Call for apology from Barrick
Adventures with bows & arrows

If in doubt, shoot it

GunsPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - If you watch any imported American police program on commercial television you’d be forgiven for assuming that the solution to any problem is a gun.

These programs, with their officious acronyms like NCIS, SVU and CSI, feature a never ending barrage of good guys ending the nefarious deeds of bad guys in a blaze of gunfire. Every situation seems to end in gun play.

I’ve no idea what these acronyms stand for but they create the distinct impression that the USA is run by a bunch of testosterone-charged teenagers.

The ownership of firearms and the right to use them are regarded as sacrosanct in the USA by virtue of the second amendment to its constitution. This was ratified on 15 December 1791 as part of a Bill of Rights.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," the amendment allowed.

Back then, the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ had a number of purposes, including enabling the people to organise a militia system, participate in law enforcement, safeguard against ‘tyrannical government’, repel invasion and suppress insurrection.

The insurrection that the creators of the amendment had in mind was one led by slaves. Guns were needed to keep people of colour supressed.

Nowadays the same ideology runs to suppressing anyone of difference, be it colour, almond eyes, crinkly hair or any other form of otherness.

One of the other main reasons the amendment was thought necessary was because, during the War of Independence (1775–83), the British rulers had sought to disarm the people for fear they were revolutionaries.

Another reason was that in those days no police force or standing army existed which could provide safety and security and militias were thought necessary for protection and good order.

Without a regular army and police force (which in England was not established until 1829), it was considered the duty of ordinary people to maintain the law and assist the suppression of uprisings.

The USA now has a huge standing military and many and varied police forces so the right to bear arms in that context is no longer relevant.

TankHowever Americans still have a deep distrust of government. Some even regard their government as ‘tyrannical’.

Given that fact, you would think that any sane government would quickly move to disarm citizens who might be thinking about insurrection.

This hasn’t happened of course. The reason is because the second amendment is regarded as sacrosanct and thus cannot be changed.

Why this is so is strange is because the second amendment is just that, an amendment. Surely an amendment can be itself amended?

Or perhaps there is something else at play.

Right wing capitalists who want free reign to plunder don’t want any government interference in their activities.

Maintaining the right to bear arms through organisations like the National Rifle Association is now the totem of such people in their resistance to government regulation.

It is a position of standoff with the government that plays well in their song book.

There is also lots of money to be made feeding gun-toting citizens with lots of increasingly lethal firearms.

This would be well and good if the Americans kept their beliefs to themselves. They could go on slaughtering each other with their guns while the rest of us got on with saner lives.

Unfortunately they also export their beliefs in television cop shows and increasingly violent films featuring incessant gun play.

Not to mention the small wars they generate across the face of the earth.

This stuff is certainly not benign. Neither does it reinforce the message of good transcending evil. What it does is simply illustrate the might of the gun. The gun is power and power is all.

Even in remote places like Papua New Guinea, violent American films are very popular. Raskol gang members model themselves after Rambo, as do gun-wielding tribal thugs in the highlands.

The power of the gun has a long history in PNG. The presence of firearms in the hands of the colonisers underpinned what made the early pacification of warring or aggressive tribes possible.

Getting the message across that problems can be solved without resort to violence and guns is severely compromised by gun cultures.

HandgunThe current standoff between China and the US could descend into warfare. The Chinese are currently only using economic measures in a trade ‘war’ but the Americans may have more than tariffs and embargoes in mind.

Who would have thought that what started off as ordinary people throwing off oppression could end in the possible annihilation of the world.

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Arthur Williams

Perhaps as a copper’s son I was always biased just as Lt. Cable sang in ‘South Pacific’:

“You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!”

It certainly is has been bred into to almost all USA citizens since that nation’s insurrection against British colonialism.

Supporters both sides of the Second Amendment I think will never be shaken from their position on that 18th Century right to bear arms.

There is irony in the debate when you learn from Chris that in the USA there were over 14,000 murders, homicides as the yanks call it in a nation which is one of 50 or so that retain the death penalty.

Next door is bloody Mexico that hadn’t used capital punishment since 1937 before officially abolishing it in 2005. Yet the most recent statistic in the Guardian claims 2,585 murders in just March 2020. That could mean that its 2019’s murder’s total of 34,582 will decline. The average has been around 25,000-30,000 for too long.

So the imposition of a death sentence doesn’t provide safety from being slaughtered nor the carrying of arms protect you either.

I recall several persons saying after the 90 murders at The Bataclan in Paris in 2015: ‘If only one person had been armed they could have taken out the three murderers and saved lives!’

Similarly it was said by Craig Mackey then acting Commissioner that had he been armed in a car a few yards from the murdered policemen in the courtyard of the British Parliament then that dead hero could have been saved.

Mind there were three other unarmed coppers in that car and they were allegedly told by a policeman standing outside their car, “Get out, make safe, go, shut the door,'

So they locked themselves in their car without attempting to divert the killer from his deadly assault.

Mackey was knighted for bravery in January 2018 honours after being replaced as commissioner by the (now Dame) unbelievably named C Dick who, in February 2017, came out as a lesbian making her the highest-ranked lesbian officer in British police history. Her partner Helen is also said to be a police person.
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Contrast those instances of lack of firepower intentionally or accidentally with the 170 (lowest estimate) massacred in Moscow’s Dubrovka when many armed soldiers, special-forces and coppers were eventually on site.

At least those security forces saved protracted court cases as I believe most of the terrorist died in the finale of the horrible events.

When I was training in my very short police career, happily in more peaceful times, we were told never draw your truncheon ‘unless you are going to use it!’

Apparently it is extremely embarrassing to have your would-be target grab it from you and then hit you with it. In my dad’s 30 years of service he told me his was little used.

At the end of WW2 he managed to do a swap of his baton with that of a temporary War Reserve policeman’s. Due to shortage of metal the emergency coppers truncheons were 100% wood whereas the pre-war ones were made of wood with a metal core. ‘Too heavy son!’ dad told me. He did use it to crack walnuts!

Happily bucking the world police scene firearms are still not normal police equipment on the streets of the UK today. For how long though?

I won’t forget when in 1970 as a ‘new chum’ walking down Perth’s main shopping street to see police with pistols on their hips (not guns!). My wife and I were surprised that they needed them.

Bernard Corden

Post 9/11, I was approaching the boarding lounge at Port Moresby's domestic air terminal when an elderly PNG lady in front of me sent the body scanning device crazy.

The security guard searched her bilum and subsequently found a bush knife. He nonchalantly shrugged and waved the lady through.

Chris Overland

Here are some numbers to help understand the scale of the gun problem in the USA.

There are about 120 guns in the USA for every 100 citizens. In Australia there about 14.5, while PNG has only 1 gun per 100 people.

In 2017 there were 39,773 gun deaths recorded in the USA, of which 23,854 were suicides and 14,542 were homicides. The remaining 1,377 deaths were accidental.

Based on these figures, Americans are in most danger not from criminals with guns but from themselves.

Since 1990, gun related deaths in Australia have fallen from 614 per year to 274. This decline is largely attributable to the post Port Arthur crack down on high powered military style weapons, plus very strict regulation of all fire arms.

Guns are central to the USA's conception of itself as a nation of rugged, individualistic and self reliant people.

There is a long history in the USA of reliance upon a gun for self defence that stretches back at least 400 years, combined with the deep distrust of authority mentioned by Phil.

Modern TV shows merely reflect the fact that guns remain not a weapon of last resort but one of first resort for many Americans, including far too many police officers.

This helps explain the extra judicial killings that routinely occur in the USA, notably the shooting of black Americans.

Americans will never surrender their firearms and the Second Amendment will never be further amended let alone revoked.

Guns were, are and will remain a central part of the American Exceptionalism that informs how Americans think about themselves as a people.

No amount of data or comparative statistics will make the slightest difference.

Chips Mackellar

The "right to keep and bear arms" in the Second Amendment has generated some weird situations.

I remember watching on TV the proceedings at the Democratic convention during the lead-up to the 2016 US federal elections.

Because of the scare that violence might occur, the Democrats employed security guards to disarm everyone entering the convention if they happened to be carrying anything resembling a weapon.

Thus penknives, sharp instruments, and anything which could be used as a weapon was confiscated from people attending the convention. But- wait for it - some people attending the convention entered carrying firearms - not just pistols - but M16s, sub-machine guns, automatic shotguns, hunting rifles and so on.

These people were not disarmed by the security guards because of their "right to keep and bear arms."

I could not believe it. People carrying knives were stopped, while people carrying firearms were waved through. No wonder they have firearm problems in the US.

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