Guns Save Lives – 8

Every day in America people die from the use of firearms. Most never even make the news, or maybe just a mention on the local channel if it’s a slow news day. Occasionally, there’s a shooting that briefly lifts the consciousness of the nation, like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and a number of other avoidable tragedies where loss of life numbered sufficient for Americans to take notice – at least till the news media packed up and went home again.

It would seem the price of freedom is complacency. If, after one of these dreadful events, anyone calls for gun control, his voice is whisked away on the winds of defensiveness blasting out from organizations like the National Rifle Association, a body of individuals who innocently convince themselves that a weapon with the sole purpose of killing other human beings is an alright plaything to keep around the house.

It’s hard to believe the motto of the National Rifle Association is “Guns Save Lives”. I wonder if any of its members would be prepared to cross the Atlantic this week to argue that point with Melanie Jones of Croxteth, Liverpool, in the United Kingdom? It’s unlikely any of them would have the nerve. After all, if you need to swagger around with an AK47 in your hands before you feel like a man, you’re unlikely to have enough courage to face-up to a mother in the midst of tragedy.

Unlike America, the UK has matured sufficiently to realize it’s not a good idea having a surfeit of high-powered weaponry hanging around. The gun control laws in Britain are stiff and well enforced. Consequently, people are far less afraid of each other than is the case in America.

Of course, until we realize the greatest disservice we do ourselves, as a species, is to tolerate the evil bastards who get rich producing these destructive monstrosities, and exile them all on an island somewhere with enough of their products to eventually wipe themselves out, it will be impossible to rid ourselves of the menace completely.

UK gun law has proved reasonably effective in controlling firearms and the victims of their lethality are relatively few, certainly compared to the lawlessness experienced in the United States.

Consequently, when an innocent, eleven-year-old boy is shot to death while on his way home from football practice, the whole nation is shocked and grieving.

Little Rhys Jones was shot three times in the neck, about 7.30 in the evening, in broad daylight. He died later in his mother’s arms.

His mother is Melanie Jones.

Well, you macho guys from the NRA? Any volunteers?

Read about the shooting of eleven-year-old Rhys Jones HERE.

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11 Replies to “Guns Save Lives – 8”

  1. How different would Iraq be if we hadn’t handed out guns to everyone and guarded the ammunition dumps?

  2. Flimsy – you’re right, up to a point, but Iraq was awash with guns before the invasion. Most kept an AK47 under their bed. Certainly, the ineptitude of the early administrators – in particular, Paul Bremer – resulted in a flood of additional weapons and ammunition. No attempt was made to guard the ammo dumps, and, as has finally been acknowledged officially, though was common knowledge for years, neither were records kept of the thousands of guns dished out to the ever-changing “American allies”, the Iraqi police, army, and in some cases private militias.

  3. First off, many thanks from Sophie and myself for your birthday wishes.

    Next, I see you’re as angry as I am, along with millions of others – especially Liverpudlians, be they the ex-pat variety like yourself or not – over that poor innocent little lad’s senseless cold blooded killing.

    Also, we want to say (now we’ve found out about it), how much we like your work – past and present, here & elswhere – and it’s not just because we’re biased brother scousers either. Honest injun. Really.

    That’s why we’ve just banged you onto our blogroll.

  4. ‘Most kept an AK47 under their bed.’…?

    Sources, R.J.?

    This is contrary to my experiences with the Iraqi community, most of whom will gladly attest to the fact that nobody bothered to even lock their doors… that is, until the Americans rolled into town.

    And no, they didn’t bother to do so because they were heavily armed inside. It seems that there was actually a time when they trusted each other and whomever happened to stroll past.

  5. Anan – Ooooooh! You’re at it again! (large grin). Sources, indeed. Do I need sources to evidence Arabs keeping weapons under their beds? How about T.E Lawrence for starters? To the Arab, a weapon is as essential as a camel or donkey. Not necessarily to protect him from his neighbor. You are right that doors remained unlocked and trust was an accepted part of life between Sunni and Shia in Iraq, pre-2003. To an Arab, his gun is just as essential as a large beefburger and fries is to today’s average American. I can’t supply internet sources for this information, but one of my most trusted references for all matters Iraqi, is the work of John Simpson, now the BBC’s World Editor, and an authority on all things Iraqi, having spent much of his life and career in that country. I commend to you just one of his books, “Taking the Hard Road To Baghdad”. Though don’t expect a sympathetic opinion of American interests in the area, given that he was badly wounded, and his support team decimated, by an American A-10 tank-buster aircraft whose pilot was not too particular where he dropped his bombs.

    TOB – many thanks for your kind words. I am happy to reciprocate. Indeed, I should have done so a long time ago. As I said, I’ve been reading you for some time. Welcome to Sparrow Chat, and keep up the good work.

  6. I hate to be cheeky, R.J., but it seems to me quite evident that neither T.E. Lawrence or John Simpson are Arabs… although both were involved in military campaigns. I have rubbed shoulders with Arabs from all over the world and this post is the first i’ve ever heard of the ‘gun under the bed’ habit. In fact, it’s quite contrary to what i know of Muslims in general, although, as we both know, you don’t need to be Muslim to be an Arab.

  7. Anan – Saddam Hussein had no problem with his people buying guns. They were openly on sale in the country pre-2003. Automatic weapons are not new to the average Iraqi. John Simpson’s history of the country mentions the Arab penchant for guns and how they were an important possession for most Iraqi men. It’s difficult to obtain good sources on Iraq pre-2003 on the internet. The web is so chocker-block with stuff about the war. On Muslim attitudes to gun possession this forum suggests no teaching at odds with the practice. While not relevant to Iraq, this Manila Times article positively rants about the attitude of Muslim men to their guns. Gary North’s article in from pre-invasion 2003 only touches on the subject, and states (amongst other things) “…..From what the U.S. media report, citizens of Baghdad are armed. An armed citizenry threatens American troops. For a decade, the U.S. military has trained to deal with urban occupation, but a real-life situation has yet to occur.

    If their city is still standing, they may defend their homes from invading forces. If they don’t defend, then some of them may later use their guns to shoot occupying troops. It’s one thing for Iraqis to approve of Saddam’s removal by the U.S. It’s another thing entirely to think that they will submit to long-term occupation of their country by U.S. troops….” North was certainly accurate in that prediction. The whole article makes interesting, though in some cases, questionable reading.

    Finally, we have Muslims to thank for the invention of firearms, though in fairness, if they hadn’t, the Christians eventually would have. Not just guns, but a number of other highly dubious items.

  8. Thank you for researching this subject so thoroughly, R.J. I have read the references you gave thoroughly and with interest.

    The first, a forum, poses a question by a recent convert: Can she carry a gun to protect herself? Deeper reading reveals that she lives in a Christian country torn by violence, and that her husband, also a Christian, feels that she should arm herself for protection. Inherently, I am tempted to respond that this is a question germane to a Christian context and does not have anything to do with Islam at all.

    If asked to put this into an Islamic context, I would say that the first problem here is that she has broken a very firm law about Muslim women being married to a Christian. Possibly, as a convert, she is not aware of this. The problems proceed from here; if she was married to a Muslim, he would be her protection and she would not need to worry about carrying a weapon. If she was unfortunate enough to live in a war-torn country, she would be asked to stay inside where she could enjoy a modicum of safety while her husband did anything that was needed to sustain the family outside.

    Your next reference, an article from the Manila Times, seems to be a shortish and subjective rant about Muslims from a Christian writer who supplies no sources, facts, or logical argument. I would reject any argument, no matter who wrote it, if it lacked this sort of proof.

    Gary North’s article, although written about something else altogether, merely states that he saw a news clip of ‘an Iraqi citizen buying what looks like a machine gun (Kalashnikov), and another citizen trying out a semi-automatic pistol’s slide action. Both times, the voice-over warned of Iraqis preparing to defend themselves.’ He goes on to say that, unless the clip was staged, (which it very well might be), then Saddam Hussein did not impose gun control on his citizenry… which the author is puzzled about, given that he was purported to have feared an upraising by his citizenry and was more likely, all told, to have imposed gun control. This is a far cry from your statement that ‘most kept an AK47 under their bed.’

    The further quote you have given by the same reporter re. the citizenry being armed, first begins with ‘From what the U.S. media report’…which shows a charming faith in the veracity of the US media, but could hardly serve as a bookmark to any sort of reference. In my opinion, if one old grandmother in Baghdad kept a knitting needle, the horribly biased US media would report that Iraqis were ‘over-armed’.

    In your last reference, from Wikipedia, you mention that Muslims invented what appears to be a primitive gun in the 12th century, although, you are quite correct, others were close behind them. The massive invasion of Europeans hell-bent on a fanatical war might have had something to do with the Muslims’ desire to protect themselves. However, the fact that guns were invented by Muslims 9 centuries ago does not infer that all Muslims must, of necessity, carry guns today. I notice that the huge volume of other useful inventions listed by the Wikipedia article have been overlooked in favour of decrying Muslims; saddening, but quite typical.

    This has been a patching-together of various unrelated snippets to incriminate Muslims, without an acknowledgement of what might be the truth, flattering or not. Also saddening and typical. In fact, Muslims are not warmongers or terrorists. We defend ourselves, our families and homes under duress and when negotiation has failed. The notion that Islam spread by the sword was pretty well buried at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

    Those gunslinging Iraqis you mention are a caricature when placed against the Iraqi men I knew, all of whom, it is true, had to serve a sentence of military duty in their war-savaged country, but once done with it, went back to their civilian duties with all due speed. These self-same men could normally be seen dandling babies and swapping recipes in their living rooms (yes, I’ve seen that myself), when not off to the market, hand in hand, to pick up groceries for the wifie.

    And I can personally attest that my ex never kept an AK-47 under the bed, either.

  9. Anan – this was never an issue about Muslims, but Arabs, their tribal systems, and the gun culture prevalent in the Middle East for more than a century. As you rightly point out, not all Arabs are Muslims. Indeed the Ba’ath Party was originally founded in 1944 by eight young Arab nationalists, one of whom was Michael Aflaq an Orthodox Christian Syrian schoolteacher, though it is self evident that, like other religious doctrines, Islam has divided into many different factions all of whom have their own interpretations of the holy teachings. While I admit my remark, “Most kept an AK47 under the bed”, may have been something of an exaggeration when describing the “ordinary” citizens of Baghdad, I stand by it fully when related to the tribal areas and villages of which most of Iraq is composed. Guns were, and still are, an important part of life for tribal Arabs, not just in Iraq, but in other areas of the Middle East as well. Palestine is awash with guns, as we see every day on our television news. Finally, I would refer you to this article by Andrew Hammond, reporting from Baghdad in January 2003, when American aggression was still just a threat. In particular, the paragraph that reads:

    “….Gun culture is deeply ingrained in Iraq, where anyone over 25 can buy such weapons. That culture is encouraged by Saddam Hussein himself. Baghdad is festooned with large posters of the Iraqi leader in various proud poses handling guns. Possessing guns is seen as a mark of honor among tribal Arabs, of whom Saddam is one.”

  10. “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”

    — Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334

  11. Anthony NYC – ah, good old Tommy Jefferson. This one gets trotted out regularly like it is a chapter from the Bible. Just when, in the 21st century, do you anticipate the American people rising up and using their guns en masse against a tyrannical government? It’s fairly tyrannical now, given the American freedoms consigned to the trash can over the last six years. I don’t see too many marching on Washington to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”. Let’s get real. It’s a three hundred year old excuse. If the White House wanted to get really tyrannical with the nation, the weapons owned by the populace wouldn’t stop them, even if the will to use them was there. Which it isn’t, and never will be. By enshrining the American Constitution and all its appendages, this country has anchored itself firmly in the eighteenth century. As a superpower, the nation is doomed if it doesn’t modernize its outlooks and move forward, away from texts that were wholly relevant three hundred years ago, but today only serve to create suffering and mayhem. I think T. Jefferson would rest easier in his grave if he knew the large numbers of Americans gunned down as a direct result of his words, were drastically reduced by laying those words, and their implications, to rest with him.

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