Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Grumpy about guns

Monday, 8 February 2010

Here’s my Observer column from yesterday, in which I am grumpy about guns. Opinion is interestingly divided in the comments underneath. Some very nice, thinking I’m making a valid point (which I find very reassuring, since I am always terrified of writing columns that just “make a point” without any jokes in; I was taught throughout childhood to believe that almost nothing is worth saying unless it’s funny, and I’m not entirely sure that isn’t completely true.) Some perfectly nice but disagreeing completely and saying I’m wrong. And some, naturally, saying that because I occasionally drive past Regents Park and see an armed policeman standing there, I am over-privileged, chewing on a silver spoon at the top of an ivory tower, no sense of the real world etc etc. They’re right: there is actually a full inspection of bank statements going back four generations for anyone who wants to go near Regents Park.

  Actually, I joke. Give it another three years and there probably will be.

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C Scott at 7:18 pm on February 8th, 2010

I don’t remember any ‘conversations’ about anything political. The occasional vote and the occasional (ignored) consultation exercise - enough to keep the illusion of democracy going - are the extent of engagement for most folk. 
Like the illusion of democracy, the illusion of law & order is fading fast so it’s all getting a bit more explicit even as the the police *force* has become the police *service*.

Also, what is a ‘knee-jerk essay-writer’?

David Young at 7:52 am on February 9th, 2010

Victoria, while I share your unease about the wider use of guns by the police, I don’t see what’s especially unusual about lack of public debate on this issue.

For decades now, things that have huge repercussions on the lives of UK citizens have come about with little or no consultation. The most obvious example is the huge rise in immigration.

There are also dozens and dozens of sacred-cows in British politics (BBC licence fee, the NHS, the smoking ban, Black-cabs ‘knowledge test’) and the result is a widespread apathy for the 3 main parties and the growth of fringe ones.

KlooRhee at 5:04 pm on February 9th, 2010

It’s a shame that police have such a bad reputation. I’m convinced that there must be testing and profiling in place which policemen/women must go through before they’re issued a gun. Would it please the public if they had a say about this process or is it up to government organization?

As for the middle of the road guy that threatened you. Was it cold?

Tim Oates at 6:00 pm on February 9th, 2010

The police have been shooting innocent civilians since 1981, when they shot a doctor sitting in his mini in Mayfair, followed by Harry Stanley in 1999, carrying a table leg wrapped in brown paper, followed by De Menezes in 2005. No debate on the ‘shoot to kill’ policy re-introducing the death penalty, scrapped by Parliament many years ago.The police are simply out of control, you’re right to be concerned, what are you as an influential columnist going to do about it?

Andrew at 12:42 am on February 10th, 2010

Just occasionally you read a column where you finish and think, ‘that has expressed exactly what I think about this issue.’  Nice work Victoria - where do we get to vote for you in this General Election thing that’s coming up?

Also so nice to read a positive comments stream underneath.  I like the funny columns but when you feel strongly about something that column suggests you shouldn’t be shy to throw in a serious opinion piece from time to time.

KlooRhee at 7:33 pm on February 14th, 2010

Did some further investigation (in a pub) and got some terrifying news.

One of my former co-workers is in a coma having been found in a back of a Police van. Police changed their statement three times already. I know this guy quite well and what I can suspect is that he was arrested for possession and him being the cheekiest person I’ve met had something to say about it. The day in question being New Year’s Day doesn’t help.

In other news, one of my mates has a lot of friends in forces and what he experienced is that the veterans coming back from battlefield have a very easy route into armed police. He said that they will take them without a thought. No disrespect meant but I can imagine that some of these fellas could be a little bit more trigger-happy than desired.

So what gives?

Victoria Coren

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