Gun Control Madness

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I’ve loved my visits to the US but I’ll never understand the religious-like committment that many Americans have to their 2nd amendment right to bear arms. In 2010 I visited Omaha, Nebraska on a work trip where I got an opportunity to mix with gun-toting, Obama-hating, mid-westerners. It’s easy to label people and I may not agree with their politics but they were absolutely lovely people. They couldn’t have been more hospitable.

Being brought up the right way I was a good tourist, respecting their culture and happy to absorb myself in the local customs. I do genuinely enjoy shooting and jumped at the chance when our hosts offered to take us to their local gun club for a shoot. I had to bite my tongue though when they showed me their gun cabinet at home and brought out 9mm and .45mm pistols, as well as an AR–15 assault rifle.

Being able to go to a shooting club and let off a little steam is one thing, walking around ‘packing heat’ or riding in your car with an assault rifle in your boot is entirely another. It’s not 1836 anymore. The west has been tamed. If the mexicans attempt to invade I’m pretty sure the US armed forces and border police can handle it. This conspiracy theory that citizens should bear arms to keep the government at bay is ridiculous. For one thing, I’m pretty confident the government would win - they have much bigger guns.

‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, is the common argument amongs the NRA and other pro-gun lobbies - ignoring the mass of data that shows there’s a clear correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths. Last year guns accounted for 9484 deaths in America, as opposed to 468 for Australia, UK, Germany and Canada combined.

Of course there’s always anomolies. There’s been mass shootings in the UK and the recent massacre in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, both in countries with tough gun-control laws. Some people are just insane and if they want to find ways to commit mass murder they will. That’s no argument for saying gun control doesn’t work though.

The fact is, the data shows that if you have a gun in your home or are around people who owns a gun you’re more likely to be a victom of gun-related violence or accidents. In countries with strict gun-laws there’s less people that have guns and less gun-related violence. It’s not rocket science.

I fully support the right of people to enjoy the sport of shooting but that doesn’t mean you need to keep a gun at home. Go to a licenced shooting club which keeps the guns under lock and key.

Nothing will change after yesterday’s shooting at the Batman opening in Aurora, Colorado. Nothing changed after the Columbine shooting, the Tuscon shooting, or any of the countless other massacres that have took place in America. Certainly nothing will change this year as it’s an election year. Any candidate that tries to bring up such a deeply divisive issue will just get accused of playing politics.

The opinion in Australia regarding gun-control used to be pretty split before the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. The aftermath of that trajedy resulted in strict gun laws and the destruction of 700,000 privately owned firearms. Between 1996 and 2003 the risk of dying by gunshot halved. But that’s Australia, not America. Australia didn’t have the 2nd amendment. As long as 49% of Americans continue to believe that the 2nd amendment is still relevant today nothing will change.

Ashes to Bashes

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With Olympics excitement mounting, it’s interesting to read the Australian newspapers this weekend and see the reluctant acceptance that Australia’s sporting dominance over GB is well and truly in the past. According to this article in The Australian (behind paywall), it all goes back to that minute Jonny Wilkinson drop-kicked the ball through the uprights in extra time of the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final.

For a couple of decades before 2003, you may remember that GB’s record against Australia in most major sports was pretty dismal. Australia dominated rugby (both codes) and cricket, they were way far ahead of GB in the medals tables at the Olympics, and in Feb 2003 the Socceroos even beat England at football in that disastrous game at Upton Park in which Harry Kewell dominated and England lost 3–1.

Boy are things different now. England may still be shit at football but in other sports GB has world-beaters across the board. Just look at golf where as of today, Luke Donald, Rory Mcllroy and Lee Westwood are ranked 1, 2 and 3 respectively in the world rankings, and England’s test cricket team is world number one.

For the aussies it came as a bit of a shock when GB finally beat them in the medals table in the Beijing Olympics. (19–14 in Golds and 47–46 overall), and that will almost certainly continue this year in London. A country’s medal count always gets a boost when they are the host nation, and Team GB have made certain that the trend will continue after an investment of $469 (AUD) million (£312 million) in the last 4 years, double that of the green and gold, and more than any other nation from the 205 competing.

The sitting-down events (cycling, rowing, sailing) gave Team GB the most success in Beijing. That is set to continue in London but there’s also real hopes for the likes of Tom Daley (diving), Mo Farah (5000m/1000m), and Jessica Ennis (heptathlon), amongst many others.

For the Aussies, swimming will continue to be the best hope of medals. I for one will be cheering on local girl Stephanie Rice, hoping she can repeat the haul of 3 golds that she won in Beijing. Outside the pool Sally Pearson is exciting to watch and as long as she doesn’t slip up like she did at Crystal Palace she’s a good bet for gold in the 100m hurdles. Besides that there’s also high hopes in a number of events, including men’s hockey, sailing, and rowing.

On the 14th August, myself, Rach and Lauren will finally swear the oath as Australian citizens. That will give us dual citizenship. Between team GB and team Australia it looks like we’re going to have plenty of opportunity to sing alone to Advance Australia Fair or God Save the Queen.

PCC - Tweets Aren't Private

The British Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has ruled that journalists are within their rights to quote tweets from Twitter because they are not private. The case centres around Department of Transport employee Sarah Bakersville's tweets that were quoted in two national newspapers without her consent. Ms. Baskerville complained to the PCC that she had a "reasonable expectation" that the tweets would only be accessible to her followers.

But the PCC said her potential audience is much wider than that, “not least because any message could easily be retweeted to a wider audience,” the organization ruled. She’d also neglected to restrict public access to her tweets and apparently forgot that Tweets in feed that is not invitation-only show up in a public timeline anyone can browse or search. http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/02/uk-tweets-are-public-info/

And in other news, the PCC ruled that the Editor's Code of Practice was not breached when one newspaper stated that the Pope is catholic and Bears do indeed shit in the woods.