If they only had a gun

I watch a fair amount of British television, especially mysteries involving the inevitable and, it seems, ubiquitous murder—or two, or three. I’m enamored of the often bucolic settings in the English countryside, which appears to have escaped the forces of sprawl and ugliness that dominate the U.S. landscape. And, of course, one must see who done it, and it is that often byzantine process that both intrigues and frustrates, as I try to keep track of the many suspects and their relationship to the evidence at hand, stuff that my aged mind frequently misses.

One element of the English crime experience invariably invokes impatience in the American viewer. While British criminals brandish firearms a plenty, the police confront perpetrators with uniforms, checkered hats, and stiff upper lips. It would be so much easier and quicker to dispatch justice at the end of a gun.

Securing its separation from the evil tyranny of King George, the nascent United States charted a different path from England on multiple fronts. One stands out: the ownership and use of personal weapons, aided and abetted by the Supreme Court’s gross misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. What about the militia part, justices?

Given the legal blessing to possess unlimited quantities of weapons, from hand guns to howitzers, an arms race between criminals and police was assured. So our cities’ finest cannot be distinguished from the typical military brigade combing the streets of Kabul.

Moreover, the wielders of weaponry have twitchy fingers, quick to react with a shot to the head rather than reason and surmise. Nor will just a single bullet do. A pulled trigger invites repetition.

I am not at all optimistic that we can return the gun genie back to the legal bottle. There are far too many weapons upon the land whose owners vow to clutch, even with cold, dead hands. Attempts to reduce numbers and usage are met with hysterical paranoia. One gun denied is tantamount to tyranny, and isn’t that what the Revolution was all about?

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