Isn’t it time America ditched the guns?

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

This is what the second amendment of the United States Bill of Rights says. This was adopted, along with the rest of the bill of rights, on the 15th December 1791. Two hundred and twenty one years ago.
Obviously, like everyone else, my heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and all those connected with the recent horrific shootings in Connecticut. This latest tragedy is sadly another in a long line of such tragedies.
I am an Englishman who lives in a country where there is strict gun control; where our police force mostly do not carry guns, simply because they do not need them most of the time. It seems painfully obvious and logical to me that if you have less guns you will have less senseless death. Most in Europe would agree with this and we cannot understand the logic of America resisting gun control.
I will try to be clear because I know that this post will create controversy amongst some American readers. I am not arguing that gun control is the only solution to such tragedy. It is true that we have gun crime in the UK. It is also true that addressing mental health issues is needed to try to curb such murderous intent. It is also true that we should think carefully about how our societies often glamourise violence and gang culture. All of these need addressing but, for me, controlling guns is the obvious first step.
What I am arguing is that it is patently obvious that if you have less guns you will have less murder. The shooter in Connecticut would not have been able to slaughter so many innocent children without access to guns and ammunition. Neither would the perpetrators at Columbine or any of the other recent shootings in the USA. Any figures you care to look at show that less guns mean less murder. For example:

United States firearm related deaths per 100,000 population in a year equals 9. In the UK the rate is 0.22.

As a European I cannot understand the mindset of those who argue that it should be the right of ordinary citizens to own guns. What is the purpose of such a thing?
For me the 2nd Amendment doesn’t even argue this. It argues for a “Well regulated Militia,” – a ‘Militia’ implies a group of people – citizens – trained to defend a state, perhaps from foreign invasion (e.g to defend against us – the British). I am well aware that congress has interpreted the 2nd Amendment to mean that individuals can own guns but was that really the original intention back in 1791? The US has well trained armed forces and police forces to defend itself. Therefore Militias are redundant.
Some will argue that you need an armed citizenry to defend against a possible tyrannical government. But, like European nations, America has the ballot box and the option of peaceful protest when it finds those in power distasteful. Armed civil war would and should not be a desirable option; just look at Syria right now.
I apologise if my opinions offend any of my American readers; that is not my intention. We are lucky to live in countries where free speech, opinion and dissent are allowed. I do not mean to preach but it all seems so logical and obvious to me.
So be brave America; it’s time to ditch the guns.
I will finish with a quote from one of my heroes; Thomas Paine. Paine was an Englishman who was instrumental in the birth of the USA and the American War of Independence. I am an Englishman who grew up in his birthplace and went to the same school that he did. This quote is from his revolutionary pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ and surely now it must be time for common sense to prevail; less guns equals less death. The children of Connecticut deserve no less than common sense. As Paine rightly said:

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

Thomas Paine

© 2012 Simon Poore

Literary Agents, Postage Stamps and the Queen’s Jubilee…

So, for the last couple of days I have been busily engaged in packaging up and sending off my precious first ever novel manuscript to a selection of literary agents, mostly in the London area. This has been a task/milestone that I have been looking forward to for months, but now that it is here it has been done with a certain amount of trepidation and fear.
The first problem came with the mild shock of the sheer cost of postage these days. Didn’t it used to be a fairly cheap privilege to lick the back of the Queen’s head and gum her face to an envelope? Maybe the high price is paying for all those unnecessarily ridiculous Jubilee celebrations. If they were going to bring back the Sex Pistols playing on a boat down the Thames I wouldn’t mind paying, but as it stands we will have hours and hours of sycophantic TV and ‘celebrations’ full of fake joy – all telling us how marvellous and hard working the Queen is. All when we didn’t even vote for her. But maybe I should save my republican ideals until another post before I rant too much? (that isn’t like ‘Republican’ in America by the way) – I will quote Thomas Paine before I swiftly move on, this pretty much sums up my feelings about the monarchy:
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right…”
But enough of digression…
The second fear came when I finally handed over my carefully packaged envelopes in the post office and when I clicked the ‘send’ button on my (strangely cheaper) email submissions. Had I really checked and proof-read every word? Every punctuation? What about all those typos I probably missed when I read through it eighty seven times? Will I be rejected because they don’t like my handwriting on the envelopes? Maybe I should have typed labels or something? I bet there is some glaring mistake in all those I sent off! Such a precious package! Hope I got it right…
Then, once I had sent them, I got to thinking. Imagining my packages landing on the desks of jaded agents and tired agency ‘readers’. How could I have possibly thought they would be remotely interested? How foolish of me…I know I will be rejected, like all the thousands of others they reject. I could have saved all those pounds on postage!
In the end my mind conjured my biggest fear. What if, by some miracle of miracles, one of them actually likes my manuscript? And, God forbid, thinks I have talent and potential? The problem then would be – what if I don’t like them?? Should I hang out for a better agent or jump for the first one? Oh to be given such a choice…
Now the waiting begins…

UPDATE: So I have had TWO (count them – 2) email rejections within 24 hours of sending it out. Which obviously begs the question – did they actually read anything I sent? Well probably not, but then this was something I was expecting from some agencies…ho hum…chin up it’s a sunny day! (23rd May 2012)

What do you think?

All those precious words…

Thomas Paine: Norfolk’s favourite hero (yes I know most people think its Nelson…)

© 2012 Simon Poore