Piers Morgan meets the loud voice of gun ownership
In the UK, it is too easy to smirk at the pro-gun lobby's theatrical defence of the 2nd ammendment. But the fact is, the likes of Alex Jones are deadly serious
CNN's Piers Morgan finally met his nemesis when he invited Texan conspiracy shock jock Alex Jones onto his show to further the 'debate' on gun-control.
Jones was involved in the petition to deport the CNN inquisitor, which now has over 100,000 Americans calling for Morgan's ejection from the Land of the Free, for using the First Amendment to query the Second.
As the rest of the world knows, America and irony are strangers. Not that it bothers CNN's struggling star.
To roll out professional grandstander Michael Moore on his show to discuss gun control last week was decidedly desperate. Especially so, given Morgan's recent cack-handed conduct in this distinctly American debate.
Indeed, to have an objectionable Englishman - or Irishman, or whatever he is - insert himself into the crucible of gun debate was never going to be a recipe for reasoned argument, and when Morgan resorted to name calling of gun-ownership proposer Larry Pratt, that side entrenched still further. And there is no greater voice of this entrenchment than that of Alex Jones.
Life is too short to define Jones's world view here but suffice to say he believes 9/11 was an inside job.
Jones - who could get into an argument in an empty room - nearly didn't make his date with Morgan having narrowly avoided arrest for picking a fight with an airport security office on the way to CNN that very morning. But following Morgan's Larry Pratt meltdown, lining up Jones was an opportunity to flip the roles and two and a half minutes into the interview the Texan was screaming at Morgan that it would be, "1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms!"
Morgan kept his cool and let Jones repeatedly lose his before the Texan resorted to using an absurd British accent in an attempt to mock Morgan's. It was a slightly unedifying way in which to end what is a tragically serious debate.
Ten years ago Jones was featured in Jon Ronson’s excellent examination of extremism and conspiracy theory, ‘Them’. Ronson speculates Jones schtick is something of an act and tweeted this morning, ‘People often compare AJ to Icke. With Alex sometimes it shows that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying.’
Which begs the question, when Piers invited Alex to CNN and Alex accepted, ‘Who was using whom’?
The pictures published last week of President Barak Obama's despair as he heard of the appalling consequence of his nation's addiction to weapons on the day of the Sandy Hook massacre brought into sharp focus the invidiousness of his position. Politically, and, uniquely to the United States, this a bomb that could go off on any day of any week, and behind Jones's ranting schtick, there lies a sinister truth that was actually revealed by Radio 4 Today presenter Justin Webb, a former BBC Washington correspondent, who tweeted the following on the day of the shootings:
"A real effort to reduce gun ownership in America would result in a rural/metro & north/south divide and something like a new civil war."
I have time for Webb. He enhanced his status, for me, when he upset prickly, apparently humourless humorist Graham Linehan on R4's Today programme in 2011 when Linehan was on the show to push his stage adaption of 'The Ladykillers'.
Webb asked, fairly sunnily, "What was the point of reworking an Ealing comedy for the stage". Linehan objected to a perceived "set-up".
All things considered, it was a reasonable question. But the thin-skinned Linehan threw his toys out of the pram and subsequent to the perfectly benign interview, attacked Justin Webb, labelling him in withering terms as a jumped up right winger, or something...
If a Today host upsets a precious lefty, and they don't get much more precious than Linehan, it's safe to assume he's that rare bird: a 'sound' BBC man.
So, when Justin Webb tweeted about the Sandy Hook shootings, as soon as he did, you got the impression this was an already held view borne of a wider perception of the US. For as Webb knows all too well, and Morgan is discovering, there's more to the US than New York and Los Angeles.
Like Piers, I recently re-watched Michael Moore's gun control documentary, 'Bowling For Columbine', and it remains horribly current, but equally hopeless at addressing the issues.
Typically, and rather creepily, the denouement features Michael Moore twisting this issue to his own hard left agenda, while mercilessly taking advantage of a naiive, and clearly ailing, Charlton Heston.
Of course, an honest documentarian would have examined the other side of the debate, as Justin Webb did in 140 characters.
Had Michael Moore, or Piers Morgan for that matter, done so, they would have realised that Webb is absolutely right, and that there is a nightmarish reality which confronts the President.
We in the UK have often bemoaned the lack of a Bill of Rights and cast, alternatively, envious and proud eyes over the American Constitution. But as technology advances, the second amendment is becoming a beast of burden.
The Gun control lobby argues for a combination of paid for amnesty and Clinton-esque nuances to current gun laws: limiting magazine sizes and a ban on assault rifles. The result of this has been a spike in sales of both since Sandy Hook.
The most famous line from 'Bowling for Columbine' is Charlton Heston's, NRA rallying call, 'From my cold, dead hand', which has become shorthand for all manner of defiance of the Federal Government. In the UK, it is too easy to smirk that this is typical hubristic Hollywood celebrity endorsement, when it actual fact, they're serious.
Each side of the gun debate is argued in separate arenas. For the Gun-control lobby it is about crime levels, for the gun owners it's about freedom. But the advance in technology which has twisted the 2nd amendment in the eyes gun control advocates, continues unabated.
And for its faults, the US remains the nation that drives tech, and the hype over 3D printing brings with it the possibility of a functioning weapon, downloaded from the internet to every home. That prospect is being offered by smart, tech-savvy versions of Alex Jones who intend to make available, free of charge, a downloadable handgun for anyone with a 3D printer. They do this, not to make money, that great American talent, but as a point of constitutional principle. That great American belief.
If that is the near future, the issue becomes one of the American psyche and the US Constitution.
And what President is going to deal with that?
Jonathan Bracey-Gibbon is a freelance journalist who over the past 15 years has written for The Times, the Financial Times, The Sunday Times and Sunday Express
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