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Illustration for article titled Joe the Plumber - A story of why you are wrong

So the Main-Page has a piece about Samuel Wurzelbacher, Joe the Plumber, and his comments about the UCSB shootings.


Specifically, he makes what has to be one of the least tasteful, yet sadly predictable, responses to the event and to the speech of Richard Martinez:

"I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But:

As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights.

Mr. Martinez and anyone calling for more restrictions on American's rights need to back off and stop playing into the hands of the folks who merely capitalize on these horrific events for their own political ends.

They don't care about your family or your dead children at all. They sound like they do, whereas I sound uncaring and like I say, harsh. Don't be fooled – I care about your family and mine. The future of our very liberty lies in the balance of this fight.


Now up until today I had no idea who this Joe the Plumber is. All I know is that he sounds like a royal jackass. But I just wanted to make an outside observation from your British cousins across the pond. Specifically I would like to talk to J.Plumber about the Dunblane School shooting.

On the 13th March 1996, Thomas Hamilton walked into a school armed with four handguns and killed sixteen children and one adult before turning the gun against himself.


The nation was duly appalled. Bereaved families and their friends initiated a campaign to ban private gun ownership, named the Snowdrop Petition which gained 705,000 signatures in support and was supported by some newspapers, including the Sunday Mail, a Scottish newspaper whose own petition to ban handguns had raised 428,279 signatures within five weeks of the massacre.

Shortly afterwards, the Government passed the Firearms (Amendment) No.1 and No.2 Acts 1997 which, more or less, made the private owning of handguns illegal.


The people and the Government were confronted with a tragedy, and decided that the death of children did in fact outweigh the private rights of gun ownership.

So what were the effects? Well the gun crime rate unsurprisingly dropped significantly. At 0.25 Firearm related deaths per 100,000 population, we have the 10th lowest rate of gun deaths in the entire world. We still have the occasional mass shooting by disturbed individuals, but these are rare. We have had only one 'spree killing' (defined by the US Bureau of Justice as more than two killings with little to no time break between murders) since 1996, the Cumbrian shootings in 2010. Possibly two if you include Raoul Moat.

The U.S had 41 such incidents between 1996 and 2012. The rate of Firearm related deaths per 100,000 stood at 10.3 in America in 2011.


A comparison of the overall intentional homicide rankings stands the UK at 1.2, while in America it stands at 4.8.


But these statistics are really secondary to the main point I want to bring up here. Joe, you seem to genuinely believe that your guns are the only keeping you safe from a Governmental takeover and tyranny, or at least I hope you believe it as otherwise you are just being a duplicitous bastard. But here's the thing, since Dunblane and the effective banning of private ownership of handguns in the U.K, I have yet to see this tyranny you are afraid of. So far the tanks have not been rolling down Oxford Street and martial law is yet to be called in to effect. Life continued on and the Government remains as incompetent as ever.

In fact the USA and the UK score roughly the same level of freedoms according to various Freedom Indices, which take into account such measures as economic and political freedom.

So please, don't try and claim that guns are the only thing keeping the Government from turning into 1984 and that gun owners are the last bastion of freedom. Not only is it just not true, but it's insulting to the victims of gun crime and their families.

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