Last week a small and seemingly innocuous piece in The Times caught my eye. The short panel referred to the fact that Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's right hand man and the Republican Party nominee for Vice President of the United States, had just spent $100 on camouflage hunting clothes for his daughter, Liza, 10, to go with the rifle he bought her last Christmas.
Aghast with what I had just read I blogged about it, commenting that buying a 10 year old a rifle for Christmas was insane, and anywhere in the world that it wasn't considered to be must be a crazy place.
One of the first comments I received was from Jessica who wrote 'If you actually took the time to talk to some Americans who support hunting and the defense of the 2nd amendment, you might understand why, rather than simply judging them as "nuts" and feeling superior.'
Well you know what Jessica? I beg to differ. I don't think there is a person in the world that can convince me that buying a firearm for a child is ok. It should never be ok.
However the fact that most recent polls show 47% of Americans will be voting for team Romney \ Ryan proves that it isn't just Jessica who believes that this sort of action is not only reasonable, but their right.
And the fact that it isn't considered to be dangerous, outrageous or even controversial just shows how normalised buying guns for children must be.
Just imagine for a moment it was Nick Clegg or David Cameron who was buying their little darling their first 9mm. Or picture your own child unwrapping a 36inch, 5 pound gun on Christmas morning. Of course you'd have to do your homework first - but don't worry - there are plenty of websites dedicated to helping you choose the right pistol for your princess. As one of them says 'What better gift says "I love you" than a good, old-fashioned, tried-and-true FIREARM!'
Rachel who recently moved to the US from the UK also commented on my initial post 'The free availability of weapons over here is quite astonishing. I have nothing against hunting ..... however, if you are not a hunter it is very easy to obtain a hunting licence and therefore a gun licence. During August a Seattle groupon gave 54% off a concealed weapon licence - now that surely is bonkers. The normality of carrying weapons is all a bit odd for a mostly gun free country like ours.'
The more I think about the conventionality of it all the more appalled I am.
Whilst the rest of the world looks on in horror at images of African child soldiers holding guns and weapons that are impossibly large for them, we scan past the fact that the possibly soon to be second most powerful man in America is lawfully purchasing similar weapons for his daughter. Even worse - the Amercians are voting for him because of it.
And whilst the great debate rages in Britain about whether our own children should be allowed to play with toy guns and knives, no one seems to be even talking about the fact that American children have real ones to play with.
So, in a bid for 'understanding', let's go back to Jessica's comment - which I'm guessing at least 47% of American's agree with - and let's examine what that second amendment actually says.
Well the wording itself is somewhat confusing "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." Which doesn't really help does it? However in 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 'confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense.'
This makes things a little clearer, but I'm guessing not every 10 year old actually grasps what should be deemed 'self-defense'. Let's just say I'd hate to get in a playground fight with an American kid.
And even adults aren't immune to getting things wrong on occasion but - 'oops, too late.'
Basically what this tells me is that you can buy a gun if your intentions are lawful. So examine that conscience of yours one more time and then hand over that credit card young man.
It actually gets worse though. The same court also ruled 'that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right.'
So here's the lesson kids - straight from the Supreme Court of America - 'You have a right to own a gun. Go buy a gun. Use it if you ever need to shoot someone who's threatening you. Oh, and don't bother going to too much trouble keeping it safe - because that just wouldn't be fair on you now would it?'
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