.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Get lost I can understand, but “get bent”. The jargon of a sub- sub-culture I am not familiar with.

        • PavePusher

          Google it.

      • Ivan Ewan

        Isn’t he, already?

    • Dean Weingarten

      Americans have problems. More than one. But the number of guns in circulation is not one of them. The crime rate differences are caused by demographics, not guns. If Europe had the same demographic structure as the United States, the crime rates would be about the same. Remove the demographic groups that do not exist in Europe, and the homicide rates for the U.S. fall in the middle of European ones.

      http://gunwatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/european-murder-rates-compared-to.html

  • wyclif

    A far more responsible piece was published by Alex Massie in the Spectator back in 2008: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/alex-massie/2008/07/why-do-americans-love-guns/

    “Rather importantly, neither Canada nor Switzerland was founded at the point of a gun. Timing matters. I’d suggest that had the United States been in a position to declare independence from Britain in 1676 rather than a century later, American culture might be rather different. As it was, the revolutionaries launched their war just as guns became sufficiently reliable and affordable to be everyday purchases for “ordinary” people. Swiss independence, of course, pre-dates the gun while Canadian independence was, generally speaking, a peaceful, negotiated affair rather than the consequence of an armed insurrection.”

    British knee-jerk commentators who are not interested in history should take heed before taking it upon themselves to lecture Americans on gun control.

    • Molly NooNar

      We don’t get enough history, thanks for sharing.

      • Mr B J Mann

        Perhaps Switzerland wasn’t founded at the point of a gun because it was founded at the point of a sword?

        Oh, no, I remember now:

        Point of a crossbow bolt!

  • JohnEffKerry

    “In a climate of fear, in spite of a declining crime rate, many Americans go out to buy themselves an AK-47.”

    And we are supposed to take the author seriously after that bit of made-up nonsense? You are lying Mr. Moorcock. Deliberately lying, writing falsehoods like a childish fantasist. By the way, in the opening picture of the little girl reading for a pistol? Wisconsin law prohibits minors from possessing firearms. As does every single state in America.
    The truth, with which you are obviously not familiar, is that the crime rate, murder rate and death by firearm rate is lower than it has been in decades. While the number of guns owned by Americans, as is their Constitutional right, has steadily climbed.

    • Simon Fay

      Be fair: he writes fantasy for a living. And like JG Ballard probably gets an orgasm of excitement out of that which provides him with horrified fascination to peddle to his fawning audience.

  • Brian

    The Second Amendment was written in conjunction with Article One, Section 8, Line 12. The concept was to restrict the ability for the Federal Government to build and maintain a permanent standing military. The Founders had every reason to distrust any central government with a military at its beckon call.

    Therefore, they wanted We the People to control the mechanism for national defense, which is where the Second Amendment comes in. The goal was NEVER to give We the People the means to defend ourselves from our Federal Government. Why would we have to if that government didn’t have a standing military? Right? A government without a standing military is no threat at all, except legislatively and we have the power of the vote for that.

    So the Second Amendment was written to provide the mechanism by which We the People could DEFEND our government and borders against any foreign enemy whenever Congress declared an Act of War. A system of well regulated Militias in which (at the time) males of age would be members would train in weapons and tactics appropriate for national defense.

    It took the DC vs Heller Decision to effectively rewrite the Second Amendment replacing the context of national defense with self defense.

    • PavePusher

      Bullshit.

      1. The Second Amendment was added well AFTER Art. One.

      2. The people had just had a lengthy war kicked off by DEFENDING themselves from a tyrannical government.

      3. Heller merely recognized and affirmed previous court rulings and part of the original intent of the Amendment.

      You fail badly on simple history.

      • RE Hafner

        Appears Brian rewrites history to satisfy his own agenda.

  • Mr B J Mann

    Switzerland has almost as many guns per head as the US and hardly a any gun crime.

    In Rwanda they killed 800,000 people in 3 months.

    That’s triple the kill rate in the Holacaust.

    And yet Rwanda is just off the bottom of the (Guardian’s!) gun ownership league tables:

    They killed that many, that quickly, and that efficiently armed with nothing more than an assortment of kitchen utensils and garden implements plus a few sharpened sticks!

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Holocaust

      • Mr B J Mann

        Grauniad’s

  • PavePusher

    Hard to believe that the person who wrote this tripe also produced this: https://spectator.com.au/features/15159/why-i-am-becoming-an-american/

    Apparently, you are a liar AND don’t really understand America at all.

  • Roger Hudson

    The founding Fathers have been proved right, external treaties and foreign wars, a standing army, all warned against.
    We often forget that it was Lincoln who did most to destroy the political culture of the United States, by creating a Union you can’t leave democratically.

  • RE Hafner

    And yet another liberal blow hard spewing nonsense.

  • zoid

    this is less a book review than an article airing the reviewer’s prejudices…

    yes the crime rate in the us has gone down over the last 20 years…gun ownership has increased and carry laws have become more liberal in a lot of states……the conclusion i draw from that is the opposite to moorcock…that the more legal firearms there are, the less crime…

    my own point of view would be that a thief/attacker is probably less inclined to engage with someone who is carrying openly…yes, they may also be carrying a firearm, but at least there’s a degree of equality about any confrontation in that both parties are armed…

    i’m a brit and believe that we’ve been systematically prevented from firearm ownership to forestall the need to arm police….however, since handguns were banned in the wake of dunblane, there are now more gun related incidents……most of the guns used are illegal and the victims often have no means of self-defence……so prohibition has disarmed the law-abiding and put them in the position of either being victims or lawbreakers…

    for all my beliefs, i’m a law-abiding person who therefore has no means of protecting my family from possible intruders…

    also we need to consider that even senior police and security officials talk of our next major terror attack in terms of ‘when not if’…..when that happens, i’d like to think that brits would not have to cower like the shoppers in westgate mall, hiding and waiting to be shot, but would have the means to offer resistance…

    ‘arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and
    preserve order in the world as well as property…horrid mischief would
    ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.’ – thomas paine

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

  • TEEBONICUS

    No “compelling argument” can surmount a fundamental right.

    That is the difference between the United States and every other country in the world.

    And we intend to KEEP it that way.

  • Richard Eldritch

    This isn’t Michael “Elric” Moorcock is it?

  • Precambrian

    Which animals do predators target? They target the weak and isolated. The young, the sick, the elderly.

    The same is true of ‘human’ predators; they too target the weak…those unable to defend themselves.

  • English people have always had weapons of self-defence until very recently, when they were unilaterally and I think unlawfully taken away. Why unlawfully? –Because self-defence is a natural right.

    OK, so if I move back to England I can be sure of three things:

    1) I am not allowed to defend myself in my own home;

    2) intruders know this;

    3) they will have a gun to enforce their will, knowing that I don’t.

    The gun is the equalizer. It makes Little Old Granny as powerful as she ought to be against a bad person (man or woman but, alas, more likely man).

    When you outlaw guns, only outlaws have guns. And they are willing to use them against the innocent. I’m with the Second Amendment and freedom for the free.

    P. S. I lived in Texas for five years. I’d want Texans on my side in any disaster, any day of the week.

    • Ivan Ewan

      I’m largely with you on this. If the Labour party does get in, with its new vow to criminalise “Islamophobia” – which I have, because I’m a little worried that one day a bloke called Mohammad might conceivably attack me for the sake of Allah – well, I may well emigrate to a country where I wouldn’t be a thought criminal.

  • This article and another recent one shows me that The Spectator really needs someone very much au fait with American life as some sort of editor. You do have an American readership, and you do have readers knowledgeable about American life. Your writers, meanwhile, often try to pass off second-hand guff and tendentious anti-American opinion, and it just won’t float. It’s an international community now. And I for one will speak the truth about America, even though I don’t love all that sail in her.

  • Mr B J Mann

    All the Way Down the Slippery Slope: Gun Prohibition in England and Some Lessons for Civil Liberties in America
    Professor Joseph E. Olson and Professor David B. Kopel
    http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/histn/histn043.htm

    PDF:
    http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/histn/histn043.pdf

  • Malcolm Stevas

    “..statistics prove that, wherever they proliferate, murder and suicide rise and children are killed”
    Ah, those “statistics” – Moorcock is selective, and wrong. Other countries with similar levels of homicide to the UK have very different attitudes to firearms, but with similarly low rates of gun crime. Switzerland comes to mind – shooting is the national sport, they have the best shooting ranges in Europe, and you see people carrying rifles on the bus as they go to or from shooting competitions.
    This is just more anti-gun propaganda of the most crass and ill-informed variety.

    • Mr B J Mann

      In fact the Swiss issue all able bodied males of military age with military firearms to keep at home.

      One of the reasons the Swiss have almost as many guns per head as the US.

      But hardly any gun crime.

      Meanwhile in Rwanda they killed 800,000 people in 3 months.

      Triple the kill rate in the Holocaust!

      Yet Rwanda is just off the bottom of the (Guardian’s!) gun ownership league tables!!

      They killed that many, that quickly, and that efficiently armed with nothing more than an assortment of kitchen utensils and garden implements plus a few sharpened sticks!!!

    • Alphonso de Barbo

      …you fail to undersrand that America is full of the disenfrachised who do not subscribe to the humanitarian ideas and ideals lived by in such countries as Switzerland. Go and live in the ghetto’s of America for a time and get a taste of reality

  • Bob John

    So if someone breaks into your house what do you defend yourself with – toothpicks?

    If you ban guns law abiding citizens will lose out as the criminals will always get guns.

  • Gerschwin

    Next time some Mohammedan decides to run pell mell through a shopping mall lopping off infidel heads – won’t you wish you had a Colt?
    Gun laws hand power to the criminal and the terrorist and leave the decent and innocent exposed – NO TO GUN CONTROL.

  • Ivan Ewan

    Well of course the feared intrusion into freedom in the UK is identity cards instead of guns. Guns are more or less banned already.

  • fsilber

    Crime in our cities and towns may be down from it’s peak, but it still is way above what it was in those places _before_ the “Great Migration” of the 1950s — so our ability to deter and stop crime remains a priority.

  • AlienPsyTing

    Well for my two penneth when I first went to the states back in 1990 on one of my little cultural adventures in Los Angles I went to a shooting range and whilst there met a good few folks who carried guns and found them to be by and large level headed nice people not ‘Gun Nuts’ as the propagandists always seem to refer to them as.

  • Mr B J Mann

    “The mantra of the NRA (National Rifle Association) of ‘guns don’t kill people; people kill people’ sounds convincing until it’s changed to ‘guns don’t kill children; children kill children’. The statistics are overwhelming.”

    That would be “statistics” like:

    “The mantra of the NRA (National Rail Association) of ‘trains don’t kill people; people kill people’ sounds convincing until it’s changed to ‘trains don’t kill children; children kill children’.”

    Or:

    “The mantra of the NRA (National Rapier Association) of ‘swords and knives don’t kill people; people kill people’ sounds convincing until it’s changed to ‘knives don’t kill children; children kill children’.”
    There’s probably a posh Latin name for such a illogical attempt at a counter argument.

    Definitely a few choice Anglo-Saxon ones!

    • Mr B J Mann

      How about banning not just knives, but all implements, and even twigs?

      As I said below:

      In fact the Swiss issue all able bodied males of military age with military firearms to keep at home.

      One of the reasons the Swiss have almost as many guns per head as the US.

      But hardly any gun crime.

      Meanwhile in Rwanda they killed 800,000 people in 3 months.

      Triple the kill rate in the Holocaust!

      Yet Rwanda is just off the bottom of the (Guardian’s!) gun ownership league tables!!

      They killed that many, that quickly, and that efficiently armed with nothing more than an assortment of kitchen utensils and garden implements plus a few sharpened sticks!!!

  • Mr B J Mann

    “Men respond as fiercely as speed freaks to any threat to take away their porn, cars or guns. You don’t have to be a committed Freudian to work that one out.”

    Is that from the book?

    Or your own Freudian slip?!

    What have cars got to do with porn?

    Do you cycle and so suffer from a bad back, fertility problems, erectile dysfunction, and non-cycling driver envy?!?!?

    And why “speed freaks”?

    Or have you just been conned by all the anti-car lobby propaganda?!

    Like (see the parallels?!) transport policy is dictated by the car and road lobbies?

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm:

    So the country is covered by speed cameras and traffic “calming” because motorists lobbied for it?!?!

    So Italy started planning its first Autostrada in 1921, the year the first British road lobby and road building company were set up to promote a London Birmingham motorway, yet Italy had its finished in 1926 and we haven’t started the London Birmingham one yet, but our first, 8 miles of Preston bypass, wasn’t opened until 1956, and we have less motorway than the Germans had at the start of the war, and a fraction of what they have now, and of the rail-road system we still have, and spend as much on as the entire road system, because transport policy is dictated by the car and road lobbies?!?!?!

    So farmers were convinced they should ditch their more efficient traction engines, running on rails up the sides of their fields, pulling ploughs back and forth on ropes, for the not just inefficient, but evil and planet destroying, tractor by the car and road lobbies?!?!?!?!

    I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the picture?

    No, probably not!

  • Mr B J Mann

    “The original gunsmiths were barely aware of their products’ ultimate use.”

    So you’re saying the anti-gun/pro gun-control lobby is fatally “shooting itself in the foot” with its “only guns are designed to kill” mantra when the designers weren’t even aware they are supposed to be for killing?

    So you’ve got one thing right!

    Not like all those suckers who swallow the line that when a British Olympic pistol shooter (who can’t practice in the UK or buy a pistol here because they are illegal) goes to a foreign gunsmith for a custom job and they ask him what he’s after he tells them that what he’s after is gun “designed to kill”.

    Nor like all those morons who insist that when a British Clay Pigeon shooting champion goes to a gunsmith for a custom job and they ask him what he’s after he tells them that what he’s after is shotgun “designed to kill”.

    In fact, when an army quartermaster is after a new rifle, he thinks: now do I want something that will instantly kill any attacking soldiers our troops hit with it, so that their mates get really mad and wipe our lads out?

    Or do I want something that will generally only wound, so that, for every bullet that finds its target, half a dozen of the wounded attackers mates are tied up providing covering fire, getting them under cover, applying first aid, evacuating them, plus the drain on resources like rations, helicopters….

    I know, I’ll go for a gun that’s “designed to kill”.

    And ignore all those international conventions that ban the military from using them!!!!

  • PeterK10

    And who is going to control the guns in the United States? The federal government, of course. Although America invented the computer, its present federal government could not even create a Healthcare Website, yet teenagers create Websites with ease. Despite that, the anti-gun fanatics would eagerly give federal morons control of America’s guns!

    No thanks. American citizens need the Second Amendment to protect themselves from federal dolts and all the other evils abroad in the land.

  • Alphonso de Barbo

    I found this post on another site and agree totally!

    Christopher Duran Shooting: 14-Year-Old Boy Dies In Fatal Gang-Related Shooting
    #These are the tragic outcomes of America holding on doggedly to
    the 2nd Amendment. It’s citizens are too unevolved to be trusted with
    such a responsibility as the right to bear arms. The fact that the boy
    came from a questionable neighbourhood is irrelevant – we have the same
    situation here in my country (ghetto neighbourhoods) but our gun laws
    are so restrictive that the people cannot access firearms without
    rigorous vetting… and our police are respected. This boy did not deserve
    to die but America has chosen the society they want to live in – they
    deserve everything they get… and it will only get worse until they
    change/abolish the 2nd Amendment, like their very enlightened President
    Obama has attempted, unsuccessfully (unfortunately) to do…

    • J Smith

      1) “Get worse”??? US gun murder fell 65%, to the lowest levels in history, 1993-2014 as the number of guns in the US went from an estimated 300 million to 425 million. The number of people carrying guns as concealed carry holders quintupled in that period.

      2) Christopher Durham’s death was from the gun of a four time felon whose crimes should have had him in jail until 2038 had he served his full sentences.

      3) not one single thin proposed by Obama would have stopped any of the high profile shootings, nor that of Durham.

      4) 30 studies across the US show 90% of murder victims are criminals, 85% felons or persons with five or more arrests. If you are not a criminal, your risk of being a homicide victim in the US is in 2014 latest data, 0.34/100,000 — well below the developed democracy mean.

      • Alphonso de Barbo

        It only took one death for England to make its gun laws more restrictive, but then the world knows England is more cultured, enlightened, mature and sensible than fanatical Americans (it must be their pilgrim heritage). Americans have proved time and again that they are too irresponsible to own guns as ratified by the 2nd Amendment – the dumb cunts!

        • J Smith

          Well England has massive surveillance society because its citizens are not trusted by its government. Half your criminal justice system would be shredded by our ACLU and you would be up to ears in crime.
          And in the US if you are to a criminal you are 20% SAFER from homicide than the EU mean!

  • J Smith

    “..statistics prove that, wherever they proliferate, murder and suicide rise and children are killed”

    Only if you engage in the same specious and ignorant use of statistics as claiming going to hospital increases your risk of death.

    Firstly, you don’t compare massively different states to determine a single issue difference. Sober r people use similar states. In ALL same-region/same-demographic US state parings, for example Virginia and Maryland, those with more guns and less gun control all have way less murder and violent crime.

    Secondly US gun homicide rate has fallen 65%, to the lowest level in US history as gun sales skyrocketed.

    Thirdly, 2/3 of gun deaths, are suicide. We now know from Australia revision of it suicide stats, that gun control there had zero affect on overall suicide, it just shifted means:

    These studies have shown that ABS has seriously been under reporting the number of suicides. The Queensland study reported that this under reporting had increased during the period under study and that the under count negates any apparent decrease in suicide deaths shown in ABS statistics.
    aph.GOV.AU/~/media/wopapub/senate/committee/clac_ctte/completed_inquiries/2008_10/suicide/submissions/sub42_pdf.ashx

  • ToughStuff2012

    The article claims the NRA is a trade lobby, but less than 10% of their funding comes from weapons manufacturers. A majority of it is from membership fees and member driven fundraisers. I’m the NRA, basically.

    These are public figures – the NRA has to publish their tax forms every year and those reflect exactly where the money comes from.

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