Foxes Versus People. Cumbrian Catch-22.

Just how many foxes did Cumbrian farmers shoot last year? Apart from that use, I can’t see any other need for guns in the area. I wouldn’t mind betting that the fox fatality figures weren’t vastly greater than yesterday’s death-toll. So how many dead foxes are a human life worth? How many have to die in our war to defend sheep against the ruthless Reynard Bin-Raider?
Less than 2% of applications for firearms certificates are rejected. This figure is a scandal. Taxi drivers don’t need to own guns. Not as long as everyone else doesn’t. Criminals and chronic psychotics will always find their weapons of choice, given time, but Derrick Bird’s sudden rage was not given that time to cool as he had the weapons to hand. And now 14 people are dead and a community traumatised.
The gun lobby is already making the case that the death toll would have been drastically reduced if everyone had guns. Some public-spirited citizen, or the nearest available police officer, would have wasted Bird somewhere along the route of his ‘killing-spree’, as the TV is describing it. There is no Road-rage in Texas, we are told, because the petulant toot of a horn might get your head blown off. All society is bathed in the warm embrace of citizen-policing and individual empowerment.
This wisdom ignores the inconvenient fact that in those cordite utopias a Cumbria will happen far more often, not less. And one reason for that is that the constant fear of death at the expression of mild irritation will naturally cause most people to suppress that anger. And the results of suppressed anger and emotion are no secret to anyone.
If we really do need to repel the attack of the evil Reynard on our civilisation and way of life, then let sheep farmers own shotguns. Personally, I worked on a farm for ten years and the creaky old single barrel must have been fired at least five times. Mainly to scare away roaming dogs from the local village. But nobody else should have legal access to guns, especially during a period of history which is creating so much psychosis in so many ‘ordinary’ people. And nobody over the age of ten should want to own a gun. To do so is not a sign of a mature mind. And therefore any application can be confidently and responsibly rejected. Catch 22 doesn’t always work on the side of the devil, it seems.
As for the War Against Sparrows, and their evil plans to undermine civilisation by ravaging the nation’s gooseberries, Gardener’s Question Time does not recommend military grade hardware. An airgun or even a water pistol will do the job. And won’t cost any massacres of human life at all. Everyone’s happy except the neurotics with their inferiority complexes. They will have to find another way to over-compensate for their personal lack of emotional growth and indulge their penis extension fantasies. And the arms manufacturers will be upset of course. God forbid we should ever upset them.
The truth is that if Bird had not had any guns, he probably wouldn’t have snapped at all. The nearness of the shortcut solution to his problems was too irresistible. It made it easier for him to snap, because he knew he had the means at his disposal to make a point that no one would forget.
We are taught every day that we are defined by what we own. That our carefully chosen possessions provide us with an ‘image’, and are a positive addition to our armoury in the battle of life. You know. Sex and the City. And the truth is that as an object, a gun is a very beautiful, sensual, compelling thing. It is almost the ultimate conceptual sculpture.
But as such it has does have more of an effect on the owner than most consumer durables. So it is hardly surprising that in the vulnerable, or at the most challenging times, the role inherent in the design comes to the fore,. and the tool controls the user. Just as a beautifully tailored suit will make most people stand up straight.
Why should a taxi-driver in a sleepy Cumbrian town need two guns? That’s all any application process has to consider. There are about 37 million adults in Britain. Statistically, if we all applied for a shotgun or semi-automatic, only about 74,000 of us would be rejected, leaving well over 36 million guns in legal circulation.
While violence among the mentally ill is no greater than in the general public, neither is it any less. And that figure is much bigger than the paltry 2% rejection figure for gun ownership. And anyone can go insane as Derrick Bird did. Owning a gun might even have caused his problem, as well as seeming to solve it.
There but for the grace of god go I.
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