Misunderstanding Down Under

Sometimes it can be amusing to read what folks in other countries think of America, guns, and the Second Amendment. What they have to say is generally not very complimentary, but it is consistently entertaining.

This rambling op-ed piece in the Sydney Morning Herald is a prime example. From the title, “Gun lobby scores a win in court,” it looks to be an article about the federal appellate court ruling that finds the Washington DC handgun ban to be unconstitutional. To an extent, that is what it’s about, but that’s only one of the issues mentioned.

In fact, the first half dozen or so paragraphs are devoted to Jim Zumbo. Nothing really new was mentioned here, unless you count this sentence:

After more than 60 years with Outdoor Life, Zumbo was sacked.

Zumbo is, I believe, 68 years old, so if he has been writing for Outdoor Life for more than 60 years, he was certainly a precocious child.

Next, we get a quick paragraph about Mitt Romney’s sudden conversion to gun rights advocacy (and if you believe that, I have a pair of breeding mules I’d like to sell you), and the NRA’s apparent support for him at the Conservative Political Action Conference. His suddenly cozy relationship with the NRA is worthy of it’s own look, but that’s a topic for another day.

Finally, near the bottom of the first page (of two pages total), the topic turns to something bearing a resemblance to the title.

In a 2-1 judgement, the court ruled that the Second Amendment literally meant that Americans had the right to own and carry guns and that governments could not stop them from doing so.

Yes, the court ruled that the Second Amendment “literally” means that we can own and carry guns. A Constitution that only figuratively guaranteed rights would serve little purpose. Likewise, that “governments could not stop [us] from doing so” is also pretty important–a right (whether “literal” or figurative) isn’t much of a right if the government can deny it by decree.

The next paragraph is pretty cool:

The key sentence of the Second Amendment reads: “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.”

Maybe my copy of the Bill of Rights is defective–in mine, that’s not the key sentence of the Second Amendment, so much as it is the only sentence. I wonder what I’ve been missing.

Now that he’s talking about the topic mentioned in the title, Mr. Gawenda (the Herald’s Washington correspondent, and the author of this piece), doesn’t take long to register his opinion about the court decision.

The Washington decision was the first time a federal court had ruled emphatically in favour of the gun lobby’s interpretation and, if the ruling is upheld after the inevitable appeal, it could mean the end of meaningful attempts to restrict gun ownership.

This would surely be a disaster: there are about 192 million guns in circulation in America, more than a third of Americans own a gun and about 30,000 die each year from gunshot wounds, with another 52,000 injured.

Apparently, the “disaster” would be the end of “meaningful attempts to restrict gun ownership.” I would argue that as far as controlling violent crime is concerned, there has never been any “meaningful” attempt, because attempts to rein in the behavior of the lawless, by passing more laws, are by their very nature, meaningless. One would think that Australians would know that better than most (note that both that article and the op-ed piece being addressed here appeared in the same paper).

Sadly, the American love affair with guns is not about to end any time soon.

Hopefully, the Australian new love affair with helplessness will end soon.

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2 Responses to “Misunderstanding Down Under”

  1. hairy hobbit Says:

    I’ve taken a look at their laws. They can’t even own sticks and stones.

    I think this is just more journalistic stupidity/propaganda/anti-Americanism.

    When it comes to anything other countries say, especially the media from there, F them!

  2. madengr Says:

    At least they quoted the second amendmant however it always bugs me that the preamble to the Bill of Rights is never quoted. It puts things into perspective of WHY we have it, which everyone seems to forget.

    THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

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