Should British people have the right to bear arms just like our American friends? Or is it just too… un-British? Paul Brannon suspects the latter.
On seeing the breaking news about a “shooter” being spotted on the campus of Virginia Tech, the American university which saw 32 of its students gunned down in 2007, my colleagues and I began postulating about America’s obsession with guns, and the culture which underpins it.
We also speculated on the uptake of guns in the UK, in a hypothetical world where gun ownership was legal. After travelling by air since 9/11 and working in a relatively high security building in Westminster for over a year, the sight of armed police officers is not one which makes my stomach churn, but the actual concept of being able to walk into a shop and walk out with a lethal projectile-firing weapon to me is incomprehensible madness.
This sentiment is echoed by my colleagues who sit on varying sides of the political fence and come from very different backgrounds. We Brits simply don’t do guns, unless it’s shooting clay pigeons or real pheasants in the Home Counties. I live in Lambeth, and if you believe what you read in the Standard, I probably walk past fellows “packing heat” on a daily basis, but I genuinely believe that guns would be, for the most part, rejected in this hypothetical world of Britishness.
Granted, some people may buy guns just because they can; other more conservative individuals may identify with the American right’s penchant for arcane concepts of individual liberty, with self defence and the “right to bare arms” being inextricably linked to this. This mantra is as embedded in American cultural identity as obesity and huge hotdogs.
What we concluded after this increasingly heated debate, was that gun ownership would a completely retrograde step in producing a safer society. It would increase the potential for increased crime, more murders, more Raoul Moat style rampages, and more false-alarms. All of which do anything but foster a better British lifestyle or culture.
Would I buy a gun if I could? Absolutely not. You only need a gun in order to potentially kill somebody. If I wanted to do that, I’d send an application to attend Sandhurst. Hypothetical Britain can keep its guns, flying cars, stable economy, independence from the EU, and sensible politics.