My World

Shooting my mouth off...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Talking To A Brick Wall?

 

 

 

Seriously, I feel like this when a certain subject comes up.  A simmering HOT issue in the United States of America that I am passionate about is  that of Gun Control.  Strangely, I don’t know why but perhaps it’s because I have been there 3 times already.  Perhaps it’s because of all the lives lost needlessly and I like most Aussies look to America as our big brother/cousin when it comes to cultural reference points.  Perhaps it’s because many years ago I use to shoot at a shooting club where we shot at paper targets, just a little old .22calibre single shot bolt-action rifle.  Maybe, it’s all these things and more but this issue in the States right now, well…  Now, it’s not like I’m going to go back in a hurry, though I like to travel and it always seems comfortable to me when I’m there however let’s just say lest we win a lotto jackpot.  I will say this: given the images on our daily news broadcasts and on the internet these days, I am getting reluctant to set foot back in the place.

 

 

In discussing this issue I keep using Australia as the comparison, both countries are big in land mass but one is much smaller in population.  One has a reputation now for Gun-related Massacres, the other no longer has and hasn’t had since the late 90s.  We are similar in so many other aspects such as our common ancestors i.e. the British and the fact we share cultures, we’re both multicultural, relatively secular western democracies.  So, to my mind, we are as close as two nations can be, it has to be the free-flowing of guns in the States that is a big part of the problem there.  Notice I said ‘Big Part’, of course it’s not the whole problem, obviously.  I have written about it before in a previous post on this blog, see the link attached and read for a refresh.  However, it was after yet another mass shooting in the US, this time in San Bernardino, California that this was posted by a friend on Facebook. 

 

This is the same reason why in a public place i get so paranoid and scared. It's been awhile that I have been struggling with this kind of fear and I fight it through prayers. Each devotion time, I beg to God with tears to keep my family and loved ones safe. To keep the whole world safe. It is my prayer that this mass shootings will put to an end. I totally agree with Mr. Joel Douglas Clelland when he said

 that it's not the NRA or the Republican Party that is evil. And the article from usatoday.com is exactly my total sentiments that says unlike the president, regular citizens are not surrounded by armed secret service agents wherever they go. When we find ourselves under attack, no one is there to protect us. That responsibility is ours and ours alone. The American people — including law-abiding gun owners — are scared these days, and for good reason. As a nation, we sit helpless and watch as innocent and defenseless people are slaughtered. President Obama's response is not one of unity, but rather a condescending lecture that we need more laws to restrict us from defending ourselves. Enough is enough with the self-righteous and self-serving demagoguery.

 The NRA is calling on the president to stop exploiting tragedies to push his failed political agenda. It's shameful. Given the reality that he's unlikely to listen, however, we will continue to stand and fight for law-abiding gun owners who are both disgusted and heartbroken by these heinous acts — whether committed by madmen, gang members or terrorists. The NRA will neither accept the blame for the acts of murderers, nor apologize for fighting for our right to defend ourselves against them.

 

They included this picture and a link to an article

 

 

 

Now, they are classifying it as a ‘terror attack’ and we’re all concerned about Islamic Extremists and such evil, barbaric acts however you have to wonder whether classifying this one as a Terrorist attack rather than just another gun-related massacre is the right way to go.  Doesn’t it just obscure the truth i.e. Americas obsession with Guns.  Apparently not, the real reason is it has something to do with extra compensation if the authorities find the attack ‘terrorist inspired’… I mean, Really??!!  Just let victims access Victim of Crime compensation or don’t they have that in the US?   I’m not opposed to Guns on the whole, I’ve shot .22calibre and shotgun but I am opposed to ridiculously laxed national laws, the seemingly easy access to even heavier artillery and the misuse of them by too many. 

 

 

Now, far be it from me as a proud Australian to question Americas internal politics but when we see the nightly news or jump on the internet all we see sometimes is another massacre somewhere in the United States and each time leaves me wondering What The F…???!!!  Of course, this is followed by a bunch of people hashtagging #standby… or #prayfor…, as if that’s going to do any good, what’s needed is Action.  Perhaps I should just write it off as ‘Only In America’ just like we do when there’s a bombing in a place like Baghdad??  Sorry, but it’s true.

 

 

 

All I said in response to this person’s post then was this:

Hmm.. you might want to read this...

 

 

It’s an article I had read about how there’s been more mass shootings in America this year than there has been days so far.  Then I get this from another friend in the States:

 

Guns don't kill, people do!!! You can control all you want but people who wish to inflict harm will find a way, as they did in your country at the coffee shop! They don't always purchase them legally anyway. We need to ask ourselves why humanity is hell bent on inciting hatred and violence? We also need to do a better job with the mentally ill. It's easy to sit in judgement but the issue is a bit more complex than gun control!

 

Well, okay let’s look at all aspects of all these shootings like we look at car accidents etcetera… and yeah apparently it’s the first anniversary here of the #SydneySiege.   That is the Lindt Café siege/shooting in Martin Place, central Sydney not just your corner coffee shop.  Also, the third anniversary of Sandy Hook Elementary School where a bunch of kids were killed by another nutbag with guns.  What is the common denominator apart from being generally random and involving violence and multiple people killed?  What tool gave the killers/murderers/criminals/terrorists the ability to kill that many in as short a space of time??  One word on most of these occasions when talking about the US experience lately…. GUNS!!  The same tool keeps appearing over and over again, doesn’t it?? Come On, Be Honest…

 

 

 

Of course the original poster then piped up and added:

 

Well said…! I totally agree

 

Sorry friend, but actually it wasn’t that well written at all but the anger/fear behind it was clear.  Now, I should have realised what a slippery slope and hard slog this was going to be, to convince anyone so deeply entrenched in their position that they can’t see the forest for the trees.  However, I persisted in my self-appointed activist role and tried anyway.  Maybe I’m doing this from a little bit of an academic standpoint, as an interested third party and maybe I have recently found myself with time on my hands, news to watch and an internet to trawl.  At this point, I could say nothing and watch as another mass shooting erupts.  So, that’s when the debate started…

 

 

 

Wow … you really bought into the fear factor eh? I didn’t think that of you before... The facts speak for themselves.. in Australia we haven’t banned guns altogether just semi-autos and autos, those are the guns that normal people in a community should not have access to!! We have not had a massacre since the gun laws were tightened here. Yes, we have had a shooting or two but they're single shot events not mass murders..... So, u go out and buy more guns and practice hard cos that'll save you as much as praying or any such actions or standing by the people of (insert latest event)!!!!! I worked for a weapons licensing scheme and I use to mix with shooters years ago, I wouldnt trust most of em with high-powered firearms. So, yeah get background checks, thats a first step! Keep on Bowling for Columbine then... and you will keep having mass atrocities.

 

I pretty much put it out there didn’t I?? Now, I could have worded it better in hindsight but watch how every time this kind of discussion takes place the naysayers always mention the Second Amendment to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

 

I am not afraid, and I abhor weapons but I stand by the Second Amendment, the weapons that you mentioned should be outlawed, but I am not naive enough to believe that they can not be purchased illegally.

 

Okay, part of this sentence is fine and thanks for agreeing that these tools should be banned/controlled in theory but what happens in practice?  In practice what she’s really saying is it can’t happen because too many criminals would keep theirs and/or acquire more.  Just how did we move past that here in Australia?  I remember a gun buyback, an amnesty period, a new licence and registration process, strict enforcement and inspections of storage facilities i.e. installation of gun safes rather than the old gun under the pillow or in the back seat of a car and much more.  Would you like me to link to the Weapons Licensing sections of each State in Australia for more information?  To which I tried to address the issue of the Second Amendment first and talk about what a fallacy that is.

 

Wow the good ol Second Amendment which was written b4 u were born and at a time when guns were only single shot black powder things. Think about that for a moment.

 

 

 

I followed it with…

 

You know that you can have a rifle here, a shotgun too IF you have a background check, a secure storage such as a gun safe and a genuine reason. By genuine reason i mean you are a sporting shooter with membership of a club or access to a property where you can shoot safely. We havent banned all guns. We havent had a massacre since 1996 or something.

 

Now, I was expecting some sort of reluctant agreement at that point but the trail went cold.  Of course, it didn’t really go Cold more Cold War, the conversation just transferred at that point to other posts and there were many, much in the same vein, some posts have been edited in the meantime I notice.. It’s the beauty of both living in a democracy and Social Media at work?  You can have a debate with people – friends on the other side of the world or in this case other side of the Pacific about Gun Control, it isn’t always pleasant but it’s a debate pure and simple.  I really wanted to get to the point but there’s a lot of issues to peel away.  Like being told that I am ‘missing the point’ and it’s all too hard.  Really?  I reckon I hit the nail on the head in my responses so far… Oh well ;)

 

The debate with this individual died of natural causes eventually but not one to see a single breath and not call it life, I tried to re-engage the original poster with some statistics and a long reply addressing their concerns and statement.  You see, I know that the individual concerned is originally from the same place as my partner and their region, their homeland has problems too so…this is what I said.

 

Hi …if you look at the stats Philippines has a higher rate of gun deaths than the US. So you should feel less fear in America? How much more if you were to come to the land 'Down Under'? Of course, your homeland is a 'developing country' and most of the gun-related deaths in Philippines are probably to do with the separatists in Mindanao and Zamboanga and yeah, lax national gun control. Hey, i got to shoot a .45 handgun and was offered a chance to handle an M16 when i visited Philippines last time and that wasnt even at a shooting range. I shot a .22 rifle too but i use to be use to that as my old man worked for a gun club many moons ago. As a farmer once explained to me if you cant shoot a feral animal with a single shot then you're not doing it right. What other reasons do you need such high-powered multiple-round weapons of mass destruction?? If your average mass murderer had less access to firearms because of licensing and registration then maybe they'd go with a knife or a baseball bat, Nah, that'd take balls!! So, what's the lowest common denominator in all this? Think about it, given Australias very low gun homicide rate... we have to name it and shame it! Guns, especially handguns and machine guns/assault rifles should not be in the hands of ordinary untrained folk IMHO. When they are too freely available they tend to be a problem for those same untrained ordinary folk. Here in Australia we have similar other issues to deal with as the US, mental health, drug use, bikie gangs, etc... but what we dont have a lot of is, guns on the street!! It's that simple.. more guns on the street means more bad guys with guns. If you want to talk about Switzerland then they have national service, their people are trained to handle firearms properly and i dont believe you would see guns in the hands of kids there or on the streets. The laws cant be state by state they need to be Federal and enforced. What do we do here when there's a gun-related death, we ask how did they get the gun as well as what other factors lead to this???!!! Now, what does our cousins in the United States do? Talk about Rights but no Responsibility, that's what!

 

Then there was this graph to support my argument. well, i like to be a little scientific.  Plus I believe in the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle and this graph maps it out pretty simply. 

 

 

Of course there are people here in Australia that are not happy with the current state of play i.e. they feel the government took away their firearms and for what.  I must say I think they are at the fringe of the Aussie landscape, it’s been almost 20 years since the gun laws here were changed/amended and I think they just want to shoot someone….  Given that drugs, alcohol and domestic violence are a factor here as in the US I don’t want Guns in that mix. 

 

Much later, another voice was to join the fray on the side of arming ordinary citizens in America, this time a much more powerful to-and-fro debate happened and this is with someone who is a friend of the original poster.

 

Australia used a "buy back" program, I believe.. Did the criminals "sell" their guns to the government? If you look at Australia's stats on violent crime, you will see that it has gone up since the gun ban.

I'm not in any way criticizing Australia, but you must remember that the USA is almost 15x the size of your population. Assault rifles aren't a problem when owned by responsible people. It's the finger on the trigger, not the trigger that causes injury or death. Bad people can always find a way to cause havoc and death. A bomb, a car, a knife or an airplane can do the same thing...

There are evil people out there. It's not the responsible gun owner that I fear. It's the criminal or jihadist that I want to be able to stop dead in their tracks.

 

 

To which I quite earnestly replied:

 

they probably did, i would imagine there were cases of that, along with an amnesty period and it doesn’t seem to have done us much damage though as that was back in 1996. Think how different the world was back in 1996 and our population has grown since then. So, 1 would expect some rise in certain crimes with a growing population, truth is: we havent had a massacre here since. Full Stop. We still have crime but still a much lower rate per capita than you guys although we'd probably be statistically closer if it wasnt for all these gun massacres over there. We had quite a few massacres before but it was 1 that changed the thinking and lead the government of the day to say 'enough is enough'! Hmm.. when was the US's last massacre??? Last week, Yesterday??!! By the way, we have since been going thru an 'ice epidemic', deinstitutionalisation of mental illness, rising homelessness etc... just as in the US. Difference is much less access to the sorts of weapons you guys advocate for. You're right though, there is evil people out there all around the world not just in the good old U S of A and the fact is, it was a conservative government here that changed the laws, one of the most conservative in fact. Lets call them something between the Tea Party and the Republicans. You say that America is 15 times bigger in population, still your chances of crime would be way lower with less weapons in general circulation, especially in the hands of those less desirable e.g. those on any terror watch list. The problem with lax gun control and leaving it in the hands of the individual states is that people move across state lines, kids get access before even knowing what they can do. You get the worst of the worst when guns can be sold at private sales without the checks and balances. I believe bombs are totally illegal and rightly so whereas cars are legal but cars are licensed and registered and drivers get tested on them and randomly stopped for breath testing, drug testing etc.... I dont think you can strike too many too rapidly when only armed with a knife so lets leave the silly debate points behind eh? I have seen the same lines written in commentary and social media from a portion of your people. I know i am an Aussie and proud of it but dont for 1 minute think that I am not aware of the difference as i have been to the States three times, i hasten to mention that i have also been to the Philippines 3 times as well. The simple fact is that a tool whose sole purpose is to kill is soo freely available in the US and Philippines, that is why you have such a high death rate as in the graph above. The US is a developed nation and leads the world on other issues why not this?? Oh, that's right it does lead the developed world in gun homicides, funny that! Are you seriously going to look for small flaws in our system to justify the profits of the arms manufacturers in your own country and keep the NRA paying millions to politicians to keep its control over the populace? They are speaking with blood on their hands IMO. This is the 3rd anniversary of Sandy Hook when a number of kids were killed by yet another nutbag with a gun. You say, 'Guns dont kill people, people kill people' well i've met quite a number of people with guns and i wouldnt trust em to protect themselves let alone protect me. These were supposedly 'responsible gun owners' at that time. No, i leave that to professionals i.e. our Police services. Heres an idea, Why don't you come visit and check out how much safer we are here?? Nah, we are not a police state or communist country just a regular ally and civilised society where we think no man is an island. By this i mean that we talk about 'rights' but also 'responsibility'. In fact, we call ourselves a bit of a 'nanny state' in a joking fashion, well we have to protect our people as you point out due to our small population. Cheers

 

Obviously this got up the nose of the pro-gun poster…

 

This has turned into a "we are better than you" dialogue... I'm not buying it.. After 20 years as a cop in one of the most violent cities in America, I feel qualified to speak on this topic. Perhaps a bit more qualified than you to comment on violent assaults with guns, knives or cars. It's NOT the weapon, it's the person using it and their intent. How would you categorize the assailants in the mass shootings you are referring to? Were they "responsible" people? Could they have as an alternative driven a car into a crowd of people in their moments of insanity? People would still be dead. Would you propose stricter car ownership laws?

You have dismissed my examples of bombs, cars and knives as being "silly", huh? You have experience in this area? Please elaborate.

You are trying to claim that since bombs are "illegal" and cars are registered and licensed that they are invalid points to consider in this debate?

If it's ok for you, I'll own as many weapons as I choose to own. I will not hesitate to use them to protect myself and family. If you choose to embrace the "civilized" gun-free approach, that's fine. How do you feel about the possibility of Islamic terror attacks there? Can your police and government officials protect you? When you start experiencing such attacks there (they are coming), will you still feel so safe? I wonder..

 

Oh well, what can I say, I did try to be balanced and address the issues…

 

Funny isn't it to an American hearing that 'we are better than you'? But that's not what i was saying, i say we're different yet from basically the same stock... British stock back in our countries histories. The English, oh yeah theres another example of strict gun laws and low gun crime and they have had terror attacks but you would know that eh? I have much respect for men/women in blue and you are right i have not been a 'copper' however i have not only worked for police in administering the weapons licensing laws here but i have studied this field in a little detail and yeah, i have a Bachelors in Justice Admin majoring in Criminal Justice Research and Policing. So, you chose the right person to debate here... Lucky you, You would know that investigations into criminal acts look at all the factors such as with cars i.e the driver, the vehicle and the road conditions and i ignore nothing. However, there is still one common lowest denominator in all these massacres... The nutbag and his precious firearms. Take those precious firearms away and we have a safer society generally. How about all those domestic murders that are probably only committed because of heightened emotion and a Gun? You would have seen many of those wouldnt you? Please tell me what an ordinary person who is not trained need with 100s of rounds of ammo and a shitload of firearms??? The fact they can buy those either legally or illegally says much about the fear you are being sold by big corporations etc... Hey, go ahead and own as many of those as you like, apparently its all in your Second Amendment which we like most other places dont have. Your Second Amendment was written at a time when firearms were single shot black powder things not Uzis and the modern assault rifles whose only design is to kill as many in a short space of time. All i'm saying is that you guys are doomed to follow what has come before or worse. As for terror attacks, in all the vision of 9/11 i didnt see any responsible gun owners shooting down the planes before they hit the buildings, did you?? Couldnt have stopped that even with all your assault rifles. Sad eh?

 

I even used friendly little emoticons where appropriate but he either wasn’t seeing it or wasn’t really reading…

 

Thanks for the debate. No sense arguing the point any further with someone who thinks they are right and I am wrong. Glad you have some clerical experience in the area. My experience was real. Bullets flying, blood and screaming, people dying kind of stuff. You're infinitely more qualified on the topic, I guess... You've read books about it.

 

Now that’s one way to attempt to extricate yourself from a free-wheeling debate which I thought was going so well, oh dear that’s a real put-down mate.  I’m offended by the thought that you can so readily reject the stats and comments I have provided.   Notice that I did give you the respect you deserve for doing a job of protecting people with the law on your side. You so readily put me down on the basis that I’ve studied it, read about it, have dealt with gun owners and as I mentioned previously been a member of a gun club albeit when I was younger.  No, seriously I’m not offended because I see it for what it is, an attempt to shut down the debate due to the fact you don’t like where it’s going.

 

 

But then he had the gall to post this cartoon, showing a situation that even the poster couldn’t get out of??!!  Unless he is Superman, Batman, Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Jackie Chan all wrapped in 1.  Maybe even a little Steven Seagal.  Up there, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, NO It’s just ridiculous to say that someone having a gun in your back better watch out when you’re packing heat!  FFS r u serious??!!  This from an ex-cop with so much experience seeing bullets flying… think he might be dealing with a touch of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

 

So, I had to say something didn’t I?  Again, I think I raise some good points here…

 

Yeah thanx for the debate, sorry i only got this this morning as our time zones are different and real life intervened. I mean sleep and i slept pretty soundly. Speaking of real life, i have no doubt that you as an officer would have seen 'bullets flying' i'm sure you saw plenty but there again is my point, you were in America, the land of free access to guns. I have friends who are cops here in Australia and not one of them would advise ordinary people to go out and get a gun. I'm surprised that more cops aint shooting more people at traffic stops over there, i would if i thought they were as heavily armed as you seem to want the general populace to be. So, keep on Bowling For Columbine while we sit back and say 'Only in America'! Please dont bother broadcasting the next gun massacre through your media, we'll just resign ourselves to the fact that it will happen. Life is not a 'die hard' movie but you guys make it that way with all your claims to the second amendment and all the rapid-fire guns. Since when did a disciplined militia become heavily armed untrained general populace?? As for your cartoon, r you saying that someone who is armed could not have a gun stuck in their back and robbed of their wallet?? As a cop wouldnt you have told the person to play it safe and give the crook the wallet?? They say 'the proof is in the eating' well, i know where i'd rather be. Quite happily eating from the relative safety cake of a country with strict gun control. As i am now an Education Agent which is i deal with prospective student from the Philippines, i strongly believe that it is a selling point for students and their families to come to a country like Australia because of our relatively low crime rate despite the rises you mentioned earlier, there is a reason for this IMO and that is less access to guns for all! What is your solution oh great liver of real life? All citizens/non-citizens to have automatic weapons, what then? RPG's, Surface-to-air misssiles where does it end? Doom, thats what i reckon but good luck with it especially with the next Republican in the White House! Cheers

 

 

Then he brings out the big guns, by the way when you say to someone something about bring out the guns here in Australia they roll up their sleeves and show you their arm muscles.  Anyway he was telling me I have been on the attack since the first and that I’m full of myself, that last bit might be a little true.  Actually, I wasn’t on the attack initially I simply posted an article in response to another’s article.  I am getting sick of seeing massacres on television and the internet and feeling like nobody is saying anything because some are so scared of their own ugly shadow and a system they’ve let happen.

 

You are definitely too full of yourself. Don't worry, America will there to bail you out if you need help in the future. ISIS is coming, and your people are unarmed. And you feel safer than me??? And for the record, your "arming all citizens and non-citizens" comments came out of your mouth, not mine. I have made no mention of any of the nonsensical things you have mentioned. You are fabricating responses to points I never made!

Yes, I ha definitely am speaking from experience. You have been on the attack since my first comment. Your experience is merely academic, so please excuse me if I dismiss your line of bullsh*t so readily. The many Australians that I am friends here do not share your point of view regarding the safety and security of life in your country.

 

 

Firstly, as for America bailing us out if we ever need it then that maybe true but I would say that we have been a staunch ally of theirs for many years and so I would expect this to be the case.  I think we have to look back through modern history to see how that progressed.  I mean, this is a country that took its sweet time to enter both WWI and WWII.  In WWII it took the bombing of Pearl Harbour to make them enter the fray.  A fray that had been going on for a number of years to the point where their allies were pretty much spent.  They came in all guns blazing and saved the world, isn’t that the story we’re fed whenever we watch these movies.  Again, life/history is not like in the movies so please stop thinking you did the world any great favours there.  Any ‘bail out’ by the Americans however will not happen with just ordinary untrained folk armed to the teeth will it???  No, if America has to come to our rescue it would do so with the armed forces i.e. people who are properly trained. 

 

Like I said, you can’t please everyone, if you can’t get them to agree on this when the evidence is as plain as the nose on your face then how the heck are you going to sort out the ‘bigger issues’?? Good luck with Climate Change etcetera then. It is true that there’s always going to be naysayers, the things he is saying are straight from the NRA/Republican playbook.  So, I kept trying to chip away…

 

There’s another strange statement coming from you guys over the pacific... too full of myself.? Hmm... Nutbags like ISIS are everywhere man but here they have a much longer way to travel and less guns to access. The most our terrorists are doing is shooting one guy walking out of his workplace, yeah very strange for us I know. Who's feeling unsafe, you knowing that the bloke next door might have more firearms than you or me thinking the guy next door and the guy next to him has no guns as well? Good luck and we shall see what comes next. When will the next massacre in the States be? Good ol US of A come to bail others out, that's a bit of a laugh really cos they can’t even save themselves from the mire that is their political and gun debate. We've had the gun debate years ago and same excuses were raised then, time has past and still not a massacre! End of story. As for those Aussies you speak of that agree with you, could this b a case of 'birds of a feather flocking together'? Academic 'bullshit' or not I am not the only one who sees the problems your homeland has, i'm pretty sure you have people on the front line who would agree, in fact i've read plenty of commentary from both sides, for what they are but hey we live in active democracies we can agree to disagree, no harm done. Just leave your guns at the door and stay safe in this Silly Season.

 

These last two posts were edited after the other responded so what I’ve copied here is the final to this point.  After this he did wish me ‘a Nice Day’ to which I replied ‘You Too’.  Now, this part of the debate was held with someone who was an officer of the law in the US.  On his profile it states he now resides in the Philippines.  Another country with the sort of lax gun laws he obviously likes.  I worry when officers/ex-officers are telling ordinary folk it’s okay go out and get a gun and have some target practice.  That’s not something our law enforcement community would or should be doing.  Then again, there was a judge in America making the same claims, those who are worried about these latest attacks should go out and get a gun.  A Judge, mind you she is a member of the NRA, Americas biggest lobby group it seems and they are paying millions to politicians there.  Bring back Judge Judy, I say.  

 

Following the earlier interaction with a friend from the States, my alter-ego and professional side i.e. the Australian education agent with an office in Philippines saw the positive in all this carnage.  So, through our professional Facebook Page I wrote this as a way of selling prospective students on the idea of coming to Australia as it’s a safer environment…

 

The following is a message regarding safety in Australia, we here at …. Education Agency believe safety is a selling point for those looking where to study, live and work abroad. After yet another mass shooting in the United States I had a friendly debate with some Americans online regarding the issue of gun control. The debate started when an individual originally from the Philippines stated that she was in fear in the States because of the number, frequency and randomness of gun-related violence. Strangely, if you look at the statistics Philippines has a higher rate of gun deaths per 100,000 in population than the US. So, my initial theory was she should feel less fear in America? My next question was: How much less fear would you have if you were to come to the land 'Down Under'?

 

Of course, I am cognisant that your homeland is a 'developing country' and a lot of the gun-related deaths in Philippines are probably to do with the separatists in Mindanao and Zamboanga and yeah, lax national gun control. A prime example of this is that as a visitor i got to shoot a .45 handgun and was offered a chance to handle an M16 when i visited Philippines last time and that wasn’t even at an approved shooting range. I shot a .22 rifle too on that occasion but i use to be all right with that as my father worked for a gun club many moons ago. A wise farmer once explained to me if you can’t shoot a feral animal with a single shot then you're not doing it right.

 

Now, what possible other reasons do you need such high-powered multiple-round weapons of mass destruction?? The usual reply is ‘self-protection’ so, let’s think about that for a moment. If your average criminal/mass murderer has access to these then you are going to have to go Bigger aren’t you? They’re still going to kill and injure a lot and then there’s the issue of those killed in cross-fire. However, if same offender had less ready access to firearms because of strict national licensing, registration and enforcement then maybe they'd go with a knife or a baseball bat. How many could they take out then on a college campus or in a movie theatre? Nah, that'd take balls and most of these guys are cowards!! So, what's the lowest common denominator in all this? Think about it, look at Australia’s very low gun homicide rate... That’s why we have to name it and shame it! In Australia we just shake our heads now every time there’s a massacre in America and wonder “what the heck is going on over there?!” It’s becoming such an everyday thing that we just see it as ‘Only in America’!

 

Firearms, especially handguns and machine guns/assault rifles should not be in the hands of ordinary untrained folk IMHO. Leave them to the army or special units of the police. When they are too freely available they tend to be a problem for those same untrained ordinary folk. Training is not just banging away at a shooting range it includes a lot of discipline drills and safety procedures. If you want to shoot the bigger weapons then join the army, I say! Besides, i've not heard of anyone with a gun, I mean one of those ordinary gun holders stopping these gun massacres, usually they hide away in the corner somewhere and call the proper authorities to deal with it. Crikey, that’s how things work in other places why would America be the odd one out and believe otherwise.

 

Yes prospective students, here in Australia we have similar other issues to deal with as the US, socioeconomic factors, mental health, drug use, bikie gangs, and yeah even the odd terrorist attack etc... What we don’t have a lot of is, guns on the street!! It's that simple, more guns on the street means more bad guys with guns. If you want to talk about Switzerland with it’s high gun ownership then the fact is they have national service, their people are trained to handle firearms properly and i don’t believe you would see guns in the hands of kids there or on the streets. In Australia, we know that the laws can’t be state by state they need to be Federal and strictly enforced. So, what do we do here when there's a gun-related death, we ask how did they get the gun as well as what other factors lead to this event???!!! Now, what do our cousins in the United States say? They talk about ‘Rights’ but I don’t hear too many mention the word ‘Responsibility’, that's what!

 

They will simply call upon the good old Second Amendment argument and say that defending oneself is written into their Constitution. However, it is argued that this Amendment was written before the people who espouse it were even born and at a time when guns were only single shot black powder things. You know those slow-to-load and cumbersome type firearms you see in re-enactments. Let’s see how many massacres there would be with those type of weapons in the hand of an individual. Think about that for a moment, so perhaps it’s time to update or even amend the Amendment. Now we are not talking about a total gun ban, that didn’t happen here in Australia, you can have a rifle, a shotgun too IF you have a background check, a secure storage facility such as a gun safe, firearm safety training and a genuine reason. By genuine reason i mean you are a sporting shooter with membership of a shooting club or access to a property of a good size where you can shoot safely. The fact is: We haven’t banned all guns and we haven’t had a massacre since 1996 or something.

 

For a time, I worked for a state body administering the weapons licensing scheme and as mentioned previously my father worked at a gun club years prior so I use to mix with sporting/recreational shooters. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust most of them with high-powered firearms, especially if you add alcohol, other drugs and even a domestic disturbance or just having a bad day. So, yeah get background checks done on all new purchases, that’s a proper first step! We had a gun buyback scheme and an amnesty period following for possession of certain categories. As you could imagine there was strong protest and a lot of heated debate but, in the end you just see it as part of living in a decent society that follows the rule of law and it certainly cut the fear factor down to a more manageable level.

 

Those opposite in the debate argued that they had more serious problems and so gun control was not the issue. Sorry, what is this more serious threat you speak of?? Is it mental illness in the community, terrorist attacks, sovereign citizens and others who don’t respect the law??? I think we have those here but they are more controlled and don’t have easy access to the sorts of firearms that are constantly mentioned in news reports coming from the States. When I say ‘sorts of firearms’ I mean handguns, semi-autos and automatic assault rifles. These are implements whose sole design is to kill in volume not just one or two! As for terrorism, I thought America had a War on Terror for that?? I admit gun control will not stop entirely homicide by firearm but it will reduce the effectiveness of mass murderers trying to hit as many in a short time. It’s got to be implemented properly and we are talking here about gun control not gun ban. Wouldn’t you say that with much less guns in the hands of people who haven’t had background checks and a reduction in the types of weapons that are now available that these massacres would be massively reduced. Surely, that would be a place to be proud of and feeling safer yeah???

 

Yes, it is a complex situation they are right, made more complex by the volume of automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles freely available in ever-increasing numbers. Please do not get caught up with the NRA, the Republicans and their biggest supporters, the arms manufacturers/profiteers. I see them as the evil ones promoting more of the same atrocities and unnecessary carnage. That’s where the responsibility for Americas troubles should be pinned to, it would be a good start. There have been murders by gun here in Australia and in other countries with gun control but you are talking about single events in these places over how many years. Compare this to the good old US of A and its gun massacres seemingly now everyday. Maybe, instead of holding on to the old Second Amendment which was written when guns were single shot, you guys should just migrate to a relatively safe country like Australia and leave your guns and those other gun-nuts to their own??

 

In April 1996, a lone gunman entered the historic Port Arthur tourist site in Tasmania and shot dead 20 innocent people in the first 90 seconds. That gunman went on to murder a total of 35 people. We had had a series of events in several locations over a number of years leading up to that. Overnight Prime Minister John Howard took action. He knew such an atrocity must never happen again in our country - and it hasn't happened since. I didn’t necessarily agree with that PM on much but he stood strong and gathered the state Premiers and general population to go along with him. The facts speak for themselves, in Australia we haven’t banned guns altogether just heavily restricted the access to handguns, semi-automatic and automatic firearms. We have not had a massacre since the gun laws were tightened here. In a recent video interview i saw shared on Facebook our college/university students couldn’t remember the last gun massacre here in Australia. I’m sure students in America can, in the video they named quite a few like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Aurora and more recently San Bernardino. Yes, we have had a shooting or two but they're single shot events not mass murders.

 

 The friendly debate online ceased with stalemate, perhaps a ceasefire would be more appropriate! It has become obvious to me from this that our big cousins across the Pacific are too far gone when it comes to guns, recognition of the danger at hand and the fear factor. Such a shame but the plain truth is that there are just too many guns among their population now and the culture of individual rights even at the expense of others is so in-grained that there is sure to be more of the same. So, let them go out and buy more guns and practice harder because that'll save them as much as praying or any other such actions i.e. standing by the people of (insert latest event)!!!!! Being cynical, i would say "Keep on Bowling for Columbine then... and you will keep having mass atrocities". Far be it from me, as an Australian to criticise and so I am turning all this into a positive. The positive for me as an education agent is that students coming to Australia will feel much safer and that’s good for our educational institutions, which are already world class and internationally recognised.

 

Oh well, just to throw a snowball into the fire, apparently that’s how you prove a point, have a look at this article which I also shared on Facebook and tagged some friends with a reference to a previous trip to Europe….

 

 

All I can say now is that the internet is awash with the pros and cons of gun control and here are just some more images to get you thinking facts.  Yes, statistics can be fudged but think about the numbers as individual human beings and you will see a pattern.  A pattern that is at the heart of all this…. Guns and lax national controls.  Of course we want to talk about violence more generally…hmm, I can see the formations of another blog post coming up….  Stay Tuned.

 

 

PS.  Now I have since had a chat with some more reasonable Americans about this, i.e those who are now living here and they tell me I should just give up, my partner tells me pretty much the same.  I shared another diagram and the following is part of another chat that I had with yet another friend who now lives here in Australia:

 

 

 

Tell me it aint true.. what are they defining as a 'mass shooting' with this diagram? Is it 4 and over dead, that's what i heard was the measurement now.

 

This was my friend’s reply:

 

I heard it had to be 3 dead but I could be wrong or maybe they changed it. It's really a load of bs because if several people are shot and don't die it is STILL a mass shooting. I sure am glad I don't live there anymore.

 

That they even have a measurement for this stuff should be shocking but as it happens so often its good to classify it I suppose.

 

Thank you… it's just some were saying 4 including the shooter so maybe u r right. However, talking to people in the States is like talking to a brick wall, you wont ever convince em that the path they're on seems to be the wrong one. The US leads the developed world in gun-related homicides. What's with the East Coast in this diagram?? I even had an ex-cop from the US tell me i was wrong in my thinking and too full of myself?! I didn't take it personally, i saw it for what it was. Whether you classify all these as 'terrorist attacks' or 'mass shootings' is just a way of disguising the truth. National Gun Control works, they have a clear example here in Australia. Since 1996 - No Massacres. That's a lot of lives saved, dont you think? Far be it from me to point this out though.

 

To say the conversation went on would be an understatement…

 

I totally agree. I don't even bother trying to debate with those sort. I just try to stay away from them!  The country is pretty divided with plenty of people like me who would love to see gun control but you don't hear as much about them because the gun nuts are so loud and distracting!

 

I had not long finished talking to another lady originally from the States and so I couldn’t help but share…

 

Yeah i recently spoke to an American girl who's living here now and she said the same. In fact, she comes from Florida and she doesnt want to go back cos of this and the rise of Trump. She said her dad was a Republican and she told him if he voted for Trump she would never go back... pretty serious when households are divided, i can just imagine what the country is like now.

 

To which:

 

That would be very difficult in your own family. I have lost friends because of my beliefs. Their choice,not mine. I just find the whole thing very sad that there seems to be so little concern for human life.

 

Maybe, if it hit them more in the hip-pocket such as tourism industry were affected:

 

I saw something on Pinterest about it affecting tourism and someone suggested a ban on travelling to the US out of fear of getting shot. Now, that's a bit extreme but i cant blame them for thinking it. I wonder how Americans would feel about that??

 

Well, it was a bit extreme to my mind:

 

They would probably think that was an overreaction (at this point anyway) The chances of being in a mass shooting are pretty small for someone on holiday but there are definitely some very dangerous areas that you want to stay far away from because of the drug and gang activity.

 

The rest of the conversation was much like this, only about crime in general and the safe places to stay:

 

Is one of those areas the street that runs between Fremont Street and the Strip in Las Vegas cos i been there very late in the night walking with a friend many moons ago now? He said if i hear a bang then i have to hit the ground, i was imagining the headlines had i been caught up in something like that. Statistically speaking u r right but the news makes it look so bad!

 

 

When it came to finish typing this post for the blog before submitting it a Facebook post was shared from a page purporting to be concerning Australians exposing the truth about Islam.  Just another area of interest to me.  The post seemed like a warning to gun-loving Americans about a new bill that was being put through US Congress.  Now, why would they do that from that particular page???  These are fellow Australians who have had gun control laws since about 1996 and we have had no Massacres??? 

 

Well, they almost lost me on this one, sorry fellas I did the only thing I can really do on Social Media and ‘un-followed’ that page.  However, I changed my approach and decided to engage with the person controlling the page.  Apparently, once questioned, it turns out he couldn’t agree with me more about Gun Control, he was simply putting it up as a comparison to what we’re dealing with here.  The article makes for rather disturbing reading, the comments following made me really shake my head in disbelief and it links to a lot of other stuff in the same vein.   Well, I know I have time on my hands but I’m not going to argue with all of them.  Most of them sound like their the heavily armed defenders of the NRA and Republican Party/Tea Party. 

 

 

 

Given that US Congress is soo firmly with the Republicans at this time the bill has snowballs chance of getting through but still you could hear the fear from the other side.  The fear and suspicion that some elected representative wants to somehow dare to take their guns.   Now, it’s worth pointing out that some of these guns are used for Hunting, apparently it’s a sport and its not necessarily to reduce feral pests but to further kill some of the worlds endangered species.  We know what happened to the American Dentist who shot Cecil the Lion illegally.  Hopefully, public shame IMHO. You want to give them guns/more guns???  Some of the comments made me realise just how much this issue is dividing not just the US but us.  My question is: How can trying to control the use of a tool designed for killing be soooo Fricken divisive???  All that’s left to say is:  I see Humans but not much Humanity.  I see people talking about Rights but no Responsibility.

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Geoff | Reply 13.01.2016 20.31

All so true, wouldn't surprise me if a lot of US are anti-gun, but too scared to speak out and be labelled the lunatic fringe by the gun lobby.

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