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A Bad Time for Conservatives?

Entry 1478, on 2012-12-17 at 19:41:32 (Rating 4, Politics)

The two biggest items in the news today were the disastrous tropical cyclone which is causing widespread destruction across the Pacific, and the latest in a whole line of massacres in the US. Both of these are not isolated incidents and both should be warnings demonstrating the problems with policies widely supported by the right. Those policies are lack of action against global warming and lack of action for gun control.

There always have been catastrophic events like Tropical Cyclone Evan and Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the Caribbean and Eastern US earlier this year, but most experts (and many non-experts as well) are beginning to see a trend of greater frequency and intensity of these storms which is most likely attributable to global warming. We all agree this is not certain but lack of 100% certainty should not be used as an excuse not to act.

It might already be too late to avoid some of the worst long term effects of climate change but unless we make some effort - and the earlier the better - the worst possible outcome is virtually certain. At the very least people should be prepared to accept that the phenomenon is real and they should stop hiding behind a ridiculous facade of denial. Of course, as the title of this entry suggests, climate change denial is primarily a right-wing defect.

The other item in the news is the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Every time this sort of thing happens (and it is happening more and more frequently) there is a renewed debate on gun control but the pressure groups, especially the NRA, always seem to have the last word and very little ever changes. We just wait a few months and then the cycle repeats. And yes, weak gun control is another right-wing favourite.

There are two arguments commonly used to support lesser controls on firearms: first, it is an issue of freedom that people should be allowed weapons if they want them and is supported by the second amendment; and second, if ordinary citizens didn't have guns they would not be able to protect themselves against criminals who did have them.

I have even heard the suggestion that if more people carried guns they could stop the criminal and insane people who perpetrate these shooting rampages. But already there is almost one gun per person in the US. Since they are quite widely distributed you would expect that occasionally a private citizen might have managed to end one of these rampages, right? Well, according to my research it has never happened. Despite the widespread ownership of weapons there has never been an occasion where a shooting rampage has been stopped by an armed potential victim.

On the other hand there have been plenty of cases, including the latest one, where individuals of doubtful mental status have accumulated large collections of weapons and ammunition which have been far in excess of anything a person would need for self-defence.

There has also been clear evidence that lax gun laws lead to more violence, higher suicide rates, and much greater numbers of accidents. Even if self-defence could be used as a reason to support gun ownership it seems to me that on balance guns are undeniably bad.

But, of course, I should not have used the word "undeniably" because, as we all know only too well, certain groups in society will deny anything, including climate change (as I noted above) and the fact that guns are just inherently dangerous. I mean, this isn't rocket science people: guns are specifically designed to kill and that's what they do.

The more I think about it the more I see how exactly the same misinformation techniques are repeated over and over again in different areas of denial. Cigarette companies say people should have the freedom to smoke and many smokers aren't affected by smoking, global warming deniers say the free market will sort out our issues and some areas of the world aren't any warmer anyway, and the gun lobby say people should have the freedom to defend themselves and guns don't kill people, other people do.

It's all mindless rhetoric and most of it comes from the right wing crazies who would sacrifice anything just to support their warped idea of how the world should work. But surely every disastrous storm and every school shooting must weaken their position, just like the increasing death toll from smoking eventually had to be acknowledged by the tobacco companies. It seems that it really is a bad time for conservatives.

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Comment 1 (3395) by Klem on 2012-12-18 at 08:44:25:

OJB said: “There has also been clear evidence that lax gun laws lead to more violence, higher suicide rates, and much greater numbers of accidents. ”

But Canada and the UK both have really lax gun laws, yet they have low violence, low suicide rates and few gun related accidents.

On the other hand, if Brits and Canadians want to get tighter gun laws, all they need to do is write the law and ram it down the throats of their citizens. They can completely take guns out of their hands of they want to, unlike the USA where their citizens actually have a say about guns.

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Comment 2 (3396) by OJB on 2012-12-18 at 08:44:56:

Can I ask your source for the claim of lax laws in Canada? I have found several sources stating that the tougher laws in Canada would help prevent US style massacres.

I think all western democracies have safeguards to stop bad laws being made, so intimating that the US is more free or better in some way because it allows this sort of thing is a bit disingenuous.

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