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Checks and balances..?

By Mike Gaunt

I just googled the contribution made to our tweeting friend in the White House by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

I’m sure I am not the only person to do this, in the light of recent dreadful events. I am also sure that I will not be the only person who is ‘gobsmacked’ by the money involved. More than $10 million to him. A further $20m to oppose Hillary Clinton. That is a staggering amount of money. And the greenbacks don’t stop there. Others are being paid by the NRA too.

Is it surprising that those who receive money in this sort of quantity feel unable to shout too loudly about guns being rather readily available? I think not. But that doesn’t make it right. I know that politicians are lobbied to take a stance and I suppose that inevitably there are times when ‘favours’ for cash, contributions, a holiday in a ‘friend’s villa’ or on a ‘pal’s yacht’ are just part of the landscape in Washington, London and other democracies.

But for goodness’ sake: Surely there are enough who haven’t taken the money to be able to sway opinion? I certainly hope so. There seems to be a growing tide of opinion which is clamouring for a change; an amendment. That’s a novel idea, isn’t it?

I wonder why the founding fathers called them the first, second, third and so on... amendments? There have been additions to the constitution and changes over time, so it’s not as if it’s some sort of heresy to suggest that things can be changed.

It really is too bad, though. People of a certain persuasion bleat “second amendment”, whenever the discussion begins; it is no doubt a complex argument, and I’m no lawyer. Nevertheless, surely the spirit of the amendment, even seen through a modern prism, is to protect oneself: To bear arms in order to keep one’s family, property and so on safe from harm’s way?

I am fairly certain that the spirit of the amendment is not to bear arms willy-nilly; just to carry a weapon around in case you might feel like putting a bullet through some innocent bystander’s head!

It is absurd to further suggest that somehow a mental health issue is to blame. Transparently, persons who are suffering with mental health do not all wander off and shoot others. Similarly, to somehow muddy the water by ascribing the FBI’s lamentable ‘eye off the ball’ mishap to a preoccupation with the Russian probe is just preposterous: I’m pretty sure that not all of the FBI’s 30,000 employees were looking at Russia when a young person was brought to their attention.

It is about time that those who are being bought off are challenged. It took one idiot with a silly bomb in his shoe to make everyone go barefoot through security all over the world.

When do we start to accept that it is the almost unregulated ability to obtain a really nasty weapon that is the problem here, not the responsible gun-owner? Just build in some checks and balances; that’s all.

- Mike Gaunt is a former headmaster at St Christopher’s School, Bahrain

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