OFF: guns debate

Jonathan Jarrett jjarrett at CHIARK.GREENEND.ORG.UK
Tue Nov 21 18:58:10 EST 2006

On Fri, Nov 17, 2006 at 08:05:39AM -0500, Martin Hutchby typed out:


> Just think of the amount of idiots that get a driving licence - you want to  
> trust them to make split second decisions to use a firearm correctly and in  
> accordance with prevailing legislation ?????
> And out of interest, what sort of "training qualification" would be  
> appropriate......I don't think there are many judgemental simulators in the  public 
> domain which would allow for scenario training; let alone people  qualified to 
> impart the rationale behind the whole judgemental process of  whether to shoot 
> or not.

	Speaking as someone who was handling firearms, albeit under 
proper supervision, at age 15, and got reasonably good at target 
shooting with what had once been been a standard issue military weapon, 
I have an opinion or two on this, though they aren't the same as 
Mike's. All the same, there is training possible for this sort of thing. 
The first and foremost thing is to inculcate the awareness of what the 
effect of the weapon actually is. I started on target rifles whose tiny 
bullets were, my teacher told us, more likely to give you lead poisoning 
than a serious injury, as long of course as they were kept away from the 
face, when all bets were off. But just for effect setting up a pineapple 
or something like that and putting a bullet through it will make your 
impression for you. For anyone who's safe to be handling firearms that 
ought to be an object lesson; these things are, as Skynyrd observed, 
made for killing.

	The other thing, which Mike and every red-blooded gun-carrying 
American would object to as it seriously weakens the self-defence 
arguments, is that the best way to avoid accidents is to keep ammunition 
and weapon separately, as is law in Britain for those who do have 
firearms licenses of the sort that *don't* permit you to carry concealed 
weapons. A friend of mine who mails out wacky news items has stopped 
carrying the ones where people shoot themselves by accident because they 
were keeping a loaded gun under their pillow or similar--there are just 
too many cases. A British gun license is only issued when the locked 
cabinet that you're going to keep the weapon in, and the other separate 
one that you're going to keep the ammo in, have been inspected 
officially. No application to Mike's desired concealed carry, of course, 
and not much cop for home defence; but beyond this, simple military 
habits about clearing your weapon before carrying and after use, and 
checking even when you know perfectly well it's clear, could go a long 

	After all, they do in the US make you take a reasonably minimal 
amount of training when you take charge of what is currently the UK's 
most popular killing weapon, the car; I can't help but wonder why similar 
regulations don't apply to guns. Just the habit of properly clearing a 
weapon, and perhaps some bloody target practice, and you have to wonder 
whether the US's gun problem would look so serious. I wonder just how 
much of that problem is that the US doesn't take guns that seriously.

> I know this isn't the forum for this debate but I cannot believe this is  
> even a serious consideration.

	I don't, I have to admit, see what the change in circumstances 
is that's so massive as to require a rethink of the UK's current 
regulations. That ssumes of course that one considers them basically 
well-intentioned, which is where Mike and I might differ. But I consider 
myself an experienced firearms user, and I wouldn't like to say that the 
populace would be safer if I carried a concealed pistol. The thought of 
people, even people with the best of intentions, without that experience 
doing so makes me decidedly uncomfortable. Yours,

ObLP: Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band - _Lick My Decals Off Baby_
"When fortune wanes, of what assistance are quantities of elephants?"
	    (Juvaini, Afghan Muslim chronicler, c. 1206)
 Jon Jarrett, Fitzwilliam Museum, jjarrett at

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