Daily Archives: May 8, 2011

The real threat to the US: gun crime.


Gun control is needed. About 10 000 people per year are murdered in the US mostly by firearm. How many people are killed by terrorism in the US in a typical year? Try a big fat zero. Yes, there was 9/11. There was a bomb in New York then last year. But let’s average that over the past 10 years and we get 300 a year. Most violent death is from organised crime or crimes of passion.

I am not saying ban the private ownership of guns only to restrict them as they are in any other developed country.

Gun crime is a much greater threat than terrorism. However, it is way down the political agenda. The gun nuts are an important lobby. Their caucus, the National Rifle Association, is loud and well-funded. The NRA tries to close down any debate on the issue.

The constitution is wilfully misinterpreted by the gun lobby. ”The right to bear arms shall not be abridged.” This is linked to the need for a militia. They have the national guard as a militia. Private militias are not the same. The US does not respect the right to bear arms in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The right to bear arms already is abridge big time. One cannot take a gun into the White House, a court house, prison or onto a plane.

My ex girlfriend was in Washington in 2003. It was a couple of years after the ricin plot. The NRA gave a talk at the university where this fine young German was studying. A wily student asked the NRA man – if I feel I need ricin for my family’s protection should I be allowed it? The NRA guy was caught on the horns of a dilemma. To argue no to ricin was to breach the NRA’s sacred principle. Yet to say yes was absurd and to endanger the US.

Terrorism is a threat but it gets far more airtime than it merits. I call for a sense of proportion.

President Carter’s ill luck versus Obama’s stroke of fortune.


President Obama ordered the US Navy SEALs kill or capture Osama Bin Laden and as all the world knows they executed this order successfully. ”Terminate with extreme prejudice”, what is the point of this expression? ”Terminate” on its own says it all. It us the typical US military verbal overkill. Obama was warned that the chance of success was only 50-50. It could have all gone wrong with the Pakistani Army noticing foreign helicopters intruding near their academy and the Pak Army shooting them down. It is doubly embarrassing for the Pak military. 1 – they did not know Osama Bin Laden was there or so they claimed and 2. they did not see these intruding helicopters coming. The US military could have killed lots of civilians. The US military could have been beaten off. That was unlikely as they are elite. The US military could have taken a lot of casualties. However, I think the US public would have been willing to accept most of the attackers being killed so long as Bin Laden was taken out.

President Carter ordered his military to launch a rescue operation to get American hostages out of Teheran. The helicopters got caught in a sandstorm. Some of the choppers crashed and the mission had to be aborted. The hostage crisis dragged on and Carter’s popularity began a vertiginous slide because of this. It was a salient factor in his losing the 1980 election.

I do not think there was anything seriously wrong with the plan in Carter’s time and it was right to give it a whirl. Admittedly getting all 50 hostages out of several buildings in the embassy compound at night was a tall order. Killing one man is rather simpler. Likewise Obama’s plan was not much better. Carter was unfortunate where as fortune smiled on Obama. Such is life.

As it pissed on Carter’s parade Reagan was elected. Ok, there were other factors too such as Reagan courting the religious right and the stagflation that afflicted the US at the time. Regaan’s partisans would have us believe that it was to the Great communicator that we owe the end of the Cold War. I think it is rather more complex than that but I do think that Reagan had something to do with it.