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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

News of the shootings at Virginia Tech spurred a conversation in Sarabelle's SOSE (Study of the Somethin' Erother) about gun control. Everyone in the class but Sarabelle thought Americans should have their guns taken away. She briefly tried to explain, exercising her only-valid-in-the-USA First Amendment right, the right of the people to keep and bear arms to classmates living in a country with no Bill of Rights or other protections defined in their foundational documents, and was quickly shouted down.

Freedom here is only assumed. When guns became a problem, most notably after the Port Arthur shooting -- which has been brought up lately with a hint of braggadocio as in "We still hold the record for the most dead by a single crazed gunman!") -- the government clamped down and took nearly everyone's guns away. John Howard's comments in the above link are particularly telling. Certain classes of weapons are allowed and highly regulated, but only for specific activities i.e. pest control, hunting, target shooting; self-defense is not an authorized use. What was that little saying about freedom and security again?

In addition to the reports from Virginia, our big city paper carried a story about a large, licensed public event raided by the police and their drug-sniffing dogs that produced a score or so of arrests. There was no probable cause, the police just decided to drop by. Authorities defended their actions by explaining, "We are protecting the public from themselves."

A week earlier, our local paper announced a settlement to give more than 50% of the shire back to the native owners. The mayor was quoted as being pleased that an agreement had been reached after five years of negotiations behind closed doors.

So, let's see, there is nothing comparable to Second and Fourth Amendment rights, and nothing equivalent to Florida's Sunshine Law. That's three strikes.


Laurie Joyce said...

I think I'd enjoy debating the relative merits of our two political systems with you :)

Got to your blog from the Carnival of Australia

L said...

Welcome laurie joyce!

The US system is far from perfect and the trends of chipping away at those 'guaranteed' rights and increasing ignorance and apathy on the part of the public show no sign of slowing, unfortunately.

The current association between our two leaders has made a noticeable difference here from our last visit five years ago. Time for a change, I think.

I can't help it, rebellion's in my blood.