Magazine article The Spectator

'Gun Baby Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of the Gun', by Iain Overton - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Gun Baby Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of the Gun', by Iain Overton - Review

Article excerpt

Gun Baby Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of the Gun Iain Overton

Canongate, pp.358, £18.99, ISBN: 9781782113423

Like the documentary journalist Iain Overton, author of this book, I was taught to shoot and maintain a gun as a boy. As an adult I joined a campaign to monitor, curb and limit the arms trade. I taught my children good gun protocols and how to shoot. There is an undeniable pleasure in shooting.

When I moved to Texas I immediately bought a black powder Navy Colt with which to practise the cowboy spins, rolls and shifts I had learned as a boy. The thing Bible-belt Baptists, Bedouin tribesmen, Brazilian drug-barons and Boer farmers have in common is a love of guns. Guns are in our DNA. Yet statistics prove that, wherever they proliferate, murder and suicide rise and children are killed. The mantra of the NRA (National Rifle Association) of 'guns don't kill people; people kill people' sounds convincing until it's changed to 'guns don't kill children; children kill children'. The statistics are overwhelming.

Unlike Michael Moore, who in Bowling for Columbine fudged his statistics and loaded his arguments so much that he weakened his own case, Overton has checked his facts and his statistics thoroughly and wherever possible interviewed all concerned, whether in the Americas, Africa, Europe, Australia or Asia. As a result his book is chilling.

There are probably as many guns in the world now as there are people. Unlike refrigerators, cars or vacuum cleaners, guns have to be made to last. This means that new markets constantly have to be found. Whenever a school shooting, in particular, happens in the USA there is a predictable, but by no means widespread, call for stricter gun laws -- and the sales of guns rise sharply. In a climate of fear, in spite of a declining crime rate, many Americans go out to buy themselves an AK-47.

Their decision is supported by a liberally interpreted constitutional amendment, a national organisation originally intended to train young marksmen, an aggressive gun industry and an almost mystical association of the gun with 'freedom'. For the British the symbol of government interference is the hated identity card. In the USA the symbol is gun control. The NRA is today essentially a trade lobby, but there are direct Washington lobbyists for the likes of Smith &Wesson, Glock and the rest, most tottering from one financial crisis to another whenever the trade reaches saturation. Enormous gun shows attract millions of men, some women and no black people at all. …

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