FOLLOWING the latest gun outrage in Oregon, USA, BBC Radio 4’s PM programme last Friday afternoon broadcast President Obama’s eminently sensible speech asking how many more times is he going to have to stand in front of the world’s media expressing anger and regrets.
He asked the news organisations to “tally up the number of Americans who have been killed by terrorist attacks over the last decade, and the number of Americans who have been killed by gun violence”, going on to say that “we spend over a trillion dollars and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet we have a Congress which explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially prevent gun deaths”.
The BBC’s North America Editor, Jon Sopel, told listeners that it had only been possible to obtain figures between 2007 and 2013, informing us that during that time there had been 225,386 gun fatalities, and only “a handful” who had died as a result of terrorism. Mr Sopel then referred to Article 2 of the Constitution as giving Americans the right to bear arms.
But in his Letter from America for the BBC in 1993, Alistair Cooke told us that the Constitution does not give Americans the right to bear arms. It confirms upon members of a militia the right to bear arms. We learned that in the early days when frontiersmen drove further and further west, they extended beyond the limits of established law and order so that authority was given to the far-flung communities to form local militias to deal with lawbreakers and protect themselves. Only accredited members of local protection militias have the Constitutional right to bear arms, if any exist today.
If Alistair Cooke knew this over 20 years ago, why don’t the President’s advisers know what their Constitution decrees when he is looking for ways of potentially preventing gun deaths? Sadly, nothing is likely to come of it even if they do.
From: JW Buckley, Aketon, Pontefract.
SOVEREIGNTY is the right of a government to rule without outside interference. This concept was developed about 350 years ago, to bring some sort of order to perpetual war in Europe. This concept had developed to a sort of definition: a sovereign power has territory under it’s control, and is recognised by other sovereign powers.
What has this got sto do with the present? Syria is in the midst of a civil war. Taking a chance on it, Isis sneaks in and grabs territory. Just like warlords 350 years ago. The concept of sovereignty has thus “caused” the conflict in Syria.
Syria is not the only place where people are voting with their feet. Looking after the refugees is the humane thing to do, but shifts responsibility from the warlords. We need to expend as much effort into a new concept of sovereignty, as we do to looking after refugees. Sovereignty is not set in stone, it is a flexible concept which changes as events require.
Those who rule over us; what are they doing? What are the EU and the United Nations doing? Angela Merkel has opened the debate. David Cameron should join her, and call specifically for change in sovereignty.
Tory double standards
From: Daniel Vulliamy, Brigham, Driffield.
YOU report (The Yorkshire Post, October 3) that Zac Goldsmith won the Conservative candidacy for the next London Mayor with 70.6 per cent of the votes cast. You do not mention that this means he secured less than one per cent of the votes of those eligible to vote under Conservative rules.
This is important because the Government professes great concern at low turn-out in trade union strike ballots and seeks to require minimum voter returns as well as majorities of those actually voting.
It is also interesting that the Conservative Party allowed online voting in the election, which is proven to lead to higher turn-out. At the same time, the Conservative government is refusing to allow online voting in strike ballots on the grounds that such voting is allegedly “not safe”, even though it is policed by the Electoral Reform Society.
Could this be why the Regulatory Policy Committee body, appointed by the Government, has described the Trade Union Bill as “not fit for purpose” on this and at least two other grounds?
Most thoughtful voters will reasonably assess the whole of the Trade Union Bill as a vindictive class-based diversion to clobber working people. Lest we forget, it was the greed of rich deregulated bankers which caused the 2007/8 crisis, not trade unionists.
Climate of waffle
From: Matthew Shaw, Golcar.
BOB Watson’s letter (The Yorkshire Post, September 24) illustrated the plethora of muddled pearls of weather wisdom we’re constantly being fed. Honey bees, spiders, pine cones and seaweed compete with meteorology boffins and Met Office super computers.
Weather forecasting waffle is as British as fish and chips, so as long as we have “experts” there will be no end to our confusion.
In recent times, we have been informed that our climate will become, warmer and drier, cooler and wetter, cooler and drier, wetter and warmer. In other words, take your pick.