Over the past weekend I was invited to a wedding, which all went perfectly swimmingly, with the bride and groom looking resplendent in their marriage clothes. After the ceremony there was a sit down lunch. At the table I was at were an insurance advisor, a student, aged approximately 21,both of these individuals were born and raised in the U.K., an executive of one of the largest software companies in the world, of Italian origins and an executive of a major hardware/phone company, of American heritage. All with the exception of the last were male and covered a span of around 30-40 years from the youngest to the oldest.
The insurance advisor and the student were based in one location but the two executives, as you would imagine travel the world, from Europe, the U.S. and out to the near and far east. The conversation was invariably diverse often revolving around finance and the current economic situation. Due to fact that I had been at work in the morning and had taken a half day leave of absence, gone straight from working to the venue and changed en route, I had missed lunch. So lunch was now at about 4p.m and I was more intent on refilling my tank than joining in the conversation. Although I was keeping an ear out, I was not that concerned with the vagaries of multi-national, multi-billion dollar finance and how difficult it was when market share was reduced by 0.5%. My interest was however peaked when the conversation turned to the recent abhorrent tragedy in Aurora, CO. The consensus was that there was no need for anyone to have in their possession or indeed to own a firearm. They then went on to espouse much of the inaccurate mis-information that they had read in the media and quoted it verbatim as fact. For example the individual concerned used an "Assault Rifle". They all agreed that this was awful, after all what would you need an assault rifle for apart from killing people and animals. The American then pronounced in an authoritative manner that back in her home state of Washington "You could hear them firing at the deer with their assault rifles during most of the hunting season". I was perched on the horns of a dilemma, what should I do? On one hand this was someone's special day and I did not want to start a debate which, judging by their current state, would, should a contrary point of be put forward become heated to say the least. On the other hand, I couldn't let such ill informed rhetoric pass by. So I decided upon another tack, I asked "Leaving aside the terrible Aurora incident did they not think that having some form of instrument for their own defence was a good idea. It need not be a gun as I appreciate that not everyone is comfortable near or around them?" The response was not a surprise given the previous state of conversation; their consensus was that no-one had a right to have any form of weapon, including a firearm, for self defence. All you need is access to a mobile phone, after all that is what the police are for. I countered with, "What if there are no police or you cannot get a signal, and additionally, even if you do get hold of the police who is say how long they will take to get there or if they will even turn up". The software executive chimed up with,"that is their job, it's what we pay taxes for!" Once again I was prepared stating that, "Whilst in the U.K there was still a possible avenue open in law to argue this point; in the U.S the police are under no legal obligation to assist you when you dial 911". The American lady took exception to this and stated that this was un-true. I suggested she use one of her company's products to research the point in question and obtain confirmation of her view point. The two younger individuals both asserted that, given that scenario, they would turn and run whilst dialling 999 on their mobiles. Not wanting to sound obtuse, I kept the encounter to a single attacker but countered with, "What if they can run faster than you, or you trip over?" "Then we would fight back", came the reply. Once again I stated "this person is armed, that is why they pick on people like you, they think they have the advantage", "they may not have a gun here in the U.K, but it is possible, they may have a knife or a length of 2" x 3". Despite your previous attempt to escape, you are now required to get closer to your attacker, what they want; in order to defend yourself". At this point our Italian gentleman retorted that "I was being deliberately confrontational in an effort to get agreement on my point of view". I replied "not at all, whilst I have never been in the situation being discussed, it is not a school yard tussle. There would be no teacher come to stop it. It would only end when one or the other protagonists were able to leave the scene. In the majority of instances this would be the attacker if the victim was unable to defend themselves".
In an attempt to change the direction of the conversation, the subject of the American second amendment was brought into play by our American lady. "So do you believe in the second amendment", she asked. I replied "I do". "How can you, it is an out dated piece law that has no relevance in our modern society. OK, its part of our heritage but it should be limited to the weapons that were available then, not all these assault rifles with high capacity clips". I responded by referring her to my previous stand point and by pointing out the difference between assault rifles and those generally held by most of the civilian population. I threw in, free of charge, the difference between a clip and a magazine. I finished with her first point last by saying "that I had no doubt all of the N.R.A members would concede her assertion on the second if she would pack up her and her friends business and revert to the use of the quill and printing press, as these items were all that was available at the time of writing the amendments, and therefore by extension, no computers or the internet would be miscible". Once again I was accused of being inflammatory.
As I had feared the temperature was beginning to rise, I had stood my ground, tried to pursue an intelligent debate and countered all their assertions with facts and data. At this point the main course arrived and talking gave way eating. As I neared the end of the main course I thought let's try something else, so I asked the table "What are your views on legalising cannabis and cocaine?" "Why do you ask" came the reply from the insurance advisor. "Just curious" I replied. This group, so keen not allow people the right of self defence, now opined that these, and other drugs should be legalised. Their argument being that, if legal, crime would go down, taxes could be levied by the government and after all who hasn't smoked a bit of weed. With nodding and agreement, especially from the student who went on to say "Pot is readily available at his university and so long as it is smoked out of sight, no-one does anything about it", there was much metaphorical back slapping. "I have never taken any of the drugs you are talking about and I am a non-smoker of over thirty years. How do you justify your stand point of agreeing to participate in drug taking, yet are prepared to deny people the right to defend themselves from a would be attacker, who is more than probably only attacking them to get money or goods to sell, to buy drugs". As they all started to speak the one thing that seemed common to all their arguments was the fact that there is such a proliferation of drugs out there the easiest thing to do would be to make it legal for everyone.
From this point on I kept my own council and the table took on a chilly atmosphere. I, or anyone else for that matter, was never going to change their view point. I hope that they are never unfortunate enough to be the victim of a mugger or home invasion. Should they live to tell the tale, they will more than probably berate the over stretched police force and demand more patrols especially around their neighbourhood. As I took my knife and fork in hand a small ironic thought crossed my mind, we had just eaten some very nice lamb roule and these people would be, if the occasion arose, "lambs to the slaughter". Though I pray that they never have to find out how their mis-placed reliance on others is no defence or excuse for self reliance and self defence, especially when entering a gun free zone.