A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tennessee gun totin' and shootin' from the lip!

In Carry On Cowboy Joan Sims wanders down the stairs of her saloon and saunters over to the bar. She informs the sheriff that "I don't allow no shootin' at my place" whereupon sheriff Sid James says, "Lady, I would't dream of shootin' at your place!".

No such restrictive warnings in the State of Tennessee. Amidst all the pycho shootings and gun waving that goes on in the USA, you'd think commonsense would say that guns in the hands of the uninitiated is not a good idea. Swivelled-eyed marksmen like Dick Cheney will, however, be encouraged to venture out with pistols at dawn. Tennessee is changing its gun laws this week. It is relaxing them!

Soon, Tennessee's bars and restaurants will no longer be off-limits for registered weapons. So any sassy saloon owner can say to the patrons "I DO allow shootin' at my place!". This is all because the 250,000 registered gun owners in Tennessee want to have the extra freedom to exchange bullets whilst drinking. Boy, what a barking mad world it is.

Americans keep on about the right to bear arms as if this is a personal right to run around with sub-machine guns blasting anyone they assume to be a criminal. It's a kind of judge-and-jury package wrapped up in a gun. Of course, the right to bear arms means no such thing. It comes from the right of the local citizenry to hold arms so as to defend the local community against marauders and armed intruders in situations where the army or local police were not available. The founding fathers would have been horrified by the actions of lawmakers in Tennessee. However, any proper understanding of the notion of arms-bearing to benefit the local community has been wiped aside. On June 26 last year the Supreme Court of the United States held that Americans have an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense in the case District of Columbia v. Heller. In my opinion, a retrograde step. So we now have legalised shooters, some no doubt of the Dick Cheney trigger-happy kind, able to take a decision to kill.

In Britain, the right to bear arms was general until the idea of a police force came about. The only person left in the kingdom with the vaguest hint of a private army is the Duke of Atholl and even his Atholl Highlanders are reduced to parading with just pipes and drums. The UK has an unarmed police force for general policing. The United States does not. Even with the arsenals that the local police chiefs have at their disposal, it is still seen as a right to have a gun.

All that said, I shall not be put off visiting Tennessee. It is a lovely state, well worth everything that the people have to offer. It's just that I may have to duck rapidly in any bar that has the misfortune to have a gunfight in it whilst I'm sipping my Jack Daniels!


It's their one trump card against an increasingly intrusive federal government. I take it that you're happy defending liberty, armed with a bucket of green custard.

I go one better than green custard. But the very idea of allowing guns and alcohol to mix is not exactly a fantastic recipe for law and order in my opinion.

The fact that people have guns, legal or not, has given me to appreciate that many Americans are prone to panic in situations of stress and unrest. The mildest problem, from traffic accident to petty street argument, gives rise to immediate uncertainty. Who has a gun and who may use one. That is the first thought that crosses the average American mind in a crisis.

The State of Tennessee has just added to the paranoia.

The Constitution guarantees the citizens a right to bear arms. It was not a misprint. The government must always be aware that an armed revolution is a possibility.

It may be messy, inconvenient, and sometimes tragic, but that right has served us well. Green custard is one poor substitute.

I have never taken it as a misprint. I'm not sure that the US government's concerns about "armed revolution" and the right to have a gun about one's person whilst drinking in a bar are best linked with regard to law and order.

A government has a primary duty to safeguard its citizens. It also has a duty to see that law abiding drinkers, and any other person for that matter, is not unduly distressed by testy gunslingers out to solve their own disputes and hasty judgements.

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