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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

And now for something completely different…

Yesterday evening I was present at a very interesting gathering that took place in the City of London.

It was, or at least appeared to be, a joint venture between the American NRA and the NRA of Great Britain (yes, we do have one).

I have not attended anything like this before. The format was that of a TV chat show which was hosted by a representative of the American NRA who fielded questions to, and took replies from, an almost entirely British audience. The event was filmed by an American production company and will, in due course, be edited into an info-mercial for distribution in the USA designed to press home to an American audience the folly and dangers of apparently ‘reasonable’ gun control measures.

It was a remarkably well-informed audience. Many of them were former shooters and gun-owners and, without exception, they were able to recount, by reference to both historical data and relevent legislation, the way victim-disarmament had started in the 1920’s as merely sensible measures to remove the ‘most dangerous’ weapons from society and, over the years, chip by chip, step by step, measure by measure, the disarmament programme advanced up to 1997 when all handguns were prohibited along with every other potentially life-saving tool (e.g. pepper sprays). Emphasised too, was the political and legal slippery slope which has resulted in a situation in Britain today where acting in genuine self-defence is classified as serious crime.

On the face of it, this is an exercise which will benefit Americans not Britons but, on a deeper level, it will benefit Brits as well because events like this bring together those too-few Britons who still believe in a right of self-defence and spurs them on to greater levels of mutual education and political activism. That is how things change.

I detected not the merest hint of a defeatist atmosphere last night. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that the self-defence movement in Britain, albeit still small, has been galvanised to an unprecedented degree.

10 comments to And now for something completely different…

  • The American NRA is correct in its conclusions but sometimes misleading in its arguments. Hopefully, this debate did not get into fearmongering of “they’ve taken away our guns (with no explanation of why this is bad)” or “totalitarian states take away people’s weapons (which strikes me as a very stretched analogy).” One must be careful to be completely logical supporting one’s views, as bad arguments ultimately hurt your point.

  • (ok, so I switched between ‘one’ and ‘you’. oh well)

  • S. Weasel

    Hm. The only argument I can think of that the NRA gets badly wrong is to push for more stringent enforcement of current US gun laws. By this tactic, they hope to stave off the creation of additional law. Real gun-totin’ loonies hate that – they want most of the current law repealed.

    That’s why it’s so amusing that the NRA is considered emblematic of wild-eyed radical right-wingery. In fact, it’s mostly a big group of mild-mannered, mainstream, patriotic old doofuses who used to hunt twenty years ago.

  • I can definitely see that I might have been conflating NRA and other, perhaps Objectivist, arguments against gun control. Anyways, whoever said them, the arguments I said are silly. And the argument noted above by Mr. Weasel (unfortunate name, dear. [if it's real]) is also kinda funny. Choose one side or another, unless you think that current regulations happen to be the exact right amount of gun control.

  • No, I’ve heard both of these arguments on late-night infomercials for the NRA.

    They took away pepper spray? Why would anyone think of doing that? That doesn’t even have the “x people per year die of pepper-spray related causes” schtick that anti-gun people like. Ok, there were a number of trampling deaths apparently caused by pepper spray in Chicago a few days ago, but that’s obviously a special case.

  • The relationship of the NRA to the rest of the U.S. pro-gun movement resembles the relationship of the Republican Party to the libertarian movement. There is a lot of common ground, but in both cases the bigger organizations tend to be good with political tactics and bad with ideology and long-term strategy, while the reverse is true for the smaller organizations.

  • Kevin

    Actually, Malex, disarming the populace is an almost universal goal of totalitarian regimes.

    Whether this is due to some tangible fear of armed insurrection, or just part of the normal impulses of the dirigiste state, is sometimes hard to tell.

    However, there is no doubt that throughout the past 100 years, some dictatorships have actively removed firearms from those citizens they considered to be dangerous or undesirable.

    In general, an armed populace is less easily cowed than an unarmed one. And secret police are much more willing to kick in doors when they know there won’t be anyone shooting at them.

  • S. Weasel

    the bigger organizations tend to be good with political tactics and bad with ideology and long-term strategy, while the reverse is true for the smaller organizations

    Good observation.

    I’ve heard it said that the current NRA leadership is the result of a schism a few years back, between the politically expedient and the more radical ideologues. Expedience won.

    Hey, I still send them my $20 a year. It’s worth it to annoy their opponents, and they make great t-shirts.

    My personal favorite, though, has to be Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. They’re blunt, aggressive, use incredibly cheesy and unsubtle graphics, and leftists haven’t the faintest idea how to argue with them without being wildly un-PC. Merely learning of the existence of the JPFO has been known to make a liberal’s head explode.

  • Martyn

    I cancelled my membership of the NRA and joined the NRA (USA) several years ago although I live in the UK. Why? The telephonist at the NRA (USA) is more proactive and enthusiastic about the sport of shooting than most of the organisation in the UK put together. The amount of donations the various organisations sucked out of the disillusioned British shooters was phenomenal. We are still divided and downtrodden in all media presentation, be it Olympic, Commonwealth or National level. What incentive does that give to the next generation of champions?

  • Kevin –
    Yes, that is most definitely a property of totalitarian regimes. However, this observation does not prove that any govt. that engages in weapons control is a totalitarian regime. Stretched analogy.