It often takes a little sarcasm and a little comedy to point out the farcical nature of an issue. Enter John Oliver. English comedian with a quick wit. Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart did up a three part series debating the issue of gun control in America in the wake of its latest mass shooting.

Here are the clips:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3
(NOTE: the final video contains images parodying indigenous Aboriginal culture)

A few reflections on the videos:

  • It’s pretty easy to see that Oliver has picked on an almost caricatured representative of the pro-guns side, but Jim Manley, former American senatorial advisor, drops a massive Freudian slip when he says that a successful politician is defined by how often they get re-elected. Wow. In contrast the  former Australian ministers come off very well.
  • The Bill of Rights and it’s amendments has grown a rights* based culture in America. Protection of the freedom of these rights – as Virginia Citizens Defence League representative Philip Van Cleave clearly states –  is sacrosanct. Until Americans and America moves past this and lays down their rights I doubt change will happen.
  • Part Three of the video is probably the best and demonstrates how the Australian response was both manageable and we were able to live with it – ie the world did not implode despite the (similar to American) protests
  • It’s important to remember that it was John Howard’s conservative Liberal government which introduced the gun control legislation in Australia. I think this gets highlighted a few times because it’s not often that a conservative party would enact legislation like this. It’s something you’d expect of a progressive party but not a conservative.
  • I think Australia’s experience with gun control legislation knocks over the argument that more guns in the hands of more people would prevent more mass shootings. I agree that there are a number of stories, less well known, which indicate that armed citizens have been able to prevent possibly larger casualties, but it strikes me as a much weaker position to defend in the light of Australia’s experience.
  • That said, I do think Australia is different from America despite what Oliver humorously, and pointedly, points out. We have less a culture of ‘rights’ in Australia, which I think affects the debate in America substantially, less of a gun culture (I hardly remember any reference to guns – outside of movies – in my childhood), less population and less guns in general.

What reflections on these videos would you add?

 

*I think this is a fairly strong argument to not introduce a Bill of Rights in Australia (which has been debated and voted on before) and to leave it to our democratically elected (and voted out) members of Parliament to represent our rights. This also means that should unpopular/wrong/too restrictive/powerful rights be legislated then future parliaments can repeal them. I’d much prefer this modus operandi than legislated rights left to unelected officials (judges) to interpret.

 

Update:

A good friend has linked to this wikipedia article which suggests that the results of the National Firearms Agreement are debatable. Still, the biggest stat – zero mass shootings (four or more people) since 1996 – stands.

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