Letters: Changing America’s gun culture

 

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In the past eight months or so, there have been mass shootings in Seattle; in Aurora, Colorado; in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; in Minneapolis; in Portland, Oregon; and now in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Second Amendment states, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". The US Justice Department's official position is that these rights are limited to the collective rights of states to regulate their own militia.

Good starting point. But the National Rifle Association has hijacked the Second Amendment to assert that every individual has the right to be armed with guns.

But how do you control the possession of 300 million privately owned guns in your country? Draconian laws will be of limited effect because they will be flouted and probably unenforced.

A more effective route might be to control the supply of ammunition? The Second Amendment says nothing about this. The right to keep a gun in my view is not synonymous with a right to be provided with ammunition.

Ammunition has to be replaced, so the federal control of ammunition would soon dwindle its availability.

This will not solve the gun problem nor necessarily change the gun culture of its people, but something drastic has to be tried and pretty soon too.

David Ashton

Shipbourne, Kent

Mary Dejevsky would carry a gun in the USA (18 December)? If confronted by an armed assailant (as recent studies show) she will be more than four times more likely to be shot and killed than an unarmed victim. Domestic gun ownership will put her at greater, not lesser risk of gun-related injury or death.

So much for self-defence; what about liberty? The USA, as Dejevsky must know, is the most grossly unequal nation in the developed world, with a political system aptly described as "the best democracy money can buy" and a far from spotless record on civil liberties.

Nevertheless, she presents what she regards as a neglected argument of "high principle", that widespread gun ownership somehow protects the public from government oppression.

The gun lobby has been peddling this ridiculous myth for years. It helps persuade poor, gullible, gun-loving folk to vote Republican.

Andrew Clifton

Edgware, Middlesex

Mary Dejevsky needs to get a few practicalities sorted out before she fantasises about protecting herself with a gun while in America.

How long does it take to get your dinky little handgun out of your handbag? Where's your handbag? For ladies of a certain age, where are your glasses? If it's dark, have you got a night-sight?

By the time the family china starts pinging off the dresser, your assailant's semi-automatic will have taken you out.

Grow up. Target shooting is fun, but shooting people is not, which, as a former foreign correspondent, Dejevsky should already know.

Mary Cousins

Usk, Monmouthshire

Let pensioners keep the perks they have earned

So Deputy Prime Minister Clegg is suggesting that better-off pensioners should have their pensions, bus passes, TV allowance etc reduced or cut completely.

I am 72, and throughout my working life I spent just one week unemployed for which I claimed benefit.

Nevertheless, through the 50 years of my employment I willingly paid my National Insurance contributions in the knowledge that it would benefit everyone – including me – in our society by providing an effective National Health Service, liveable allowances for those unable to work because of disabilities and, of course, unemployment benefit for those who could not find jobs during the many Tory-introduced recessions over the years.

This must be a better scheme than allowing poor or disabled people to live rough and beg on our streets. Surely, it is better than the one encouraged by the Tories and supported by the Lib Dems whereby everyone should be interested only in their own rewards and should ignore the plight of anyone else.

The coalition government – comprised of very rich people – is using the deficit inheritance to impose the austerity measures on people who had nothing to do with the bankers' greed which was responsible for the worldwide financial problems of today. Osborne and his Eton buddies are overjoyed at being able to use the excuse of the deficit reduction to destroy the welfare state.

If "well-off" pensioners are to have their lifetime investment in the NI system cut perhaps it would also be an idea to slash the benefits that shareholders receive for investing their money in capitalism. Or would that be unfair?

Tony Probert

Locking, North Somerset

Not content with breaking his own pre-election promises, the leader of the Liberal Democrats is now urging Mr Cameron to break his. But what the man lacks in honour he makes up for in his use of hyperbole.

One wonders just how many "multi-millionaire pensioners" he assumes are driven to the post office by their chauffeurs to collect their bus passes. And as those wanting to study at university can testify, it is not just the wealthy who will be paying the price of furthering Mr Clegg's ambitions.

Should he succeed in removing universal benefits from older people it will be all those on small pensions paying the lowest rate of tax who will suffer as well.

Fred Litten

Croydon, Surrey

National DIY for the unemployed

I can forgive George Osborne's lack of experience in the real world of commerce and industry. What I cannot endure is his lack of numeracy and common sense.

If you are out of work, it's sensible to tackle DIY jobs around the house. Our country is run down and getting more dilapidated by the day, and many important projects are neglected.

Millions are unemployed and we are having to pay for their upkeep. Isn't it reasonable to employ them to bring our infrastructure up to scratch? What they earn will bring in taxes, what they spend will bring in VAT, what they buy will employ more people.

When I was a general manager and export orders were on a downturn, I asked the production workers whether instead of laying them off for a month, they would repaint and decorate the factory premises. They agreed instantly.Anyone wonder why?

Perhaps public schools should concentrate on teaching their pupils basic arithmetic instead of networking skills?

Mike Joslin

Dorchester

More help for small business

The Government remains a champion of small businesses; contrary to assertions in your article ("Osborne prolongs the great business rate robbery", 10 December). The success of small business rate relief is evident when 460,000 small businesses – four out of every five – are claiming it. This is why, in the Autumn Statement, the Government doubled small business rate relief for a further year.

We have frozen business rates in real terms by postponing the revaluation until 2017, benefiting 800,000 businesses and giving them the chance to make long-term financial decisions that will help their companies thrive.

Councils can now offer additional local discounts and businesses can spread the inflation increase over three years.

Brandon Lewis

Minister for Local Government, London SW1

The ugly face of football

Simon Dunkley ("Nasty behaviour mars football", Letters, 8 December) rightly deplores the ugly actions both on and off the field which now disfigure our national game yet the epithet "the beautiful game" still obsesses commentators. Surely it is time to consign this discredited cliché to the waste bin of history.

Bob Heys

Ripponden, Halifax

Can't we use Transfer Pricing?

The basic principles of the UK's Transfer Pricing legislation according to HMRC's website are: "The UK legislation allows only for a Transfer Pricing adjustment to increase taxable profits or reduce a tax loss. It is not possible to decrease profits or increase a tax loss. The UK's Transfer Pricing legislation also applies to transactions between any connected UK entities." Is this enforceable, and, if it is, why is it not applied to Starbucks, Amazon, Google etc?

R Smith

St Helens, Merseyside

A simple way to tackle companies that avoid corporation tax – and the cost of the services they use in this country – by siphoning profits overseas could be to calculate that cost and set it against corporation tax, and local business rates. If there is still an underpayment, that balance should be disallowed from any funds paid out to associated organisations abroad.

Harvey Cole

Winchester, Hampshire

Koran questions

Professor Tony Pointon's story (letters, 18 December) about Muslim science students refusing to question the printed word, because it was against their religion, is shocking. In Islam, many scholars see the Koran encouraging scientific thinking and viewing nature as a creation. It is only the Koran, as the word of God, which cannot be questioned. The scientific method, itself, was developed by the Muslim scholar, Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040).

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

The real chants

Whoever selected the best football chants of the year should get down to the lower leagues where the humour is not carefully choreographed. That is where he will hear the spontaneous ripostes, frequently from the players and, occasionally, from the linesman.

Jeremy Axten

Addlestone, Surrey

Ukip failures

Reports of the demise of the Liberal Democrats in Owen Jones's otherwise excellent article on Ukip (17 December) are rather premature. The popularity Ukip enjoyed in recent national by-elections does not bear fruit locally. Of the 11 local council elections in November, the Liberal Democrats won five, Conserative two, Independents two, Labour one, Greens one and Ukip none.

Debbie Boote

Nottingham

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