Observations of an Expat: Bang!

February 23, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , United States

Lorie Shaull photo

 

By

Tom Arms

 

 

 

The answer to American gun crime is…. More guns.

 

At least according to Donald Trump and the NRA. In the wake of the Parkland Florida shooting they want teachers to carry guns. But why stop there? America’s clergymen – and women—could strap on shoulder holsters.

 

How about scout leaders? They would look really macho with a pair of pearl-handlers dangling from their hips.

 

Trump’s latest daft answer to a problem is unsurprising. Every time he faces a problem involving force his knee-jerk reaction is to respond with more force or—at the very least—the threat of more force. North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, ISIS and now gun crime. Such a reaction does not solve the problem, it only insures that it keeps spiralling downwards, which is why the National Rifle Association was an early advocate of gun control in America.

 

The year was 1934 when the US federal government moved to ban the gangland weapon of choice—the sawn off shotgun. Karl Frederick, who was then president of the NRA, was called upon to testify. He told a congressional hearing: “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuousness of the toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

 

NRA support was crucial in the passage of the first gun control law. But, as you would expect, the law was challenged by gun enthusiasts citing the Second Amendment. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, where, in 1938, it was upheld.

 

The Justices said that ownership of guns was protected only in the context of the need to maintain “a well regulated militia.” The Founding Fathers did not mean it to be a catch-all right for every individual.

 

It was this thinking that led to the creation of the NRA in 1871. The Civil War had just ended. The soldiers had returned home and the federal army was reduced to 30,000 enlisted men and 2,100 officers.  If there was another war then the ranks would again have to be filled from the civilian population. So Civil War general Ambrose Burnside set up the NRA to teach marksmanship. No other reason.

 

The 1934 Gun Control Act was its first foray into politics and in 1968 it made another contribution when the gun control regulations were extended in the wake of the deaths of President Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. By then the focus of the NRA had shifted from marksmanship to teaching gun safety.

 

But the 1968 law split gun enthusiasts, many of whom felt it was the start of a slippery slope towards the abolition of guns altogether. At a crucial meeting in 1975 they voted out the old guard and elected Harlon Carter as president. He was wholeheartedly opposed to any gun control legislation, established and financed the NRA’s political action committee and started the NRA on its course of guns for all at any price. In 2008 the Supreme Court effectively reversed the 1934 decision in a case involving handguns in Washington DC. It said that the constitution protected the individual’s right to bear arms. It ignored the amendment’s references to “a well regulated militia”.

 

The power of the NRA—backed up by the US Supreme Court—made it almost impossible to pass any meaningful gun control laws at the federal level. But there are restrictions at state level, especially in those states that have suffered horrific mass shootings.

 

In 2012, twenty children and six teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  The Connecticut state legislature almost immediately passed some of the toughest state gun laws in America. Within a year gun-related homicides in Connecticut dropped by 40 percent.

 

Florida has some of the loosest gun laws in America.  The state government has issued more concealed weapon permits—1.7 million—than any other state. It is a felony for a person to keep a register or list of any kind of gun owners so the state doesn’t know how many guns there are or who owns them. In 2016 a total of 927 people were killed by guns in Florida—500 percent more than in Connecticut.

 

Florida has more sunshine, but you have to be alive to enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

Tom Arms is the editor of LookAheadnews.com. Sign up now for the weekly diary of world news events.

 

LookAhead Radio World Report for week commencing 26 February 2018:

 

 

Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and emailtom.arms@lookaheadnews.com.

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