Friday, 5 August 2011

Gun control v2.0

After the recent killing of more than 70 people in Norway, the debate about gun control has hit Europe again.  Some commentators have suggested that the young Labour Party supporters at the Utoya camp could have been better protected if they - or their security guard - had been permitted to bear arms. 
Weirdly, the subject of firearms then forced its way back into my life a few days ago as I walked home late at night on my own.

A few streets from my house, I noticed a red laser scoping light was being pointed at my head by someone who was hiding themselves out of sight.  I could tell from the angle of projection that they were at a fixed point, probably in the window of one of the upper floor rooms of a nearby house.   They had waited until I had passed in front of them so that they could aim at my head from behind.  

The person targeting me did not have great aim but my first instinct was to dodge out of the line of fire.  Then I remembered I was in the UK.  There was absolutely no way that the person shining that light would have an automatic rifle.  NO WAY.  

So instead of giving some bored teenager with a laser pen the pleasure they clearly coveted of seeing an adult run away in fear, I flipped them the bird over my shoulder and carried on walking.  The light went out as soon as the recipient recognised this universal gesture of good will.   

I continued walking home, both amused and annoyed by what had just occurred.  Then I remembered the young British man who was recently stabbed to death in Greece after he allegedly shone a similar light at a local taxi driver's head in the small hours of the morning.  When I'd first read his story in the news I'd been astonished that a taxi driver could even propose that the shining of a laser light might be a justification for stabbing someone.  Now, walking home in the dark on my own, I found myself wondering if I would have attempted to kill someone if I genuinely thought they had aimed a firearm at my head.  The anger still seething inside me from the recent cowardly, faceless transaction told me very clearly that I would gladly have had a go, given the chance.  

So, thank you Gun Control.  As long as certain brainless members of the population lack a sense of decency, it is very fortunate that these same dullards also lack ready access to firearms.  Fortunate for me - and I think also for them.

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