Monday, 5 October 2015

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly....

Apologies for the delay in posting my reports on our Lowlands Tour of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. There was this "little" matter of a mass shooting in my home town of Roseburg, Oregon, and somehow in the past 5 days I have spent a lot of time not finishing off those blog posts but rather scouring the Internet for updates, sifting the falsehoods from what may be the truth about events as they unfolded, while trying not to get dragged into debates about gun-control (sorry but that is so insensitive just now!) while still trying to answer this one honest question from bewildered friends: 

"Why can't Obama just make his legislature do what he wants?"  


So why the impasse? This may not be The Right Answer but it's the one that I give:  

Unlike the government structure in the UK, the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the US federal government are truly separate. A system of checks and balances means the President and the Congress can stop each other from doing certain things, but neither can force the other to do anything. 

With respect to gun ownership and regulation, yes, culture and society have a huge role to play in the lack of legislative change, but perhaps not for the reasons that the media (with its gleefully endless debate about the Second Amendment to the Constitution) and ordinary people themselves when interviewed (with their glib "right to bear arms" argument) might lead you to believe. The fact is, the U.S. federal government is constrained by the anti-federalist movement. This crystallised during the Civil War and has gathered strength ever since but probably has its roots with the Louisiana Purchase when the U.S. doubled its land holdings overnight, prompting westward emigration on a massive scale, followed only much later by the formation of new states, each with its own soft-touch imposition of 'law and order' over a "Wild West" where men had by necessity protected their families themselves with their own guns. Meanwhile, people don't relinquish responsibility for the safety and security of their family and property easily, especially in rural areas where self-sufficiency is both essential and prized. 

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