This week I have mostly been getting annoyed … (part 1)

This week I have mostly ..

This week I have mostly ..

Ok, so a bit of a reference to Mark Williams’ brilliant character, Jesse, from The Fast Show (mainly because it suited the title and people in work have been doing references to Fast Show characters for the last few days), but it’s true.

It’s also a slightly lighter way of introducing a serious post.

There have been a couple of things in particular that, in the words of Peter Griffin, have really grinded my gears this week – the Pope and a guy called Joe.

Ok firstly, the guy called Joe.

It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that in recent days America suffered yet another deadly shooting incident. Elliot Rodger went on what the media are describing as a “rampage”, killing six people and injuring a further 13. Using weapons and ammunition that he had purchased legally. I watched Robert Martinez (the father of one of the victims – Chris Martinez) make a statement to the press on the following day.

Robert Martinez has a point.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states very simply and unambiguously that: “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Everyone has a right to life. And I firmly believe that this right to life is “trumps” (you’ll see why I’ve used that word in a moment) most other rights – especially those constitutional rights which, in the pecking order I think come below human rights.

So on to Joe.

Joe Wurzelbacher is an American conservative activist who gained notoriety in 2008 when he asked the then Democratic Candidate for President (Senator Barack Obama) about his small business tax policy. Wurzelbacher became known as Joe the Plumber and featured in some GOP adverts and campaign media coverage for a while.

So why has this person annoyed me?

He has written an open letter to the families of the victims of the Isla Vista shooting saying that their “dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights” and specifically to Robert Martinez (who railed against the NRA and “craven politicians”) to “back off” suggesting that Martinez’s statement would be “exploited by gun-grab extremists as are all tragedies involving gun violence and the mentally ill by the anti-Second Amendment Left.”

There is so much here that grinds my gears – the insensitivity of the whole thing, the threatening language, the timing.

I know that Martinez politicised the tragedy as soon as he mentioned the NRA and politicians, but frankly in my opinion, Mr Martinez has a point.

America has suffered more than it’s fair share of pointless gun-violence incidents and despite this there appears to be little or no action from their leaders. The NRA is a powerful lobbying force in Washington. According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, the NRA’s lobbying spend regularly exceeds $1.5mn and in 2013 topped $3mn – so they do make it difficult for any change to happen.

The President, despite his left-wing credentials, appears powerless to do anything about not only the NRA but also gun-violence. There is, in my view, a whole range of things that could be brought in – further checks, balances, security systems, background checks, joining up the myriad of security agencies which exist in the US – the list goes on.

In my opinion, buying a gun should be one of the most difficult and highly regulated things you are legally allowed to do.

Q) Do you want a gun?

A) Yes.

Q) Why?

Q) What for?

Q) What are you intending to use it for?

Q) Do you have a history of mentall ill-health, drug abuse, domestic violence, alcohol abuse?

Q) Can you present 3 forms of valid identification?

Q) Will you submit to a full police verified background check?

Q) Will you agree to a 30 day cooling off period?

Q) Have you been on a gun-handling, maintenance and security course?

Q) Where will you keep the gun if this purchase is successful?

The whole process should start over for ammunition.

I know that, as David Cameron said, you cannot legislate against a switch flipping in someone’s brain. You cannot legislate for everything – but as a first try, let’s make it bloody difficult for anyone to get a gun in the first place.

(part 2 of this post to follow shortly – hopefully not a 5 month gap between posts this time ..)

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