Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Insane in da brain.

A GREAT writer once defined insanity as "being in a minority of one".

But there's an awful lot of mad people in the world, so that probably ought to be adapted slightly to read "being in a minority of one among the nearest 1,000 people".

It doesn't take much effort these days, no matter how unusual your thoughts, to find someone in the world who will either agree or co-operate with you, and the very fact another joins in makes whatever crazy idea you've had more acceptable.

So if you live in America and want to go and shoot an elk at the weekend, that's normal. It's more unusual elsewhere and if you wanted to walk around the east end of London dressed all in orange carrying a hunting rifle, this is not the month to do it.


And if you're a highly-intelligent neuroscience student who wants to buy two semi-automatic Glock pistols, a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and a semi-automatic version of a military assault rifle with 100 bullets in its magazine in the space of just four months, someone will sell them to you along with 6,350 rounds of ammunition.

You can buy the workings for dozens of booby traps and flammable devices and fill your apartment with them. You can research such things, you can try to join a gun club and cause such concern they decide they don't want you, you can order gas masks and body armour and spend thousands of dollars on this stuff.

That's fine. That's not unusual enough to cause concern or questions or flag up your name on a watch list or anything sensible like that.

It's only when you wander into a cinema and start shooting people at random, killing 12 people including a six-year-old girl and wounding 59 with guns that fire up to 60 rounds a minute, that you become unhinged enough for people to notice.

It's only when you dye your hair red and look spaced-out in court that people start to ask if you're mentally competent to stand trial, although a quick look at the local laws shows if you can talk to your lawyer it doesn't matter how bonkers you are, you're facing the death sentence.


And when those things have all happened, the problem will not be that you were allowed to buy guns, or that you may have a mental illness, or any other factor which might in the cold light of day be something which ought to have caused concern a long time before you opened fire.

Nope, the problem will be that so many people died because they didn't have guns too:


Ah yes. The reason 12 people died is because they foolishly did not go to the cinema tooled up with a series of automatic weapons to protect themselves. Silly dead people!

*headdesk*

Lunatics of the US gun lobby aside, let's look at the facts.

First off, the right to bear arms might be 200 years out of date but that's up to the Americans to keep or discard, and either way it doesn't give anyone a right to bear arms at 60 rounds a minute. There isn't really a need for that unless you want to kill a lot of people very quickly, which is why in 1994 Bill Clinton made assault weapons illegal.

That law expired in 2004 and partly because it had absolutely zero impact on overall crime rates, it was quietly dropped. Efforts to reinstate it have stalled not least because every time there's a mass shooting like the one in Aurora the firearms industry which is worth $3.5billion a year ups its spending.

After the Columbine high school shootings in 1999 the gun lobby doubled its political spending. When the Clinton law expired it increased by 17 per cent, and after the 2007 killings at Virginia Tech it went up 40 per cent on the previous election cycle.

Lastly, the figures on spree killings are eye-watering. Since 1976 the US has averaged at 20 a year, every year. Between 1976 and 2010 there were 645 incidents involving 937 killers and 2949 fatalities, never mind the injured. That's 86 or more people dying every year, for 34 years.

Meanwhile people buy guns because they're scared, they bought 25 per cent more of them in the US after the financial crisis in 2008, and the politicians don't walk to talk about how to stop people using guns for bad things because they're scared too.

Different people have different rules for what constitutes 'insane'. But in general terms it means you're not thinking clearly, that your thoughts are unsound, and as a result you've become detached from reality and the consequences of your actions.

I really cannot think of anything more insane than selling someone an automatic rifle and expecting them not to use it on people; than sending thousands of bullets in the post and trusting it's just for fun; or a security service which does not have a computer that flags up suspicious purchases of such things.

I have tried and failed to work out the logic of allowing assault weapons to become legal after they've been banned or of allowing letting 86 people get slain every year when even if you continue to allow standard weapons more of them would survive.

Granted, it is best to listen carefully to the kind of people who think everyone should have a machine gun with them when they go to a cinema, and treat them very carefully indeed.

But while you're doing that, you're supposed to be luring them in to the padded cell where they won't hurt themselves or anybody else.

You don't make them part of the political system with a say in what goes on - not unless all 311million citizens are totally barking mad.

In which case, James Holmes would be better off out of it.

At least they don't all have passports.

35 comments:

JD said...

This American agrees with you whole-heartedly.

Anonymous said...

Since 1960, more than a million Americans have died in firearm suicides, homicides, and unintentional injuries.

http://vpc.org/nrainfo/phil.html

Sarah H. said...

Oh fuck off, already. Your writing is trash and I'm tired of your safe, boring opinions.

Davis said...

Brilliant column, Foxy, one doesn't expect to go to the flicks and not come back due to being shot by a madman who's been allowed to purchase unnecessarily lethal weapons.

roym said...

Good column, though really no point worrying about that mob over the water.

Foxy said...

And a merry Christmas you too!

Matt said...

Jason Alexander (George from Seinfeld) has been getting a lot of flack for his piece about stricter gun control.
http://www.twitlonger.com/show/if2nht

Why though are we focusing on the killer? By all means focus of the victims and their bravery (covering loved ones so they survive) but as this piece from 3 years ago by Charlie Brooker says, don't give similar minded people the idea or oxygen of publicity it will only encourage more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PezlFNTGWv4

As Jason said, both sides of the gun control debate need to sit and talk calmly and rationally about this. However I bet there's one side which won't.

(PS tomorrow could we have your thoughts on a more positive news story rather than the doom and gloom of the last few days - the Muppets dropping the homophobic company?)

Anonymous said...

I've been brought up around guns, coming from a farming community we knew how to respect guns before we could walk. The issue here isn't guns, shooting is a sport and a way of protecting livestock against predators...lets leave the whole subject of shooting Foxy for another blog.
The issue is surrounding the minority that should not be allowed licenses (in the US but also in the UK) and those that are prepared to sell those people guns and bullets. BUT lets not blame guns, how many people are killed each week due to drink drivers, some of which who had already been caught DUI before, but are still allowed a license? What about the landlords that don't fix carbon monoxide detectors -the list goes on. It is about the correct regulations, screening and managing those laws...not the objects that mad / evil / careless people use to kill. (KK)

Anonymous said...

"I have tried and failed to work out the logic of allowing assault weapons to become legal after they've been banned"


"That law expired in 2004 andpartly because it had absolutely zero impact on overall crime rates,"

It's one of those 2+2 things...

James said...

She's not 'blaming guns'. She's blaming the system that allows people to buy assault weapons, or bullets through the post, without enough/any checks in place.

Roger said...

Listen, I have bougfht a gun before and I use it to shoat at my neighbours goat, and he called the cops and they took the gun, then I was to fire off a round and it hits a goat in the head in the nex yard along and the goat dies, am I committing murder or manslaughter, and also what are the chances that the same time I fired possibly someone came passed in a car and shoots the goat in a drive by, and that my shot actually went off and did not hit the goat, or that the goat had a heart attack and dited and it's not anything to do with the gun, or actually has already dropped to the ground dead before the bullet hits, if I can't actually get up to the goat and see if there's a wound in it and if it's a death-dealing wound if there is, and would it be best to just keep quiet and hide the gun. My neighbour isn't home

Anonymous said...

I have no issue with handguns for protection, or rifles/shotguns for hunting but what does someone need an assault rifle for? SERIOUSLY??? Have the Elk shot back lately? This then moves us on to Body Armour, what's that all about? I'm not sure it's true but we are told over here that you Americans can buy armour piercing rounds. Why? Seen many deer driving Armoured cars lately? The ones I feel sorry for are your Police, what's it like to know that you can turn up to situations like this to find that the nutter is (legally!) better armoured and protected than you are? He can fire bullets that go through your armour like knife through butter. The point with the law banning assault rifles is that it should have stood to prevent lunatics like him getting these sort of weapons.

Anonymous said...

I think it's the difference between a civilized nation and a paranoid nation. America is still an impetuous teenager of a country constantly worried about'the other' (native American, red under bed, Islam, etc.) Hopefully there will still be an America left to be free in after they have finished arming themselves to the teeth and killing 'the others' of! the world, often in the name of God.

Gary E. Brown said...

Shortly after the killings, someone on Twitter said this was the reason they always carry canceled weapons and had he or his friends been in the cinema, this wouldn’t have happened.

Difficult to understand how any rational person could believe or even spout such nonsense. But that’s what you are up against.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a fucking nutter

pirate said...

It is not the people that go hunting that are the problem. Never has been, it's also not the people who go target shooting never has been. The US gun laws are stricter than say Canada, Switzerland or lots of other places. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland in the US it is a combination of Psyche, Gun law. Simple things like mandatory training, would be more helpful than anything else, you pass your training you get your license, like driving. While it would appal most people actually having training in gun at school might help in the long run as it would produce a properly informed debate. There is no chance of the US actually enforcing it's constitution because most of them have never read it but like the bible trot out phrases to suit there own view.

EdinburghEye said...

America is still an impetuous teenager of a country constantly worried about'the other'

Oh, can we get OVER this metaphor?

The US isn't an "impetuous teenager" nation. It's a creakingly ancient one. The US Constitution went into effect on 4th March 1789. They had to introduce three amendments to the Constitution in the 1860s to make clear that US citizens weren't allowed to treat African-Americans as slaves!

The reason the US has a rotten, sold-out, corrupt government, stuffed with privilege, where the candidate with most money is the one who wins the election, and the corporation with the most money is the "person" who writes the laws, is because it's a creaky ancient warped country that's badly in need of a revolution.

Pete said...

What if the CIA framed you for killing the goat and took you to jail, but then it turned out they wanted to recruit you into a secret mission to destroy the worlds population of goats in an effort to starve the Middle East? What then, Roger? What then?

Julian Hall said...

The Second Amendment states: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now, a common sense literal interpretation of this would,in my view, link the right to bear arms with belonging to a militia - bearing in mind the time in which the Constitution was drafted this makes sense. Sadly both times this interpretation has been tested in the US recently (2008 and 2010) this view was rejected.

I wonder how it would fare under a Democrat President?

Anonymous said...

Good article. I enjoyed the part where you stated the obvious.
Seriously though, I don't mean to sound rude, but how have you made a career out of writing? Do your parents own a paper?

Anonymous said...

America is in no way ancient compared to much of the rest of th worlds history america has not much history at all, and everything else you said was bollocks as well...so you know......shut up and maybe read some proper history instad of just google a select point.

Anonymous said...

Don't read 'em then, already

EdinburghEye said...

Oh dear. With an educated comment like that, you're obviously an American. Just because you don't learn anything much about the history of other countries, you accuse me of being ignorant? Dearie, Norway has one of the oldest Constitutions in Europe - written in 1807. We are young, thriving, modern nations in Europe, not a fusty old privilege-locked country like the US.

Migimoo said...

I don't think this is 'safe'. I think it's what we're all saying anyway. And that's quite radical, because we're all so scared of being 'racist', that to say these things out loud is brave. I've taken issue with FSF for her hateful opinions about Cheryl Tweedy, but I'll back her on this one.

Soap said...

Exactly! The whole right to bear arms was fine when the Founding Fathers were talking about muskets which could fire 4 rounds a minute at most, and when they were in a war with the most powerful nation on earth, but it's just not applicable now in any shape or form.
I understand that Americans like to hunt, don't agree with it but it's a common hobby, so it's one thing having single shot rifles and double barrel shotguns (similar to Britain). Also small cal revolvers (6 rounds) or handguns (7-8 rounds) if they REALLY want to claim it's for 'defence'. But high powered semi auto assault rifles that can hold up to 100 rounds and be kitted out with a ton of tactical mods? No one legally needs that unless they're in an all out war.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad we don't have a proper written constitution. The yanks keep finding that theirs just keeps getting them tied up in knots.

We should remember that Switzerland has no real standing army and that guns are commonly kept at home so the people can form a militia to defend the Country (as was one of the reasons for this in the USA) but I can't remember these sorts of shootings happening in Switzerland.

We have one of the tightest sets of gun laws yet we've had plenty of mass shootings over recent years.

Clearly the gun laws in the USA are out of control we know the guy who shot the US Congresswoman had pistols with extra large magazines in them, quite why you need that even for self defence is beyond me.

I've used guns when in uniform, you are taught the dangers and proper drills, yet accidents still happen. I really can't see why in the USA you can say own a revolver for home defence or a hunting rifle but to own anything more powerful or deadly you have to have a good reason and pass various tests (such as criminal checks and mental capability etc.) before you could own something. I'd ban the semi automatic rifles. My mate bought an AK-47 (Texas) and 1000 rounds of ammo and just went shooting in the local woods, perfectly legal.

Crazy!

Anonymous said...

If one compares the world to a school playground, the US is the new kid in town. This new kid is big, very big, bigger than anyone else. He's not a bad kid. Not evil, though he does like to throw his weight around and is very suspicious of those who don't want to join his games. The big problem, though, is that he's not very bright. In fact, he's borderline retarded. He knows he's at a disadvantage when arguments arise with brighter kids and will quickly resort to violence if verbally cornered. Occasionally, as kids will, the others taunt him. This he hates and will react with all his strength.......

sinisterpictures said...

Absolutely right, because you never know when those pesky red coats might turn up again eh?

notjarvis said...

It's absurd.

The "right to bear arms" is held up as an important right of man laid down in the constitution (which for many Americans is pretty much a perfect holy document).

Yet anyone who reads that clause in the constitution can clearly see it means so in the terms of a well regulated Militia, which can keep the government honest, and defend against invasion.

Lone people buying guns never fit in the militia category.

Simply put - I've never bought the argument that more guns would help - I find it absurd to argue that a bunch of panicked people all holding guns in that theatre would have been able to stop that tragedy that happened in seconds, or that people firing in a panic, in a crowded theatre, couldn't have brought greater tragedy.

All very sad.

Anonymous said...

My house was built in 1784! We had one of our first civil wars in 1066. Fucking idiot...

Foxy said...

Um, that was an invasion not a civil war.

Roger said...

hey thanks all for your advice, you guys make me laugh! in the end I Decided I Have climbed over into his yard and took the goat and frayed the rope so he thought it had escaped or someone had stole it (you could see the goat from the road), it was that or turn the goat round so it would look like it was shot by someone driving past. But now do you reckon I should bury it or cut it up and eat it. It Would be in in my freezer at the moment if I had done this

Soap said...

I think we are talking about government structure and constitutions here (notice how he pointed out that Norway's 1807 constitution is one of Europe's oldest) as opposed to how long a country has existed under its present name. So considering the US constitution is a few decades older than the oldest in Europe, it's fair to say that America has an ancient constitution.
Also America does have history, ever heard of the Native Americans? Or are you one of the morons who seems to think the US was empty and nothing of note happened until the Europeans rocked up?
So what if your house was built in 1784, you do realise there are houses older than that in the US don't you?
As Foxy said, 1066 was an invasion by Scandinavian settlers from northern France, against the Scandinavian settlers in Britain, that is not a civil war. Who's the 'fucking idiot' now?

Buddha B'der said...

It would be best to turn the goat around to make it look like it had been the victim of a drive-by shooting by some bad muddhafucker. If you bury it, for Health & Safety reasons, you'll have to nick summut off a washing line to wrap it in. And that's definitely illegal. 20 years minimum. And you don't want a fox to come along and dig it up, either.

Anonymous said...

two wrongs just mean more wrongs ! I am not sure if you lot are serious , more guns because folk got killed by someone who had too many ...??? As for the man with dislike for the goat , he should have learned to spell before he could do buy anything , but if he is an example of the intelligence of those allowed guns the i would stay out of the movie theatres schools and high buildings ...

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