Weird and wacky

A fortnight in the erstwhile Home of the Braves and the Land of the Freeby for bankers, as always, convinces Malcolm that it isn’t just a common language that divides UK and US communication: it’s a whole different mind-set.

Which means that Malcolm is about to induce a froth of rage from a couple of loonies who believe the Second Amendment is the Eleventh Commandment.

One would be hard-pressed to find any sane person across this green and pleasant land who would argue for loosening gun-control. Those who do are so far into Ayn Rand they equally might suggest free heroin in secondary schools, and ignore facts and common decency:

And then there’s Florida.

Carl Hiaasen regularly records that it’s Only in Miami (as with art weekend’s column), but it appears to be a more general state-of-paranoia. So the Miami Herald gives us this:

Metal detectors at the entrance of the state Capitol help protect Florida lawmakers. Security personnel watch over every committee meeting.

But two months after a new law made it easier to bring concealed guns into the Capitol, the Senate security force has installed special alert buttons on the phone of every senator and staffer.

At the touch of a button, an unseen officer in the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office can instantly monitor a conversation in Senate offices and respond if needed.

“Instead of reversing what we did, we’re resorting to panic buttons,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston, who opposed the new gun law. “It’s unnerving. My staff is very nervous.”

For years, Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents asked concealed weapons permit holders entering the Capitol to surrender their weapons and store them in a police lock box. If they refused, FDLE agents would notify the sergeant’s office, which would assign a guard to follow the person through the building.

But a law that took effect Oct. 1 pre-empts city and county governments from regulating guns except where the state expressly allows it. That includes the state Capitol, where guns are prohibited only in the House and Senate chambers and committee rooms.

So Capitol Police no longer ask gun owners to secure their firearms. And they’re not alerting the House and Senate sergeants, who are civilian political appointees.

Eleven months ago Representative Gabrielle Giffords was just one of eighteen shot in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords was, and remains the headline name. She survived, albeit severely incapacitated. Six others didn’t, including a nine-year-old girl and the chief judge of the US District Court. Four Presidents have died from gun violence: a 9% hit-rate.

Commonsense (not something normally associated with politicians) might suggest prevention is better than … err … being incurable, or dead. And something a wee bit more pro-active than a panic button might be a good idea.

Statistically, 2,058 of the Floridans presently alive and breathing will die from gun-fire.


By the way, that bit about “two nations divided by a common language” wasn’t coined by Churchill, or by George Bernard Shaw. It may well have been Oscar Wilde in the opening chapter of The Canterville Ghost.



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Filed under bigotry, Carl Hiaasen, crime, culture, Miami Herald, Quotations, US politics

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