Letting go of guns

After writing my last post, I started wondering whether Americans would ever give up their attachment to their second amendment rights. Would they ever let go of their guns?


As a frequent visitor to the United States, I’ve had the opportunity to listen in on some of the debates on gun control, and felt the frustration, I suspect many feel, with the lack of any real progress on the matter in Congress.

There is a process for changing the American Constitution. It has been changed in the past. After all, we are talking about rights attached to the second amendment to the Constitution.

Given the current state of play in the game called politics in the US, I don’t expect to see real change any time soon, despite the reported public support for some forms of gun control.

I live in a country with gun controls. Every gun owner and, consequently every gun, is required to be registered, and there are restrictions on the types of guns one can own. No semi-automatic or assault rifles or machines guns, for example.

We have some idea of how many guns there are in circulation and what type they are. That doesn’t stop people importing or smuggling in illegal firearms but, despite our rugged image, we do not have a gun culture.

I was surprised to read in The Blaze  that no-one actually knows how many guns there are in the US – it could be as many as 270 million – but there are about 3 million firearms of the types that need to be registered, including 488,000 machine guns, in the hands of the general public.

That’s a lot of guns. There’s only around 317 million people living in the United States.

Why would anybody own a gun?

The usual answers are for hunting, for sport and for protection.

I’m not sure what sort of hunting you’d do with a machine gun but, as someone with a little military experience, I can tell you they make one hell of a mess of a target on the range, and they’re good for killing people – which is their default purpose.

Who do Americans think they need so much protection from? From each other, apparently. If everybody else has a gun you need one to protect yourself, right? Or what about that line from the National Rifle Association after the Sandy Hook shooting?

‘The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.’

Sort of a catch 22, isn’t it.  The obvious answers is to put away the guns. It’s not the Wild West anymore. Like  Australians, most Americans live in cities. The gun is yesterday’s weapon. Today’s weapon is the smartphone.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some Americans are doing what Congress and the National Rifle Association seem unwilling to consider. According to a survey reported in the NY Times and other places, gun ownership in the USA has shown a decline over the last 40 years from around 50% of the population to around 30%.

It appears some Americans are willing to give up or not exercise their second amendment rights.

Sometimes you need to lead from below.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter