As we all know, the United States Bill of Rights states that "every citizen has the right to bear arms" etc. The dicussion of the American Founding Fathers on this topic is well documented. The clause was included because Jefferson and others were astute enough to realize that an armed population would not as easily be subjugated by the recently instituted centralized power created by the United States Constitution. They would be more difficult to oppress and keep in check, should the population feel that their freedoms were being impinged upon. This may very well have been true in the late 18th century, where armies fought each other using primitive rifles and cannons. A population armed with rifles could quite possibly put up a decent fight, even against a regular government army. But today, it seems to me as though the situation has changed. The armies of modern states are equipped with sophisticated technological equipment: tanks, heat-seeking missiles, sattelites, global positioning systems, stealth fighters, nuclear bombs and highly trained special squads consisting of career soldiers: snipers, demolition experts, marines etc. Does an armed populace really pose a plausible obstacle to such an army? I think not. Even if every man in the United States owned an Armalite pistol (or even an MP5 submachinegun) and practised his skill at arms regularly, the population as a whole would lack the coherence, intelligence gathering and technology to engage a modern army. As a consequence of this, I think the right to bear arms is obsolete -- it no longer serves its intended function.
I honestly believe the English system to be a more sensible approach. The ownership of firearms is altogether prohibited. English policemen receive training in hand-to-hand combat and are armed only with a truncheon, secure in the knowledge that their adversaries do not carry guns. Of course, this raises a question: What do they do if they encounter someone who is armed with gun? -- This is the brilliant part: In such situations they call in the SWAT teams, highly-trained special squads with automatic weapons. These SWAT teams shoot to kill -- none of that "Freeze" nonsense you see in Hollywood films -- they bring down armed criminals without asking questions. This system is, in my opinion, very clever, because most criminals do not wish to be shot, and thus see it to their advantage not to carry firearms. As a consequence, per capita gun deaths in England are only a fraction of what they are in the United States.
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