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In a message dated 31/07/2000 15:52:07 GMT Daylight Time, 

>  So what would you do to stop the weapons that are already out there from
>  killing more people?  I think if you craft an adequate answer you've found
>  the formula for world peace and you're soon to be in the history books.
As long as there are dinosaurs out there who clutch their second amendment 
rights in one hand and "True Detective" in the other, the problem seems 
insurmountable.  They're happy with things the way they are, and will oppose 
tooth and nail any kind of a solution that doesn't leave THEM with free 
access to firearms.
Some Americans claim to "need" firearms - because if they DIDN'T have them, 
then civil rights in the USA might be reduced to... the level of the poor 
oppressed masses of Canada.  Suggestions that it would be hard to tell the 
difference would be met with "Liberty is indivisible" and "Give me Liberty of 
give me death!" (Anything to oblige...but sorry, we're right out of 
absolutist liberty this week... it'll have to be your alternative choice.) 
The only democracy in the world that feels such a high level of distrust of 
the politicians that they elect that they need the means to overthrow a 
democratically elected government by force of arms... (Rather than just 
waiting for the next election to come along.)

There's also the "need" to carry weapons for self defence. Strange how 
Europeans manage to survive without carrying firearms - and have lower crime 
rates. British "violent crime" levels are rising currently - mainly because 
of the way crimes are collated. (A methodology that dates back to 1853!) 
"Violent crime" ranges from murder....to "common assault."  Note that "common 
assault" is a LESS serious crime than "Causing actual bodily harm" (if the 
damage done doesn't break the skin or cause bleeding - then it's "actual" 
bodily harm. Next step up is "grievous bodily harm". Common assault is thus 
two rungs down the ladder from giving someone a nosebleed.) Murders remain 
pretty static - the increase is predominantly in "common assault". (If I push 
you "violently" but not hard enough to cause bruising - that's "common 
assault") The worrying aspect of this rise is that for the first time people 
are bothering the police by reporting triviality. 

To reduce the "need" to carry a gun for "self defence", the obvious solution 
would be to disarm the criminals, and make crimes of violence a far more 
serious offence. Disarm them by making carrying a gun "conspiracy to commit a 
violent crime". (You carry it, you must have been intending to use it... 
Using it is a crime... You're busted.) Problem number two - many (and the 
most vociferous group) Americans would rather die (or allow others to) than 
have their civil rights potentially infringed - "Sir, that bulge under your 
arm looks to me like a gun. Please open your jacket... SLOWLY." Is likely to 
be met by a hail of "I know my rights!"

Bottom line, the rights and freedoms exaggerated and enjoyed by Americans 
pretty much guarantee lawlessness as a by-product - and make the situation 
all but impossible to change. Looks like you're stuck with it. 

Strangely, the closest to a solution I can think of is an increase in private 
surveillance. Not "Big Brother is watching You", but "lots of second cousins 
are watching you". A lot of crimes (particularly terrorist crimes) are solved 
in this country because lots of shops and offices use CCTV cameras. Chances 
are good that you're on-camera every few minutes whenever you walk down the 
street., enter a shop, bank, car park... Can't recall the SciFi story, but I 
remember reading one where pensioners carried not guns - but miniature 
VideoCams.  Your chances of "getting away with crime" drop to near zero if 
everything that happens within 25 yards of a pensioner is "taped" - and there 
are big-money rewards for taped material leading to a conviction. (Maybe 
tied-in to a gameshow?!)  I can't think of a better way to reduce US crime 
figures, without infringing rights. Do the crime and KNOW you're >90% likely 
to get picked up within hours - and convicted, and we might see a change of 


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