Musing on Guns

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We think of England as being fairly ‘gun-free’ these days, don’t we? We are not a people who buy hand guns with which to defend our homes and families. It’s not gun-free, though. England is a country where guns have long played a part. Sometimes quite a big part.

That part has usually been a huntin’, shootin’ and fishing’ type of part, with some important exceptions: in times of war, obviously, guns have played a more prominent role, and in times of lawlessness and lack of good policing (the 16th & 17th centuries, for instance), people who could afford them would carry guns on long trips for protection against highwaymen, or to venture into known trouble-spots in towns at night.

In recent centuries, however, it has become rare to see a gun that was not in the hands of a) the police, b) the army, or c) competitors at a sporting event. Now, there are criminals, of course, who wouldn’t dream of going out without a loaded weapon of some kind, but on the whole, normal, ordinary, good people do not walk out of their houses with any kind of weapon at all – let alone a loaded pistol in a specially made secret pocket in their handbag, and certainly not to pop down to Sainsbury’s for a loaf of bread. It kind of boggles the average English mind. It boggles the average Irish, Welsh and Scots mind, too, come to that1.

Quite apart from being illegal to do such a thing, to carry a loaded gun in your handbag requires a mentality I simply do not understand. If you’re that terrified of being attacked, it’s going to do you absolutely no good at all to carry a gun securely zipped into your bag anyway, especially if you then leave said bag in your shopping trolley along with your two-year-old child while you browse the shelves.

Tragically, this did happen, and it happened very recently in a supermarket in America. Tragically, the two-year-old had the time and opportunity to rifle through the bag, find the zipped pocket, unzip it, extract the gun and shoot his mother in the head – and she died. It was said that she only left him unattended for ‘a moment’.

While being desperately sad for the family, and the young woman who died, I find myself mostly fretting over the poor little boy who will likely never get over what he did. He may not remember consciously, but somewhere in the recesses of his brain there will be the imprint of the trauma; an imprint of the time he played with Mommy’s ‘toy’ gun and it went bang and she fell over and some people took her away, and she never came home again. I have visions of him screaming for her at night and crying himself to sleep. One day, when he is older, he will ask for details of her death, and what will they tell him?

The dead mother is described as having ‘grown up around guns’ in a very gun-oriented family. She hunted. She shot at a gun club. She’d done safety courses on hand-guns. She was ‘responsible’. Well, I’m sorry to disagree, but to my mind she wasn’t actually very responsible if she left a gun in her bag in the trolley with her child. Guns are dangerous.

Oh, I can hear the gun lobby in the background muttering things like ‘Guns aren’t dangerous, people are dangerous’, but I don’t buy into that particular philosophy. Loaded guns are dangerous. Electricity is dangerous. Sharp knives, broken glass and mad bulls are dangerous. You wouldn’t put a child in a small space with any of those things without taking steps to keep the one away from the other, not if you’re sane.

To say that ‘Guns don’t kill people, People kill people’ is like saying ‘Rabid dogs don’t kill people, it’s the rabies virus that kills people’. It’s technically true, but the semantics don’t matter when you’re dead because you hugged that dog and it bit you.

All guns can do, at best, is to maintain the status quo. Criminals get guns, so the householder gets a gun, and the criminal gets a bigger gun. So what does the householder do next? Well, apparently, you can pick up a semi-automatic assault weapon in Walmart, along with your cornflakes.

Sometimes it’s the criminal who gets his just desserts, but just as often it’s the householder who gets shot first, or shot by accident by a member of his own family, or a child is shot by accident, or – of all the horrors – someone goes nuts and gets into a school and mows down students by the score. The police are by now so nervous of gun-toting baddies that they have been known to shoot innocent people by mistake, or wrestle them to the ground so violently that they die anyway.

Reading the news, it seems to me, sitting here in my relatively safe, relatively gun-free country, that more innocent people die than do those who are breaking the law in good earnest. So another thing I simply do not understand is why people are still listening to the pro gun lobby.

Tell me. Why do people still think that guns will keep them and their loved ones safe?

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1 And also the minds of those living in the Isle of Man, the Channel Isles and anywhere else that is not the mainland of England itself, or Ireland, Wales or Scotland, but is still part of the UK. I just thought I’d mention that.

And So It Begins … 2015, that is!

Some of you will know that I used to have a blog – a different blog – which ran for over five years.  I really enjoyed writing it, and meeting new friends and discovering new blogs and all that goes along with blogging …

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… but the Depp Effect could not last forever, sadly, and it ground to a halt halfway through 2014.  The idol1 turned out to have feet of clay, as indeed they all do in the end, which meant that he fell of his pedestal and broke.  I still love the older Depp movies, but I do wish he’d start watching the new ones, because then maybe he wouldn’t keep on and on making ever-more-tortuously incomprehensible Pirates of the Caribbean episodes.  Or maybe he did start watching them and that’s why he appeared to be either drunk or stoned on stage at an awards ceremony recently.  I don’t know whether he really was in fact drunk or stoned, but I don’t like that kind of display.  It’s unprofessional and it’s disrespectful to those receiving the awards … unless they too were in on the joke, in which case it’s disrespectful to us.

Anyway.  Nice to see you here at the new place.

You don’t want to hear the details of my life between the end of The Depp Effect and the beginning of The Sparking Synapse2, so I’ll just tell you about the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one, and then we’ll be all caught up.

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In deference to our advancing years, Christmas decorations were minimal.  We did buy a few new ones – candle arches, which have the advantage of decorating inside as well as outside, half dozen strands of new tinsel  (I do like tinsel) and a new mantle decoration.  Oh, and two pots of cheap ‘pearl’ strands for the tree … aaand a tin rocking horse to go with my tin reindeer for the windowsill.  Outside lights which didn’t get put up, and some new stick-on snowflakes for the windows and mirrors (I LOVE stick-on snowflakes) which did get put up.  I bought some new table napkins too, some new Christmas themed tea towels, and two red hand towels which I forgot to get out for Christmas Day.  The red hand towels, I mean.  The table napkins and tea towels were got out and used. In fact, I did a very successful Christmas tree fold with the napkins.  Looked really pretty, they did, but I didn’t get a photo, sadly, and now they’re washed and crinkly and waiting to be ironed. But it was like this, if you really want to know!

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The grandchildren came over, so we had to put the tree in a playpen and the dogs behind the babygates. The dogs didn’t much like it, but it was for their own protection. They both love the girls, but as good-natured and mild as they are, one does not (if one has any sense) push one’s luck with children and dogs, especially at stressful times of the year like Christmas.

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The babygates allowed for some safe interaction between them when both dog and child wanted it. Here we have an important telephone call being passed along to the kitchen staff.

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But I’ve been trying to shake off some hideous virus since the beginning of November.  I got rid of it once, and was fairly good over Christmas, but now it’s back with a vengeance.  I woke with a sore throat again a few days ago, and since then I’ve been aching and tired and coughing all night, so I have little energy or enthusiasm for anything which makes this a perfect time for a new blog venture, don’t you think? 

Yes, perhaps that is twisted thinking, but that’s me.  The synapses are sparking but sometimes they seem to misfire.

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Maybe one day I’ll set fire to something with my super-sparky brain. But meanwhile, I’ve woken to greet 1st January 2015 with a splitting headache and blurred vision and a sore throat and I feel more like a very damp squib. Just pass me the hot honey and lemon and that bag of Jakeman’s lozenges, would you?

To all of you, I wish a very happy and peaceful New Year. To those like me, who are suffering, I send you many get-well wishes and much sympathy – but you can get your own Manuka honey and Jakeman’s. I do have a spare lemon if you need one, though!

 
 

1 That would be Johnny Depp.

2 Oh, alright.  We’ve been to Italy twice, met up and had fun with a good number of friends there and here, weaselled our way into favour at the new Italian restaurant and nearly lost Sid with a 2.2kg tumour on his spleen (he’s fine now).  Jeffie is on Alzheimer’s drugs for Canine Cognitive Disorder and probably has Degenerative Myelopathy (but he’s doing OK too).  OH is OK (though he complains a lot) and twins are doing well and being cute all over the place.  If you’re a new reader and you have no idea who I am, or who Sid, Jeff and OH are, go and read the ‘About me’.

Happy now?  Oh, Good.  See you in a few days!