Thursday 26 June 2008

Supreme Court quash Washington gun ban

I posted in January about the news that gun control was going before the US Supreme Court for the first time in 70 years. Whatever way the gun lobby choose to dress up the stats it's clear that more guns equal more people being shot. I'm not anti-gun per se, but I do think the ease with which they can be obtained in the US is a problem.
Justice Antonin Scalia said "Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defence in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid". This isn't a surprising ruling from a conservative bench.

I'm still not convinced though that the popularity of guns as a method self-defence is a good enough line coming from senior legal figures. Most people don't like wearing seat-belts or obeying speeding laws, so lets do away with them too (I know New Hampshire is an exception).
The constitutional reason behind the right to bear arms is murky at best. Common references are made to the 'as part of a regulated militia' part of the amendment and my personal favourite take on this comes from Toby in the West Wing, who suggests this doesn't include "three guys in a Dodge Durango".

Interestingly, both presidential candidates have agreed with the ruling. For McCain it's no surprise as he tries to secure the right which he has never been particularly favoured by. It's also a chance to jump on Obama's previous 'guns and religion' comment.
Obama's support is a surprise and, in my opinion, a risk. By flip-flopping on issues like this he is making himself vulnerable to GOP attacks. And many a past candidate (Dukakis springs to mind) will testify to the excellence with which the Republican party exploit such vulnerabilities.

For Washington however I don't know what this means. Once the US' most crime-ridden city, it has undergone somewhat of a renaissance over the past 10 or 15 years. It may not make any difference, but I'd be interested to see some gun crime/ deaths statistics in 5 years time. I'll be there in October myself and don't' expect it to make any difference to me.
Must admit though, I'd feel a little bit safer if it was still in place.

Thursday 19 June 2008

Second vote would be a farce too far.

"The Irish government has been given four months to devise a strategy resurrecting Europe's grand reform project, with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France suggesting that the Irish may have to stage a second referendum on the incendiary issue." - The Guardian, 20 June 2008
It cannot happen again. Following Denmark having two bites at Maastricht and Ireland having two votes on Nice, we are now in a situation where the EU is likely to be undermined, by a policy of 'we'll keep asking until you say yes'.

The Irish political parties have a responsibility for the result, as do the people, but maybe it 's time (and this is controversial I know) to take EU treaties away form ratification by referendum. While I have reservations about this myself, at least it would remove the ability of groups to spin the treaties into things they're not and boost the 'no' vote with scare tactics and half-truths.
The lack of trust in politicians and the political process, and the impact it had on the treaty, has been well documented over on Dossing Times and it certainly played its part in the no vote. It's also a major obstacle to people accepting parliamentary decisions on such issues.

But when it comes down to it, who thinks we'd really be better off without Europe? Who thinks we'd have had the Celtic Tiger or the half decent road network that now exists? Who thinks the lowly Punt with its over reliance on FDI in the form of the $USD and £stg could have fared better in this slow economy than the support and relative stability of the Euro?
If you still think Ireland should be better off without Europe then the EU is entitled to a refund on the investment it made in Ireland over the past 35 years.