On guns and anger – a Brit’s view of gun crime

Gun CrimeIf I only had a voice at my disposal, I’d use it to tear strips off you. If I had no arms and legs and lost my temper, I’d bite your kneecaps ‘til you capitulated. If I had fists, I’d punch you. If I had a knife handy I’d probably stab you. And if I had a gun and lost my rag, I’d more than likely shoot you.

As an unarmed woman spitting fur and feathers, I can’t really cause much harm. As a furious female with a gun, I might easily kill.

Forget the red mist – beware the white light

I’ve only lost my temper properly once. It was terrifying. No red mist but a powerful feeling of ascending physically into a light, bright, eerily calm place where time slowed to a crawl. I remember thinking “I can easily kill this person. In this particular moment it feels like exactly the right thing to do.” I completely lost my grasp of the potential consequences and quite frankly, I didn’t give a flying f**k. If I’d had a weapon handy at the time I would have committed murder. I dearly hope it never happens again.

Cross bears, vexed natives and deadly wilderness

Watching the news since President Obama’s decision to get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research and analyse gun violence, the primary reason for wanting guns over the pond seems to be personal defense. From this side of the Atlantic it seems sad that so many people in the US trust their fellow man so little they feel the need to arm themselves against one another. But then again the country’s history of wild frontiers, seething natives, angry bears and other scary stuff is very different from our much calmer past – I guess the need for guns has worked its way into the USA’s DNA.

Gun crime on this side of the Atlantic

Over here we’ve enjoyed rigorous gun control for almost a hundred years and while gun crime is slowly increasing in Britain, it’s still unusual enough to make headlines. Our police still face hardened criminals armed with sticks and sprays, although we have specialist armed police to call on if needs be. As such I’ve never seen a real gun and if I did, I’d probably be paralysed with horror.

Impulse control instead of gun control?

In the USA hundreds of companies have manufactured millions – perhaps billions – of guns over the past 150 years. The majority of them are still in circulation. And nobody knows where most of them are. I imagine the likelihood of collecting them up and making sure crazy people can’t get hold of them is pretty damn low. Mr Obama might have more luck putting in place measures to improve impulse control and anger management than trying to apply gun control to a society so deeply wedded to its weapons.

Aristotle on anger

As Aristotle said two thousand years ago, “Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.” If we all mastered the fine art of keeping our tempers, using anger positively, I imagine life would be a much safer place on both sides of the Atlantic, guns or no guns.

Guns in crime novels

Some crime novels and best-selling thrillers are packed to the gills with shoot-outs, others are a little more circumspect. As a British reader I find I’m more comfortable with authors like Joel, whose characters’ attitude to guns is more like ours. Less gunpowder-fuelled crime fiction, more judicious and reluctant use of weaponry in a last ditch attempt to resolve the otherwise unresolvable.

What’s your take on gun-toting crime fiction heroes?

Do you prefer the full-on violence of a literary gun-fest or something less heavy on the weapons?

Image source: photographer padawan

2 Responses to “On guns and anger – a Brit’s view of gun crime”

  1. Scott Hunter

    My first thriller has an agent who never uses a gun.
    This is what ‘Hollywood’ is saying pre-publication:
    BLURB: This fantastic first novel is an invitation to the secret world of counter-terrorism we only rarely glimpse in news reports. From first to last, it takes us on a harrowing journey through a shadow land of strategy and bluff. Told with the realism of an expert who knows this world from experience, it introduces us to the hidden conflicts behind the news about which we would otherwise know nothing. It will now be impossible to listen to the news without thinking that the real story is being withheld, and we will all be better for knowing what this challenging novel reveals. It is a work of fiction, of course, but it rings true on every page. The hero, upon whose shoulders we hope a new franchise is being born, is a figure of privacy who holds his personal secrets as carefully as he does those he is entrusted with. A compelling read on every page, this announces a new writer of great talent.

    Robert McMinn, Senior Vice President, Lakeshore Entertainment.
    September 4 2013.

    I went to school in Brighton. Cheers, Scott