Guns, what are they good for?

Saturday 1460 – 4th August 2012.

The last 3 Saturdays I’ve written about very happy occasions but this week I’m going to have a bit of a rage so prepare yourselves.

I want to begin by introducing you to an American blog I’ve been following for some time called Motley News and Photos. Michelle, the owner of the blog is highly intelligent, thoughtful, informative and often controversial in what she writes. The comments on her posts and her replies make interesting, sometimes funny and sometimes infuriating reading.

We all know about the terrible shooting in the movie theatre in Colorado. Michelle blogged about this a couple of times and on July 21st in a post called “James Holmes, Batman Massacre | The Mind of a Genius, the Mind of a Killer” which you can read here    Some of the comments ( not from Michelle I might add ) drove me crazy !!   A couple of snippets from the crazies –

“If he showed his gun to a 100 movie goers that looked at him unimpressed as they all cocked and aimed their pistols in the same direction, one thing is guaranteed to have happened….. he would have had between 85-100 bullets flying in his direction covering legs, arms, center mass, and face.  He wouldn’t have lived, and the over all count would have been low if any at all. Obviously if I was sitting in the first row, I would have had a 45 on my side, and the second I saw him pull any gun, I would have point blank emptied on his head.”

Chilling, absolutely chilling.. I’m glad to say many responded to this highlighting the craziness of it. Another ended his comment by saying

“The guns could have been the only thing that kept him from bombing the theater.”

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh !!

On another of Michelle’s posts she tells us about the guns and ammunition he was able to buy

“He bought his first Glock pistol in Aurora, Colo., on May 22. Six days later, he picked up a Remington shotgun in Denver. About two weeks later, he bought a .223 caliber Smith & Wesson rifle in Thornton, Colo., and then a second Glock in Denver on July 6 — 13 days before the shooting. Investigators also found a drum magazine, capable of carrying 100 rounds of ammunition, which was attached to the AR-15 rifle. Authorities also searched the suspect’s car in the parking lot of the movie theater and found more magazines and ammunition. The suspect purchased 6,000 rounds of ammo over the Internet, Police Chief Dan Oates said. All this was done legally.”

Simply unbelievable that he was able to do that!

Many of you will have heard about the National Rifle Association of America or the NRA and following Michelle’s posting I took a look at the NRA’s Facebook page.  Some of the general comments about gun control and the “Right of Americans to Bear Arms” were absolutely terrifying and I put some very measured and peaceful comments on a couple of threads and within 5 minutes they had been removed and I was blocked from posting further. It seems the freedom the NRA talks about did not apply to  comments on their Facebook page !! So you won’t find any dissenting voices on their posts.  Within a few hours the NRA’s website was hidden from view. I can only suppose this was because of all the comments they were getting. It is now visible again but I am still blocked!  They periodically post the following  “Why is the right to keep and bear arms important to you?” which has the desired effect of whipping people up into a frenzy!

I could go on about the gun Laws in America but I am more concerned with the moving of Arms Internationally  ( the 2 are closely related as you will see ) because shortly after I read Michelle’s post I read about the failure of agreement of the proposed Arms Trade Treaty.

Some of you may or may not be aware that there were almost month-long international governmental talks at the UN to discuss a draft Arms Trade Treaty because the laws governing the movement of guns around the world are, to say the least very poor indeed, and whilst I might like to think we could free the world of guns I appreciate that this is highly unlikely ( though worth aiming towards nevertheless) but it’s a fact that there are more international laws on the trade in bananas than there are on trade in conventional weapons. What I hear you say surely that cannot be the case ??  read this What’s the deal with bananas and the global arms trade?

Sadly and infuriatingly 3 world powers namely China, Russia and the USA delayed the possibility of an agreement though it is encouraging that more than 90 countries came out to say it was needed as soon as possible. You can read more about this by clicking this link World powers delay landmark arms trade deal

Obama disappointingly called for more time obviously acutely aware that he is up for re-election in 3 months and aware of the power of the gun lobby in America and the few who make a fortune from the killing machine. This is likely to be put forward to the UN again in October. If he is re-elected would he agree then? I wonder.

I mentioned the NRA earlier and on 30th July this post appeared

“The NRA has stopped the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty – for now. Thanks to our members who made their voices heard by contacting their elected representatives and urging their opposition to the treaty!”  

You can read more about this on the NRA’s own website here

Doubt their power? Don’t ! They have over 1,500,000 likes on Facebook alone and according to its own website they have at least 4,300,000 members

For those in America Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney ( what a clown !! ) is a lifetime member of the NRA. If you want this Treaty to have any chance I suggest you don’t vote for him !

So lets look at who exports most guns to see if that might have something to do with the decision to delay the Treaty ( especially in a recession!)   You may or indeed may not be surprised to learn that America is by far the largest exporter of conventional weapons; around 30-35% so I ask this – Is it in America’s interest not to have tighter controls as would its HUGE weapons industry be threatened?  The likely answer is of course it would and the arms industry tries to sanitize itself and keep support by talking about scientific advancement rather than about the reality of its murderous trade.

Russia is the 2nd biggest exporter at around 14-15%,  with France, UK and Germany vying for 3rd 4th and 5th at between 4-7% each, depending on what report you read.

It is unknown exactly how much China exports but is thought to be around 6%

So just 6 countries export nearly 75% of all weapons.

Any of us from these countries should be shocked and saddened by these statistics because lets all remember one thing and this IS the most important thing –

Weapons are designed purely for killing and serve no other purpose.

I am ashamed to say that I was in 2 minds about the Iraq war because I had a friend whose family had suffered terribly under Saddam Hussein and she was so glad that action was being taken against his terrible regime but I have had my eyes opened. Sadly we are still in a position where people feel the only way to free themselves from oppression is to fight for it as is currently happening in Syria. Idealism is fine but this is terrible reality when governments are heavily armed ( In Syria’s case largely by Russia).

So finally if any of you doubt what the effects of weapons trade and war really are I urge you to watch this piece of video released by Wikileaks.Collateral Murder – Wikileaks – Iraq  it may look like a video game because the pilots certainly behave as though they are playing one but it is not. It is very real indeed.

You will need a strong stomach but I think this should be shown in all schools to help children see the reality so that they can go forward to build the more peaceful world Human Beings all surely want.

Thank you for  taking the time to read this and follow the links, I hope it has provided food for thought but don’t think you are powerless, if you wish to take action there are many organisations that you can join or read about who oppose this trade in weapons and supporting them can help to encourage these countries to agree to an Arms Trade Treaty as a first step to a more peaceful world. Amnesty International who have been fighting for an Arms Treaty for 20 years are just one of them and you can read about them here

I would very much welcome your thoughts on this post as I want to encourage debate

That’s all from Saturday Girl for this week… I’ll go and calm myself down and remember I cannot carry the weight of the world on my shoulders !!!

I should just mention that the photos are taken from the Amnesty International website and I hope they won’t mind me using them.


You can find my photography blog Photomania here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.


27 comments on “Guns, what are they good for?

  1. […] written about the world moving too fast for me, a lot about War and Peace ( no not the book ! ) guns and Wikileaks; discovering anew the activist in me, for which I am grateful.  I’m a great believer that […]

  2. ~mimo~ says:

    a very well argued and thought provoking post Helen!

  3. Arindam says:

    A very thoughtful and well presented post. There are many points in this post, which are so true. Great work.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Thank you Arindam.. I appreciate your comments, if you read this weeks post you will see a link at the top which brings you to a film that is even more thought provoking..

  4. bananabatman says:

    Very true and very thought provoking Helen. There isn’t anything else I could add.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting David… if you read this weeks post you will see a link at the top which brings you to a film that is even more thought provoking..

  5. […] I want to remind you about last week’s post Guns, What are They Good For?  If you haven’t read it and you’d like to please click on the title. I want to add […]

  6. munchow says:

    Thank you for a great, great post. Very to the point. For me the US attitude towards guns and in particular the NRA, is one of the darkest sides of the country. Unfortunately I don’t think it will change within reasonable time, not even with more educational efforts. Too many Americans are blindfolded by the power of guns – and it’s ingrained in the culture. But it is indeed worse that not even the international community is able to reach an agreement on the governing of movements of guns around the world. And of course it comes down to big time economical interests. It’s the military industrial complex that Eisenhower spoke about in the 50’s that governs the worlds trade on weapons. Compare to this regime the NRA is just a little brother. I can strongly recommend the documentary Why We Fight for those who wants to know more about this, it puts everything in perspective.

  7. Thank you for the post. I’m just sick about the gun situation here (USA) and was just chilled to overhear co-workers talking about how we all need to fortify ourselves and get guns. THE WORST THING TO DO! duh. I would also like to add that guns are used in self-defense about 0.19% of the time (19 in every 10,000), during a commission of a crime. The rest of the time they kill innocent people on purpose and accidentally. Any death intentionally infliected is a tragedy.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Thankyou for your reply Plm I appreciate you taking the time to comment.. It is indeed sickening but as the other commenters on this post have said arms are HUGE business across the world..

  8. scillagrace says:

    EXCELLENT post, Helen. I agree with Michelle in that it really is all Capitalist-driven. The NRA is powerful because there’s money in it. Trade in firepower and military power is protected and sanctioned because there’s money in it. It’s not about security, it’s not about a “right”, it’s about money. The moral justifications and rationalizations that are used in the propaganda are spun to cocoon the cash flow. We’re not really trying to “make the world safe for democracy”, we’re trying to make the world subject to our free market economy. If the USA tops the world in military spending equal to the next 25 nations’ expenditures (who are all allies), you can see that it’s not about protecting ourselves from personal threat. That mindset of weapon accumulation is being picked up in microcosms, among individuals, and then it is temptation for every emotional expression. Yesterday there was a shooting here in Wisconsin at a Sikh gurdwara. My question is, when do we begin to dismantle the madness?!?

    • Helen Cherry says:

      All people who are aware need to do their level best to spread the word about at every opportunity Scilla.. and support groups who do likewise.. there is strength in peaceful numbers too.

  9. Great post Hellen. I fully share your ideas about weapons.

  10. Yes, infuriating. I’m with you.

  11. Rachael says:

    I just wanted to say what a superb post this I’d, Helen. I won’t commentfurther as I am in a post Olympic glowing bubble and plan to stay that way until tomorrow. But then I will read this again! In the meantime, jolly well done you!

  12. Oh yeah, I have to comment about that idiot whose comment you posted. He ends with, “I would have had a 45 on my side, and the second I saw him pull any gun, I would have point blank emptied on his head.” What a fool. No he would not have, nor any of the other peacock-struttin’ gun-owners. Oh, sure. I don’t doubt they would have put their bullets in someone, but most likely not the killer. Civilians are NOT trained on how to handle situations like this – being shot at – and every one of them would panic and suddenly, they would think that everyone in that theater is shooting directly at THEM. The police and the military go through extensive training in order to handle situations where they are being shot at – and even then, it’s not uncommon for the police to panic and do something wrong. They have not had near as much training as the military does. So, unless someone who went to the movie was or is in the military, then I absolutely do NOT want any civilian in a theater with me packing a gun. They’re not toys and they’re not meant to use for heroics.

  13. Wow! Phenomenal post, Helen! I learned a LOT about the international trade and didn’t realize there was a Treaty in the works. Just the other day, when CNN showed a cell phone video of Syrian rebels executing Assad’s soldiers (very cold-blooding killings I will add), they further talked about the US supplying the rebels with guns and other weapons. Although the US would not admit this outright, and the closest they came to admitting this was, “guns come from US and allies.”

    As you know, I had been somewhat neutral about guns here in the US. Having grown up in a hunting family, we were raised with respects for firearms. I supported the “right to bear arms” although I did not agree with certain types of arms which are available for purchase, such as what Holmes used in the theater.

    But after a lot of reading and thinking, I have decided that we need to follow in the footsteps of many of the European countries, such as yours, and do away with guns. Gun owners always present the argument of protecting themselves, but I never hear of someone pulling a gun and good comes out of it. Always killing. Oh, and the wonderful saying that had to have come from the NRA, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Although technically yes this is true, I heard a radio host comment about this the other day and she said, “if Holmes had been armed with a club or baseball bat, I can guarantee there wouldn’t have been as many – if any – deaths.

    Then there’s the argument about the black market. Yup, it will always be present. But it is OUR manufacturers that create them. Some folks argue that all we’d have to do is go to Mexico to get guns. Ummm… try the other way around. We are the supplier of black market guns to Mexico.

    Although I would like some sort of allowance for hunters to be able to hunt, especially deer as we have certain areas with a grotesque over-population which causes severe deformities in many of the deer, I think it’s time to rid our country of guns. Will it happen? I seriously doubt it. As you have found, the NRA is very vocal, very powerful, and full of bigoted nutcases.

    Thanks for the shout-out! This is an excellent post you wrote. Very informative.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Thanks Michelle.. I can understand the hunter and farmer argument as being valid enough but this could be done, as it is in other countries, by regular checks and strict control about carrying and storing these types of guns.
      I’m glad to hear you have researched this subject so much yourself over the past weeks as I have.. I have really depressed myself with the whole issue to be honest as I really didn’t know it was as bad as it is.. Am I better to know.. maybe yes, maybe no..

      • It is really out of control here. And I don’t foresee any major changes in the near future – or even in the far future. Like oil companies, too much profit to be made. That’s one thing about capitalism… all they care about is the bottom line profit. The corporations don’t give a crap about the people, the children, the environment, etc. Just profit.

      • Helen Cherry says:

        Absolutely right Michelle.. it’s the 1% again..

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