FaceBook is an interesting community. You get to meet and interact with people from all over the World, most of whom of course you will never meet in real life. Last week I had an interesting experience on FaceBook regarding a posting by a FB “friend” Deborah Watson-Sloan, which related to the 2nd amendment of the US constitution. During my nine years of living and working in the US (1992-2001) it was the attitude that some had that they had “the right to bear arms” that I found most difficult to understand.
This was the image I saw from Deborah Watson-Sloan on my timeline.
I posted a comment which unfortunately I don’t have a screen capture of which said
Ah yes, the 2nd amendment of the US constitution. Probably the most ridiculous of the 20-odd amendents, the God given right Americans have to go around shooting each other.
Obviosly pretty provocative to a 2nd amendent advocate. She then responded by saying
So you’d like to be speaking German would you?
I am not sure what role the 2nd amendent played in defeating Hitler in the 2nd World war, but I thought I would play a little with this clearly deranged woman, so I posted the following response (bearing in mind I speak no more than half a dozen words of German)
I love speaking German. Why would I not want to speak German? The language of Göthe?
I then got this response from her, which I have in a screencapture.
Hey, I didn’t like this comment SO TAKE YOUR FREE SPEECH TO SOME SPINELESS PUSSY PAGE IN OTHER WORDS F%CK OFF
I sent a comment back saying
Charming. The 1st amendment clearly isn’t one of your favourites then? Nor is being polite. By the way, you’ve missed out a comma
but by then I had been blocked, which is why it has a red exclamation mark next to it, showing it wasn’t delivered.
I was a little disappointed she wasn’t willing to engage in a debate on the pros and cons of “the right to bear arms”. If just shouting abuse at people is her level of debate, then pro-gun people bad better discourage her from trying to convince neutrals on this topic.
My now-ex friend had also posted this image on FaceBook, which I screencaptured.
The 2nd amendment
The 2nd amendment of the US constituion is possibly the most contentious of all of the 27 amendments. It was adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. This is the actual text of the 2nd amendment.
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.
There have been so many hours/weeks/years of debate as to the exact legal meaning of this amendment, with one side saying it gives each US citizen the right to bear arms, and proponents of gun-control laws saying that it really only gives members of a militia this right.
I will leave you to come to your own decision on whether these words mean that every US citizen has the right to bear arms. There are probably few issues (apart from the right to abortion) which are so divisive in US society. When tragedies like the shooting of twenty children and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 happen, this polarisation becomes most extreme. The gun-control proponents will say that gunmen like Adam Lanza have easy access to guns, and this should be restricted. Restricting owernership of guns and the types of guns individuals can own would, in the pro gun-control lobby, reduce the frequency of events like Sandy Hook. The “right to bear arms” group, most voiciferously promoted by the National Rifle Association, will put forward arguments such as the way to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook is for each teacher to be armed and for armed guards to be at the reception of each school.
As I mentioned at the start, this exchange happened last week, just a few days after Andy Murray won the Wimbledon Men’s final. Why do I mention that? Well, because until Murray’s success in tennis, most British people when they heard of his home town of Dunblane in Scotland would think of the awful tragedy that happened there one morning in March 1996. A gunman armed with four handguns went into the School gynmasium, shot dead all sixteen 5-year old pupils, the teacher and then himself. Andy Murray and his 8 year old classmates were on their way to the school gym when the shooting started. For the first time ever, in a recent BBC documentary, he talks about this
Thankfully, events like the “Dunblane school massacre”, as it has come to be known, are a rarity in Europe. In the US, such events happen with a sickening regularity.
I don’t know or understand much about the World, but I do know that
violence begets violence
The Government reaction to the Dunblane Massacre
After the Dunblane Massacre, an inquiry was set up which recommended tightening of the UK gun control laws, particularly access to handguns.