Sunday, April 27, 2008

BBC: Gun-Crazed USA Is...Heavenly

Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life.

To many foreigners - and to some Americans - the tolerance of guns in everyday American life is simply inexplicable.

As a New York Times columnist put it recently:

"The nation is saturated with violence. Thousands upon thousands of murders are committed each year. There are more than 200 million guns in circulation."

Someone suggested a few days ago that the Democrats' presidential candidates might like to take up the issue of gun control.

Forget about it.

They were warned off - in colourful style - by a fellow Democrat, the Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer.

"In Montana, we like our guns", he said.

"Most of us own two or three guns. 'Gun control' is hitting what you shoot at. So I'd be a little careful about blowing smoke up our skirts."

Democrats would like to win in the Mountain West this November. Enough said.

Brits arriving in New York, hoping to avoid being slaughtered on day one of their shopping mission to Manhattan are, by day two, beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. By day three they have had had the scales lifted from their eyes.

I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns.

"It seems so nice here," they quaver.

Well, it is!

Violent paradox

Ten or 20 years ago, it was a different story, but things have changed.

And this is Manhattan.

Wait till you get to London Texas, or Glasgow Montana, or Oxford Mississippi or Virgin Utah, for that matter, where every household is required by local ordinance to possess a gun.

Folks will have guns in all of these places and if you break into their homes they will probably kill you.

They will occasionally kill each other in anger or by mistake, but you never feel as unsafe as you can feel in south London.

It is a paradox. Along with the guns there is a tranquillity and civility about American life of which most British people can only dream.

Peace and serenity

What surprises the British tourists is that, in areas of the US that look and feel like suburban Britain, there is simply less crime and much less violent crime.

Doors are left unlocked, public telephones unbroken.

One reason - perhaps the overriding reason - is that there is no public drunkenness in polite America, simply none.

I have never seen a group of drunk young people in the entire six years I have lived here. I travel a lot and not always to the better parts of town.

It is an odd fact that a nation we associate - quite properly - with violence is also so serene, so unscarred by petty crime, so innocent of brawling.

Virginia Tech had the headlines in the last few days and reminded us of the violence for which the US is well known.

But most American lives were as peaceful on this anniversary as they are every day.


h/t Instapundit

1 comment:

Frozen Tex said...

an armed society is a polite society; the British used to know this (it was common, accepted, and expected that any gentleman would carry a sword and pistol when out walking).