“Shoot Out”: Why Orlando Shows The US Needs Better Gun Control

surreal-884695_1920I am fortunate enough to live in a country where it is very difficult to buy a gun.  Difficult but not impossible. I know men with guns, and people who shoot recreationally (clay pigeons, firing ranges) and people who hunt (rabbits, squirrels, vermin on their farms). I once dated a boy who thought a romantic walk held room for shooting squirrels, shotgun over his shoulder and other arm through mine.

I don’t like guns. I don’t like them at all.

Its not impossible to buy a gun here but it is very hard and the last time we had a mass shooting was (I had to pause to look this up) in 2010. Twelve people died and eleven were injured and I can’t help but wonder if maybe that death toll is significantly lower than those coming out of American mass shootings because of the fact that a shotgun takes time to reload after each blast; you aren’t buying military surplus here.

I am one of the very few people I was at school with who did not learn how to use military rifles by the way. Because that is something they will train actual children in in the UK. Combined Cadet Forces, look it up. I took archery instead. My aim is appalling.

Also I don’t like guns. I said that already but it bears saying again.

“You must also prove to the chief officer of police that you’re allowed to have a firearms certificate and pose no danger to public safety or to the peace.”

Sometimes people slip through the cracks. That shooter in 2010 did. But even so.

“A shotgun certificate won’t be given or renewed if the chief officer of police has a reason that you shouldn’t be allowed to have a shotgun under the Firearms Act. Or if they don’t think you have a good reason to have, buy or acquire a shotgun.”

I can hear the crying over the second amendment rights from here. But why do you want to have a gun? Is it to shoot pests that eat your crops or to supplement your diet by hunting? Is it to defend yourself and your family? Because I have to tell you, mostly what having a gun in the house will do for you and your family is get you shot by an intruder. 

Is it for fun? Do you like shooting cans or clay pigeons or targets? Because if it is then I think we can agree that the extra time and expense of going to a gun range is worth not having someone walk into a nightclub and shoot fifty people, don’t you?

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m angry.

I have never worried about being shot by a bigot with an agenda. Not when I took my baby bi self out to lgbt clubs and gatherings, where the worst things that happened to me were overpriced cocktails and boredom with the bar scene. I’m not stupid, I knew there was danger but in  Britain if they’re going to hate crime you its a blunt object, a knife. I took martial arts classes. Learned how to dodge that knife, throw a fist with all my weight behind it, thumb carefully tucked outside so as not to break it. I always test if I can run in these shoes when I buy them. 

I also know what you do if there’s a shooter. Its lie on the floor, pretend you’re dead and hope. A bastard with a knife you can dodge, you can run. Its not a ranged weapon and he can’t take out an entire room before you even have a chance.

fingerprint-649818_1280 copyOf course there’s the purpose of the second amendment. Your trump card. Are you really going to rise up and overthrow your government if it gets tyrannical? Think. The military isn’t going to be scared by a well organised militia, not when they have tanks and bombers and artillery you can’t even dream of affording. The world has moved well on past that time when an armed populace could be a check on the power of the state.

And a man with hatred in his heart walked into a nightclub and killed fifty people.

It could theoretically happen here. There are gun licenses. People sometimes slip through even the smallest of cracks. And of course there’s always a black market for everything.

But there’s a difference between could happen at any time and incredible outside risk. Fifty people died in a nightclub because a man with a gun knew it was somewhere they’d congregate, somewhere that was supposed to be safe. Because that man was able to get a gun, despite his links to terrorism (and don’t think I don’t see you, the ones who want to ban Islam and keep your guns, look up the demographics on domestic terrorism and sit down), despite his acts of domestic violence.

I’m not even asking you to ban all guns. I’ve gone out of my way to demonstrate that you can implement gun control and still allow responsible gun ownership when personally I’d like for them all to be tossed into the ocean. But please consider versus your rights to own a weapon designed for nothing but killing other humans the rights of minorities to live, and live free from the terror that one day a man might walk into their metaphorical home (a club, a church) and kill them all.

– Siobhan Ball

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