Nothing brings the US’s struggles with adopting even the most rudimentary gun safety measures into perspective better than taking a gander at other countries that have already enacted sensible gun control. Here’s a very revealing three-part series from The Daily Show where John Oliver heads goes Down Under for one heck of a study in contrasts, both societal and political:
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It’s no wonder the rabid US gun lobby can’t seem to form any rational argument. There simply isn’t any evidence they can use in support of their inherently indefensible positions, contra the mountains of evidence against them.
There are a few little things that nagged me throughout the video, though. Oliver’s point about contrasting US and Australian histories isn’t really valid; we’re talking about the modern effects of modern policies on modern society, and regardless of shared similarities between the two nations’ histories, modern attitudes towards guns and related legislation truly don’t match up. Hence why the US’s rampant gun culture makes it all but impossible to institute the sort of gun control that Australia (among others) currently benefits from.
It was also disappointing to see Van Cleave’s point about police militarization swept aside and ridiculed, even given how very, very clumsily he made it. (“Ninja police”? Really?) No objective observer can look at the increasing rates of warrantless and no-knock paramilitary raids (often for offenses as trivial pot possession) and the growing civil police use of military hardware and weaponry thanks to the Pentagon’s 1033 program (which was only recently curbed, and only temporarily), not to mention the increasingly commonplace facts like unconstitutional wiretaps and other civil liberties violations, and not conclude that the United States has decidedly started down a dark path in recent decades. While it’s still premature to dub the country a “police state” by any metric, dismissing concerns about its growing civil use of paramilitary force is foolish bordering on dangerous.
Van Cleave also made a point about people being the problem, and while he was typically gormless about it, he was right to infer (as I presume he meant to) that guns are merely tools to be used by people who may or may not have illicit intentions for them. But this doesn’t change anything, and it only undercuts his own argument. Even while firearms aren’t inherently dangerous on their own, it still makes sense to pass regulations and reforms intended to keep them out of the hands of those who would use them for dangerous ends. Controlling which people can use which guns in which circumstances can only lead to fewer criminal acts with said guns down the line, all the while maintaining the general population’s Second Amendment right to self-defense.
Ultimately, there is no contradiction between reasonable gun control and the right to bear arms, no matter what the gun nuts love to holler. They are simply, plainly, factually and (increasingly so) obviously wrong. I believe it’s only a matter of time before the increasingly marginalized pro-gun lobby starts losing its sleeper hold on the US political debate and some slivers of sense are allowed to slip through.
EDIT: 04/27/13 12:38 AM ET – Fixed some minor transcript errors.