Looking from across the pond, it seems to me that the Second Amendment is legislation for a situation that no longer exists. When the Bill of Rights was put together, Americans still saw a very real possibility of invasion from Britain or another European power. They were also surrounded by natives they chose to view as hostile (if you’d been less greedy and arrogant…never mind). Many states had a large slave population waiting for a Spartacus. Law enforcement was limited and standing armies still rare (the original idea, I have heard, was that the US would never have one, is that true?). In that situation, of course, the right of the individual to bear arms was a necessary one, and was simply an extension of English law at the time.

In the UK, this state of affairs continued, with minor adjustments, until the early 20th Century. We all know that Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson carried concealed revolvers with perfect legality. Even as late as the 1920s, characters such as Lord Peter Wimsey and Bulldog Drummond owned and carried weapons without a problem. However, after WW2, in a small, crowded country, efficiently policed, the possession of lethal weapons by untrained civilians became more of a nuisance than a necessity. For instance, neighbour disputes over here can be bitter, lengthy and occasionally violent. The presence of firearms in such a volatile situation only adds to the potential damage. The same applies to family feuds and sporting partisanship — ‘soccer hooliganism’ in the 1970s and 80s led to numerous deaths -a situation that would only have been exacerbated by guns. So the ownership of firearms became subject to increasing levels of regulation. In 1996, of course, the Dunblane Massacre led to a nationwide revulsion of feeling that led to an absolute ban. One of the results is that the shooting events in the upcoming Commonwealth Games are to be held in India, rather than the official host city of Birmingham.

US history (if a mere three centuries counts as history) is different, of course. The long-standing’frontier and the drawn-out process of settling it led to long periods of virtual lawlessness across large parts of the country, leading to a deep-seated conviction of the need for self-defence. Your population density is more variable — a number of thickly-inhabited areas surrounded by by wide spaces where the population is either thin or non-existent — which makes policing complex. You are also disturbingly under-policed — I have spent, in aggregate, some six weeks in Florida, over which period I saw precisely three police officers. In a similar tourist area in the UK one would expect to see at least one officer or patrol car every day. It did not add to a feeling of security. Finally, of course, your cultural commitment to free-market capitalism at all and any cost leads you to view others -consciously or unconsciously -as competitors and this makes you feel aggressive toward them while fostering a need to defend yourselves against them. ‘American society’ is an oxymoron -your country follows the Thatcherite dictum that “There is no such thing as society, there are only individuals”. Which more than adequately explains your resistance to social programmes, your collective distrust of law enforcement and government, as well as your addiction to personal weapons.

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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