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The Fox 5366
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Stop changing the goal-posts

24 December 2012, 13:59

If there's one thing which every debate here proves, it is that there is no such thing as a conclusive victory.

You can start out debating the origins of the Universe, but that debate will turn into one on religion, then morals, then politics, then maybe racism, and finally the humour behind the Simpsons. You're just not going to win.

Here's a comment on my recent article proposing a new type of 'smart' gun to reduce gun crimes which just takes the cake: "And thirdly most people are fighting exactly to defend against those legacy weapons being lost. It is one of the alures of the sport of shooting ...... you are not a shooter are you mate ?"

This is perfect, isn't it? You note there is a dire need to control guns, because gun crime is a serious problem and the solution of just taking guns out of private individuals hands is going to leave them vulnerable. Then somebody comes up and says 'Yes, we do want guns after all, but not smart guns. What about the old guns? We like those ones [even though supporting those ones will ultimately contribute to senseless school shootings like those in the US]. Oh, and you wouldn't understand anyway because you're not a shooter ... mate."

This reminds me about the debate about car accidents, the role of excess speed and the possibility of just limiting all cars' top speed. A columnist for a local Johannesburg newspaper recently defended fast cars by saying that "Even though I don't want to drive it over the speed limit, it feels good to know that it can drive fast, and that knowledge alone sets me apart from all the other people driving their tiny breadboxes on wheels."

Well, it's the same sort of thing, isn't it? One of those tangents which ultimately deflects a debate away from its intended purpose, and leaves the core problem apparently unsolveable. That's where you need leadership: somebody with political will and influence to act as the judge, and to make a decision.

While we collectively sit around with our thumbs up our ... you get the picture ... 'stupid' guns are still being mass-manufactured which are being used to murder innocents, and cars with top speeds 'limited' to top speeds of 250km/h are still being sold in countries with national speed limits of 120km/h.

To the defenders of 'legacy' guns purely on the grounds of 'Oh gee they look real nice and there's a real heritage there', if I had to choose between you enjoying your heritage and that kid in the US not stealing his mom's guns to murder 26 innocents,  my choice is easy.

For the people who want fast cars because 'slow cars are boring', I want to ask you whether it was purely a coincidence whether the pedestrian who was run over while returning to pick up a shopping bag she'd dropped happened to be run over by a Mercedes-Benz ... or whether she was statistically more likely to be because cars which can drive faster will be driven faster and result in more accidents?

Between all of your collective enjoyment you get from speed and living dangerously and turning into every corner as if you're a racecar driver, I'd choose that pedestrian's life, thanks.

It is only when we remain focused on the initial problems and their costs that we can make the correct judgement calls without being mired in a sludge of irrelevant defences. Unfortunately, without a judge to appeal to, there's no winning ... there's only the hope of building a critical mass of agreement.

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