Friday, May 13, 2005

No Ammo Please, We're British

Back in the winter I watched the rather good Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes, which has a scene with guns.
The bad guys are threatening and our hero and heroine gather together the other English train passengers, explain the trouble, and ask for help. Not only are they able to get help from their fellow Brits just because they're Brits, but when the bad guys start shooting, the English pick up the gun or two that is available to them and start shooting back. I immediately felt a sort of nostalgic pleasure, thinking to myself that, what with the stringent gun-control laws now ravaging Britain, you wouldn't be able nowadays to depend on the English passengers to know how to use the gun--or willing to use it, if they knew! (Actually in the film there was one Englishman in favor of appeasement; he got himself shot.) Sherlock Holmes and Watson may have carried revolvers when the game was afoot and Chesterton's Innocent Smith may have carried a gun to shoot at people who needed waking up, but it seems that nowadays the only Brits who dare have guns are criminals.

If this post John Derbyshire made in the Corner yesterday is to be believed, it's a wonder the British military is still allowed (unloaded) guns:

Say it ain't so: The British are now so gun-shy, even their MILITARY is gun-shy. A reader forwarded this, headed: "On British and Australian individual weapon procedure, from a friend in Country": "Our British and Australian colleagues immediately unload all guns (rifles and pistols) upon coming back through the wire, even though we live in a uninterrupted combat zone. Since we have to depend on them, I habitually ask, 'Are all your guns loaded?' Imagine my surprise when I first discovered that, in British military jargon, 'loaded' translates to 'transport mode.' [loaded magazine, but empty chamber]

"They are so afraid of actually putting a live round in the chamber of any rifle or pistol, most even carry outside the wire with an empty chamber. When they do load, they instantly unload every chance they get, even when it is conspicuously unwise to do so.

"Loaded guns are treated as if they carried some contagious disease!

"Don't get me wrong. Brits and Aussies are good soldiers, but they have been philosophically castrated by their respective nanny-states. In their national confusion, fear of guns has become a ubiquitous, domestic obsessionn, and it has spilled over, even into the military.

"These two nations will indeed be lucky to survive this current period of world history."

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

(And, yes, I know the examples I gave of happy English gun-users in the past are fictional characters.)

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