Archive for July, 2008

The UN is the gun-owner’s friend

July 26, 2008

There was an interesting piece on The Volokh Conspiracy by Dave Kopel (July 21st, 2008.) on the United Nations and their anti-gun ownership activities.

Kopel references a posting by Kenneth Anderson over at Opinio Juris who critiques an article by CJ Chivers, titled “US Position Complicates Global Effort to Curb Illicit Arms“.

Chivers reports on a UN sponsored meeting held recently with Diplomats from the world’s governments discussing agreements to reduce the “global illicit trade in small arms”, but notes that their “work was curtailed in part by the near-boycott of the meetings by the United States”.

Chivers writes:

…. initiatives toward a more comprehensive and binding agreement have been vehemently opposed by gun-owner organizations. The National Rifle Association, America’s largest gun lobby, has labeled the process a thinly masked effort to undermine lawful civilian gun ownership and urged the United States to resist the measures.

The United Nations and advocates of gun control have said that such fears are unfounded, and that there is no effort to impose standards on nations with traditions of civilian ownership, or to restrict hunting. The programs, they said, apply largely to areas suffering from insurgencies or war.

“States remain free to have their own national legislation,” said Daniel Prins, chief of the Conventional Arms Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. “This document does not try to regulate gun ownership in the whole world. This is an instrument that allows states to focus on regions in conflict and the weapons that illicitly get there.”

But Anderson rightfully points out that to accept this statement from the UN official is to ignore the history of other other actions by the organization.

If one goes back to many of the broader documents that have been produced by the UN itself, it is pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that the intention over the long term is gun control at the domestic level. To refer to “this document,” while leaving aside all the other documents of which “this document” is one in a series is, well, not reportage as I understand it, but artful brief-writing. The article quotes Rebecca Peters, head of one of the leading international advocacy organizations favoring restrictions; but it does not quote perhaps her most famous comment in recent years that “we want to see a drastic reduction in gun ownership across the world.”

As well, Anderson has been there personally.

The movement toward a small arms and light weapons treaty got going in the wake of the landmines ban treaty; it was a natural follow-on for the then-ascendent global civil society movement. But I recall sitting in meetings of landmines advocates talking about where things should go next; I was director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division, with a mandate to address the transfer of weapons into conflicts where they would be used in the violation of the laws of war, and small arms were the main concern. I was astonished at how quickly the entire question morphed from concern about the flood of weapons into African civil wars into how to use international law to do an end run around supposedly permissive gun ownership regimes in the US. I recall remarking with dismay in all those early meetings, back when it was still closely linked to the landmines ban community, that this treaty had a reasonably good, if still small, chance of accomplishing something worthwhile, provided that it was identified as being about exceptional situations – civil wars and failed states – and was not about domestic laws in countries that were perfectly capable of setting their own terms.

That was good strategic advice, regardless of what one thought of the substantive issue – but it was swept away in the lemming-like tendency of advocacy movements to grow their appetites with the eating. The craziest person in the room all too often winds up controlling the agenda; this is sometimes true of global civil society and advocacy movements as well.

“The craziest person in the room all too often winds up controlling the agenda”? Seems to me I’ve sat in on some of those meetings myself!

Kopel goes on to detail some of the UN’s pro-gun statements on gun ownership.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the U.N. remains quite interested in constricting lawful gun ownership. Consider, for example, the United Nations Disarmament Programme’s publication, How to Guide: Small Arms and Light Weapons Legislation. The publication touts the importance of international “harmonisation” of gun laws. According to the United Nations:

Citizens should only be allowed to own guns if they are given a government permit, and the permit should only be issued if there is a “good reason” for posssession or or “genuine need.” In particular, permits to own guns for self defense should not be issued unless the applicant proves taht he is in immediate danger.

The law require “safe storage”, which means that firearms should be disassembled and the ammunition ammo stored separately.

There should be frequent renewal procedures to assure the owner’s continued eligibility. A good example is provided by Australia, which for most gun owners (except farmers) requires membership in a sports club, and participation in a minimum number of shooting events annually.

A firearms license should be contingent on the consent of the person’s spouse or former partner.

All firearms should be registered on a centralized computer system.

The home and vehicles of a gun owner should be subject to official inspection “at will.”

He ends with the comment:

It was certainly a relief to find out that the U.N. has no interest in restricting the gun rights of Americans.

Unfortunately the propensity for speaking out both sides of the mouth is not limited to the UN. Domestic anti-gun groups (including government bureaucrats and politicians) do it equally well and animal rights groups do it regarding hunting issues without a trace of embarrassment.

There are a lot of devious people out in the world spinning their own agendas. A good rule to follow is to listen but always investigate.

Toronto the shady

July 21, 2008

Toronto has decided (I’m not making this up) that they may have to regulate shade in City parks.

City bureaucrats will fan out across Toronto this summer to analyze the angle of the sun at different times of the day, measure the amount of direct or reflected sunlight and assess the “quantity and usability” of shade in parks, playgrounds and pools.

The “shade audits” are part of a pilot project authorized by city council this week that could soon result in Toronto regulating shade.

A future policy could dictate the ratio of shade required based on the number of children that typically play in an area–and not just from trees, but from city-built special canopy structures, screens and sails.

Supporters of the initiative argue that with soaring rates of skin cancer caused by exposure to UVA and UVB rays in sunlight, the city has a duty to shield children using its parks far beyond the usual measures of sunblock and protective clothing.

They can’t solve their crime problem in the City so they have decided to solve the problem of sunlight instead.

There were those on Council who were dubious. Two of them to be exact. Out of 27.

But some skeptical members of city council warned the idea defies common sense.

“It’s naive to think that if we put all this infrastructure in our parks they won’t be impacted by the rays of the sun,” said a right-of-centre critic, Councillor Karen Stintz.

“They walk outside, they walk down the street, they go up north, they go on holiday. If we’re really interested in protecting children from the rays of the sun, it’s an educational process, it’s not about putting umbrellas in parks.”

Ms. Stinz attempted at Thursday’s council meeting to cancel the shade audits, saying public education could accomplish the same goal. But only one other councillor, Peter Milczyn, voted against the plan, which passed 27-2.

Note that Councillor Stintz (or ‘Stinz, depending on which spelling in the article is correct) is characterized as being “right of centre”. Couldn’t they have called her a “common sense critic”? Maybe the two phrases have the same meaning. It’s a code!

I would think that it would be easier for Mayor Miller to simply place a ban on sunlight in the Parks. That seems to be his modus operandi.

Thanks to Small Dead Animals for the pointer.

The 2008 Open: No fairytale ending

July 20, 2008

The fairytale ending for the 2008 Open championship didn’t happen. Greg Norman, with an opportunity to be the oldest major winner in history at the age of 53 was unable to rise to the occasion. Norman ended in a tie for 3rd place which, all things considered, was remarkable, but in the end there were too many errant drives and some putts that looked as though they were going to find the bottom of the cup but found a way to stay out.

Regardless, I was surprised that a number of commentators picked Norman to win the Open even though he had the 54 hole lead going into Sunday’s final round.

Not that Norman isn’t incredibly fit and obviously still has the skills and the talent to post good scores. It’s just that there are reasons why there aren’t 50 year-olds dominating at the majors – or any other PGA tournament for that matter.

I personally think that the reason a player’s game slips as he gets older is not so much due to the loss of physical skills, but comes down to the wear and tear on the mental skills. It just gets more and more difficult for a golfer to maintain the level of concentration required to win over the four days of competition.

It would be tough enough under ideal conditions, but at Royal Birkdale they had just completed three days of play battling gale force winds, which is akin trying to compete at the highest level while trying to ignore some ignorant clod intent on trying to shove you off the course. That’s difficult enough for a 20 year old to contend with over four days and a decided disadvantage for a 50 year old. It boils down to the fact that as you get mentally tired you start to make unforced errors.

But in the end, Norman didn’t lose the Open. Padraig Harrington won the tournament coming on strong on the back nine and making a marvelous eagle on the 17th to put a cap on it.

One thing that Norman can take solace in is that only 6 golfers shot under par on Sunday, with Harrington posting a 69. The only other sub-par round in the top 10 was Ian Poulter who placed second. For the other 4 it was too little too late.

In the end, Norman would have needed to shoot a par 70 on Sunday to win and only 2 golfers were able to post that score. Which means that with 83 golfers competing on Sunday only 8 were able to shoot par or better.

Putting it all into perspective Greg Norman had one hell of an Open regardless of his age.

Heller and the sky is falling!

July 20, 2008

When the Heller decision came down square on the side of the ‘right to own’, there was immediately a cry of anguish from the gun-banners. According to articles and editorials that popped up in the MSM blood would run in the streets. The sound of gunfire throughout the land would strike terror into the hearts of the citizenry. A pall of death would ascend over the land.

US News and World Report:

Officials in urban areas like Washington should brace themselves for more violence. Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago likened the decision to a return to the days of the Wild West, with shootouts as the way to settle disputes.

The Kingston Whig Standard:

It’s amazing how well-educated, intelligent people can so often do stupid things.

Consider, for instance, the United States Supreme Court’s decision to shoot down the 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington, D. C., last week, declaring it unconstitutional.

By a 5-4 margin, the nine justices effectively ruled every American has the right to own guns for self-defence and for hunting.

The U. S. Supreme Court is free to make whatever rulings it likes, but it seems a shame that so many people with Ivy League educations have arrived at a decision that will result in more murders and suicides throughout America, and possibly even Canada.

Add to that an inevitable increase in children playing with guns dying needlessly and you have a truly tragic result.

The Chatham Daily News:

Washington has one of the highest rates for violent crime in the U. S. — quite ironic considering it’s the U. S. capital. And now the gun laws there are much more liberal than they were for the past three-plus decades.

This could feasibly lead to an increase in the number of handguns in the wrong hands in Washington — be it an outright criminal or gang member, or just an irate citizen.

Daily Kos:

It’s fine to be a Second Amendment absolutist. But we predict that Scalia’s majority opinion in the Heller case, allowing everybody to keep loaded and accessible guns in their homes, will cause many more deaths of innocent Americans than the Boumediene opinion that Gitmo prisoners are entitled to court hearings.

Chicago Sun Times:

Thursday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision gutting a Washington, D.C., handgun ban can best be viewed, from Chicago’s perspective, as a tax on Chicago citizens.

A tax to be paid in blood and money.

******

A handgun “is easier to use for those without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the 5-4 opinion.

Handy for self-defense.

Also handy for blowing a spouse’s brains out during a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Or for blowing your own brains out, when life becomes too much to bear.

Or accidentally shooting yourself as you go downstairs to check out a suspicious noise.

Which of those scenarios is more realistic in everyday life?

The court’s decision will only, in the end, help criminals, by putting more guns out into society.

These are semi-hysterical comments made by commentators who have no knowledge or understanding of the facts or the statistics on gun ownership in the US.

Consider that a 2004 telephone survey determined that there were 42 million US households with firearms, and 57 million adult gun owners. Of those, 64% of gun owners or 16% of American adults reported owning at least one handgun. It was also estimated that there were 192 million working firearms in the US in private hands

Now given those figures, if you truly believed that the mere availability of a gun in a household would inevitably lead to violence, you would expect that on your way to the corner store you would be stepping over dead bodies in the street. Even more so considering that a large number of States now allow citizens to transport a handgun on their person either with concealed or open carry.

However, an NRA fact sheet from 2007 shows the following:

The number of privately owned guns in the U.S. is at an all-time high, and rises by about 4.5 million per year. Meanwhile, the nation’s violent crime rate has decreased 38% since 1991. Below, statistics from 1981 forward are from the National Center for Health Statistics, while those prior to 1981 are from the National Safety Council. The NCHS’ annual numbers, rates and trends of common accidents and selected other causes of death, for the U.S., each state, and the District of Columbia, are available on the NRA-ILA website in spreadsheet format.

Firearm accident deaths have been decreasing for decades. Since 1930, their annual number has decreased 80%, while the U.S. population has more than doubled and the number of firearms has quintupled. Among children, such deaths have decreased 89% since 1975.

  • Firearm accident deaths are at an all-time annual low, while the U.S. population is at an all-time high. Therefore, the firearm accident death rate is at an all-time annual low, 0.2 per 100,000 population, down 94% since the all-time high in 1904.
  • Today, the odds are a million to one, against a child in the U.S. dying in a firearm accident.
  • Firearms are involved in 0.6% of accidental deaths nationally. Most accidental deaths involve, or are due to, motor vehicles (39%), poisoning (18%), falls (16%), suffocation (5%), drowning (2.9%), fires (2.8%), medical mistakes (2.2%), environmental factors (1.2%), and bicycles and tricycles (0.7%). Among children: motor vehicles (45%), suffocation (18%), drowning (14%), fires (9%), bicycles and tricycles (2.4%), falls (2%), poisoning (1.6%),environmental factors (1.5%), and medical mistakes (0.8%).

Given all that, it is difficult to believe that the Heller decision will result in an increase in gun violence in the DC. And if that is the case maybe it will force the Mayor and his Council to look at the real reasons for their current crime rate and end their misguided efforts to cover their failed policies by placing the blame on the tool rather than the criminals misusing that tool.

So much for the asterisk thing

July 19, 2008

Forget all of the pre-Open droning about how the winner of the tournament would have to live with the fact that his achievement would be somehow downgraded by the absence of Tiger Woods in the field. Instead, the golf has been compelling to watch and the eventual holder of the Claret Jug will be very proud that he stayed the course under brutal conditions. So far it has not been the matter of trying to beat the other golfers; it has been trying to beat the course and the conditions. Or at least hold your own.

The Thursday Rocco Mediate story went to the back burner, to be replaced by the Friday and Saturday Greg Norman story.

Here we have the 53 year old ex-superstar leading the event after 54 holes. This probably wouldn’t be the case if the winds were less than hurricane force and players could bomb their drives down the center of the fairways and lob wedges into the greens. Instead the drives get blown off course into the punitive rough and the putts are guess and by golly with the wind providing its own preferred direction.

Which can sometimes work to a golfer’s advantage with one of Norman’s birdie putts being destined to slide by the hole when a gust of wind sent it sharply right in the cup.

Norman’s 2 over par 72 was a great score under the punishing weather conditions which makes the par 70s shot by Simon Wakefield, Ben Curtis, Henrik Stenson and Davis Love phenomenal.

We can only wait and see what the course doles out on Sunday and whether Norman can hold it together for a 4th day.

In the meantime both Phil Mickleson and Colin Montgomery sucked it up to make the cut on Friday. John Daly crashed and burned with an 80 on Thursday to be followed by an 89 on Friday.

The most bizarre moment of the Open was at the pre-tournament interview with John Daly where he complained that Butch Harmon had ruined his life. I was surprised as I thought that John had accomplished that feat all on his own.

Regardless, the final round will be interesting especially if the high wind conditions continue. If Saturday is any guide the final outcome will be decided by who backs up the least rather than who shoots the lights out. But then it is golf and you never know.

A bit of sanity returned to Britain?

July 18, 2008

Just when I was sure that Britain was completely a lost cause, this article gives one hope.

HOME OWNERS and others acting in self-defence were yesterday given the legal right for the first time to fight back against burglars and muggers free from fear of prosecution.

They will be able to use force against criminals who break into their homes or attack them in the street without worrying that “heat of the moment” misjudgments could land them in court.

Under the new laws, police and prosecutors will have to assess a person’s actions based on their situation “as they saw it at the time” even if in hindsight it might be seen as unreasonable.

Then there was this small concession earlier in the year for olympic class shooters.

The British government relaxed gun laws Tuesday to allow shooting teams to prepare for the 2012 London Olympics.

Britain banned handguns in 1997 after the massacre of 16 children and a teacher at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland. The law includes a ban on guns for licensed sports, preventing domestic pistol events.

But home secretary Jacqui Smith has invoked special exemptions in England and Wales. A similar exemption allowed pistols to come into Britain for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

“(Smith) has agreed to use her powers under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 to allow a small squad of elite GB Olympic pistol shooters to train in this country ahead of the Olympics in 2012,” Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said in a written parliamentary answer. “Scottish ministers have agreed, in principle, to exercise their powers in a similar manner.”

Well I said it was small. Also only for ‘elite’ shooters. But what the heck, it’s something from a country that seems hell-bent on removing as many citizens rights as possible. It’s amazing how bringing the Olympics into the picture changes the mindset.

But then on a more cynical note, the self-defence provisions may be necessary if the Brit government were to follow through on the leaked report that police would be allowed as long as 3 hours to attend emergency situations and 3 days for other police action.

Guidelines ordering police to respond to emergency calls within three hours and to attend less urgent incidents such as burglaries within three days have been drawn up by the Home Office.

The astonishing proposals were designed as ‘national standards for local policing’ in England and Wales.

They laid down a three-hour target for officers to reach an incident which ‘requires policing intervention’.

And they allowed police to wait a leisurely three days where ‘there is less immediate need’ for their presence.

The leaked draft targets were to be included in the Government’s long-awaited Green Paper on police reform.

But after a barrage of criticism from the Opposition yesterday – which accused the Government of being out of touch with the public – Home Office officials insisted the targets will not appear in the final version of the paper when it is published tomorrow.

The “meet your attacker” plan also apparently drifted away into never-never land once it came in contact with the winds of public outrage,

The apparent disarray follows Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s startling U-turn over proposals to force knife-crime offenders to confront victims in hospitals. That plan was floated and ditched within 24 hours.

Someone somewhere must have written a book on just where Britain took a wrong turn. Can we blame their muddled thinking on breathing EU air?

Or – scary thought – is this the wave of the future?

The Open with an asterisk?

July 18, 2008

There was a bunch of babble on the Golf Channel about whether the Open, playing this week, has been diminished by the absence of Tiger Woods. I’m amazed that garbage like this get any kind of serious discussion. The question was even being asked of competitors pre-game at Royal Birkdale to the point of asking if this years winner should have an asterisk beside his name because of Tiger’s absence.

If Tiger were playing and missed the cut would the feel the need to stop the tournament then and there?

This is the 137th playing of the Open and someone thinks Woods has redefined its history? Sergio Garcia summed it up nicely when he said that the Open is bigger than any individual player.

I guess if you desperately need to fill in television time you are driven to find controversy somewhere. Even in the strangest of places.

A better story is Rocco Mediate in a tie for the lead after the first day of competition. Now there would be one hell of a story: Rocco, fresh from his epic battle with Woods at the US Open winning the Open at Royal Birkdale. Unfortunately it’s only day one with a lot of golf under tough conditions to go. Still it’s nice to see him there.

Ignorance of the Law is no excuse?

July 16, 2008

A story of a police officer in Tennessee who falsely arrests a citizen for taking his picture, telling him that it is illegal to do so.

A Johnson County sheriff’s deputy arrested Scott Conover for unlawful photography.

“He says you took a picture of me. It’s illegal to take a picture of a law enforcement officer,” said Conover.

Conover took a picture of a sheriff’s deputy on the side of the road on a traffic stop. Conover was stunned by the charge.

“This is a public highway,” said Conover.

And it was not a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy as Tennessee code states. The deputy also asked Conover to delete the picture three times.

“He said if you don’t give it to me, you’re going to jail,” said Conover.

*****

The American Civil Liberties Union would not comment on Conover’s case without fully reviewing the allegations, but told us there is no law that prohibits anyone from taking photographs in public areas, even of police. Taking photos is protected by the First Amendment. Conover is ordered to appear in a Johnson County court on August 6th.

Ash Blog Durbatuluk has strong opinions:

There is no excuse — none — for officers of the law to behave in this sort of illegal, bullying, rights-trampling fashion. As a free society, we simply cannot tolerate it.

It’s not just about the ability for citizens to take pictures of police officers in public places (though that’s important too; see: King, Rodney). It’s about the officer’s behavior — specifically his attempt to bully this man into compliance with an illegal demand, using his power as an officer of the law in the service of his personal pique, at the expense of the citizenry that he is supposed to “serve and protect.” It is absolutely, totally and completely unacceptable for police officers to use the authority conferred by their badges to violate people’s rights in this manner, and society needs to send that message loud and clear.

Unfortunately, this is something that probably isn’t an unusual occurrence.

There was the case of the RCMP officers in Dawson Creek attempting to confiscate two hunter’s rifles because they had their own version of safe storage laws. Then fairly recently a Kelowna man returning from the local range had his rifle confiscated by an RCMP officer who had a similar (and wrong), interpretation of the law.

In the British Columbia cases I doubt if the actions of the officers were vindictive, but regardless, they didn’t know what the law was, invented their own version of the law and then of course became defensive when told that they were wrong in their knowledge of the law.

Unfortunately if you are ever caught in this type of situation you’re pretty well hooped. The power lies with the one that wears the uniform.

Golf that hurts your wallet

July 15, 2008

Golf Magazine has a brief piece in their August issue extolling the virtues of a new course – Pound Ridge Golf Club – near New York City. The article says that the opening of this new high-end course “gives New York public golf something to brag about”.

I wonder who is doing the bragging. The green fees are $235 a round. I wouldn’t think that this is a course that is going to see a lot of local usage unless they are giving deep discounts.

What the hell is it with these inflated green fees? Have we been conditioned to believe that a golf course is somehow substandard unless you are paying through your nose?

On top of the high-end fees it seems that it has also become important for the course to beat the hell out of you. Course reviews in the golf magazines love to tell you how this new 7,500-yard gem will leave you whipped and beaten at the end of the 18 holes.

And apparently you can’t build a respectable course that isn’t longer than 7,000 yards from the tips. China has a par 72 course that measures 8,548 yards. What kind of masochist plays an 8,000-yard golf course? What’s the point of building one other than to use up a bunch of land in the process? Stupid question. The point being, I presume, that if you have an 8,000-yard course it obviously must be worth more to play than a lowly 6,500-yard course; Even though the vast majority of golfers are pushing their limits to play off those 6,500-yard tees.

Maybe it’s a form of madness. Pebble Beach is charging $495 (plus cart if you’re not staying at the resort) a round and apparently has no problems filling out their tee times. Spyglass Hill is $330 plus cart and Bandon Dunes, out in the middle of nowhere is $260 a round during the prime time season. And those are just a three examples. Plus there are literally countless courses in the $150 range, which the golf magazines seem to think is a reasonable amount for the traveling golfer to pay. Their opinion, not mine.

The first time that I went to Phoenix, which is many years ago, I made up my mind that I was going to play the Troon North course. As I recall, green fees were $120 then. But then I played Papago, the Phoenix muni for about $20 and loved the course. I figured 6 times at Papago was better than one game at Troon North any day, so I never did play it. I don’t know what Troon North plays for now other than the fact that it’s out of my comfort range. But I’m willing to bet that the 6:1 ratio still holds.

Whatever; different horses for different courses, or something like that. I’ll leave those courses to those who can justify the fees.

More political stupidity:knife violence in Britain

July 14, 2008

I have to reiterate my old theory that people should have to pass some kind of intelligence test before they run for political office.

Here we have the classic nanny state reaction to a problem. As part of their anti-knife crime bill the British government has proposed that knife attack offenders should visit their victims in the hospital to see the damage they have done.

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, yesterday rushed out plans to bring youngsters caught with knives face to face with the victims of stabbings in an attempt to deter them from carrying weapons.

But a leading accident and emergency doctor today warned that the proposal could lead to a “secondary victimisation” of individuals at the hands of the perpetrators.

Smith said that she believed that confronting offenders with the consequences of their actions was more effective than jailing anyone convicted of possessing a knife.

But the plan drew a scathing response from the opposition parties, who described it as “half-baked” and “ill-thought through”.

Brown said the measure was “one of the ways” that knife crime would be tackled.

“I wouldn’t want people to think there is one measure we are taking alone,” he said. “There will be tougher sentences, tougher enforcement and a toughening up on prevention to tackle knife crime.”

Smith’s measures include visits by offenders to A&E wards where people are being treated for knife wounds, meetings with the families of stabbing victims and prison visits to offenders jailed for knife offences.

An A&E doctors’ leader attacked the idea of bringing offenders into hospital, arguing that patients being treated in emergency departments would be in “extremely vulnerable states”.

Donald MacKechnie, clinical vice-president of the College of Emergency Medicine, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that the proposal was impractical for a busy emergency department, whose priority was the patient.

He said: “When someone is brought in having been stabbed or assaulted with a knife, it’s a very emotive situation. Doctors and nurses first of all have got to assess the injuries and then manage those injuries.

“We certainly don’t think it would be a good idea if then potential or actual perpetrators of knife crime were marched through to see these patients, who are in an extremely vulnerable state.

“It’s tantamount to secondary victimisation of someone who has already suffered a horrendous insult to them. From a practical point of view, working in an A&E department, it’s very difficult to see how this would work.”

The home secretary defended her proposals, as she rejected Tory demands that anyone caught carrying a knife should expect to go to prison.

“I am very keen that we make people face up to the consequences. In my book it is tougher than simply saying there is one simple solution and that is: everyone goes to prison,” she said.

That’s what you want to see when you are stretched out in a hospital bed, hopefully recovering from your knife wounds. You want to see the guy who stabbed you coming through your door. Or as was put by one person:

Dee Edwards, who runs the campaign group Mothers against Murder and Aggression, said: “This is a load of old rubbish, a load of old tosh. As if victims who are lying there dying are going to want to see the perpetrator turn up with their mobile phone taking footage to put onto Youtube.

Not that the brain power on the opposition benches is any weightier. The previous week the Conservatives (according to this article) were calling for jail sentences for anyone carrying a “bladed weapeon”.

The Conservatives, who only last week called for mandatory jail terms for anyone caught in possession of a bladed weapon, dismissed the proposals as “piecemeal”, “ill-thought through” and a “knee jerk reaction”.

And a mandatory jail term for anyone carrying a “bladed weapon” isn’t “ill-thought through” and a “knee jerk reaction”?

You could see what would be coming next on that one: some kind of licencing for people who need a “bladed weapon” to carry on their jobs.

Or the usual convoluted legal description as to what constitutes a “bladed weapon” and what defines a “bladed non-weapon”. Oh well, those definitions could always be thrashed out in court. That always saves writing good legislation the first time around.

Makes me wonder if Toronto’s Mayor David Miller has been talking to the Brits on how to solve their problems or vice versa.

Which brings me around to another question. Why do we pass laws to stop “gun violence” or “knife violence”? Why don’t we worry about violence in general?

Politicians (and others with their personal agendas) call for mandatory jail time for gun crime and knife crime but what about if the perpetrator beats the guy half to death with a baseball bat. Or puts the boots to his victim’s head? Are these “nicer” crimes of violence.

From a politician’s point of view it all comes down to what’s on the front pages of the newspaper today or the lead story on the evening television news.


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