Gun control and tragedy in Arizona

Michael Bloomberg said it best, although he’s not the only one to have made this point.

The mayor of New York told a crowd in the wake of the Arizona shooting spree: “We don’t know all the facts in this case yet, but we do know that every single day, 34 Americans are murdered.

“Every single day. Yesterday it was Judge John Roll and five other Americans and many more across the 50 states. Tomorrow, there will be another 34.”

As a Brit, I find the attitude towards gun control across the pond baffling, to say the least.

The second amendment of the constitution argues for the right of Americans to bear arms. But that’s a nebulous concept.

The founding fathers weren’t talking about weapons with the capacity of modern machine guns and were theorizing in a time of frontier lawlessness that cannot possibly be compared with today.

As Nathan Thonrnburgh points out in Time magazine: “The real question in Tucson, though, is why the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was allowed to buy the murder weapon.

“Beyond the clearly delusional nature of online videos ascribed to him, Loughner was suspended last year from Pima Community College apparently because of mental problems…The Army also denied Loughner’s application for unspecified reasons.

“Still, he passed a background check, and late last year legally bought the 9-mm Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun allegedly used in the shootings.”

The familiar refrain, when it comes to arguments about gun control, goes something along the lines of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

It’s a flawed logic. Yes, even without a gun in his hand the alleged shooter could have been harbouring antisemitic, extremist views and planning how he could end the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford.

Sure, he could have attacked her and the six others who lost their lives in their rampage with another weapon. Not having a gun wouldn’t necessarily have stopped him hurting people.

But why make it so easy? Incidents like this, Columbine, Virginia Tech – all were the deranged actions of crazed people with one thing in common. They had access to a gun.

The desire to do something is not the same as the ability to do it.

Take this silly example; I might want a flash car or expensive shoes, but without the ability (ie. enough money) to get them, they remain theoretical.

I could always rob a bank (or, in the case of a shooter, illegally acquire a gun) but it would make the path from A to B far more complicated.

Tightening access to guns won’t stop the disturbed souls out there from sharing their views with the world, or having those views in the first place.

But it would make it a little harder for them to translate those views into action.

Ross Zimmerman, the father of the congressional aide gunned down in Saturday’s rampage, said of his son: “All I ask is that people remember him.”

What better way than to make it harder for it to happen again?

Gossip Girl: The Last Days of Disco Stick

The author James Frey was apparently the inspiration for this week’s offering, as the lives of all our Gossip Girls and Guys came shattering down into a million little pieces. 

 That was not before a guest-appearance from NYU alum Ga Ga.  As in Lady, in case Blair was wondering, not the first lady of Iran.  (Though wouldn’t that brighten up Middle Eastern politics…)!

 To sum up: following on from last week’s, ahem, shenanigans between Dan, Olivia and Vanessa, life in the NYU dorms was getting awkward.  Nate, in his new role as everyone’s favourite teenage therapist, promptly put pay to Dan’s illusion that a threesome with his current celebrity flame and his infatuated life BFF was a GOOD IDEA.

 For reasons frankly too convoluted and yawn-worthy to explain, the threesome (and Blair) ended up working on a theatre production together.  After a day of bickering, things came to a head when Olivia outed Vanessa’s romantic feelings towards Dan, as discerned by her during the aforementioned shenanigans.

 In fact, she had it wrong.  Vanessa was, typically, far more interested in a pretentious drama student (and I’d argue only has eyes for Rufus H anyway).  But as it turned out, Dan was now seeing Vanessa in a new, romantic light.  And so the Dan-Olivia romance came smashing to the floor, with her off to concentrate on shooting the appalling sounding ‘Bitches of Eastwick’ far, far away from the GG shores. 

 While this was going down, Jenny was out playing tour guide to a sultry Belgian boy (school Jenny? No?).  Yet as is so often the case with the sexy European characters dreamed up by American writers who don’t own passports, all was not what it seemed.  Mr Belgium was busy exploiting diplomatic channels for a lucrative drug dealing business, which both scared and thrilled little J no end. 

 Chuck, however, was having none of it and came to take Jenny out of harms way.  Isn’t it amusing how he has morphed from her almost date-rapist, to her sort-of-brother, to her white knight, in three short series? 

Character continuity is evidently not a focus in the GG writers room. 

 As for Serena van-der Lewinsky.  Where to start?  Well she tried her damned hardest to stop Tripping over (get it) but blondie has never been very good at not doing stupid things.  By episodes end Tripp had found out the shattering truth that his wife was behind the election-day set up, and was seeking (and finding) solace in Serena’s arms.

 Not before Nate had declared his unrequited love for Serena.  Now that his role in Tripp’s campaign for Congress was finished, and because he apparently doesn’t actually spend ANY time at Colombia, Mr Archibald has had time to think about his life.

 But, possibly because he isn’t yet able to think for more than five-minute periods, Nate’s decided he’s lonely.  He wants a girlfriend.  Any girlfriend.  He wants Serena, but it seems mainly because she’s the only girl he has seen all day. 

Probably if Blair, Vanessa or Jenny, hell even Dorota, had come to see him he’d be lusting after them instead.

 In the GG ranks, this was mid-level.  Too many plot strands that came out of nowhere (hello, as if Blair would ever be desperate enough to hang out with drama geeks – hasn’t she seen how uncool they always are in cringy American sitcoms?).

 Still some nice moments.  Jenny would read NYLON magazine (uber trendy NYC teen girl rag) and Dan would so do a celebratory, I’m so cool, street jig in memory of last nights steamy goings on.  Though for a far superior morning after dance, check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Bollywood style number in the fabulous 500 Days of Summer.

 And some corkers of lines, not least when Dan pays homage to his awesome mathamtical skills.  “Two girls. Four boobs. One Dan Humphrey,” he gloated. 

 A* for effort, Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl – The Grandfather Part II

If GG was one of those variety packs of chocolate bars, Nate Archibald would be a Milky Way. Nothing wrong with that – the chocolate is perfectly nice and the wrapping inoffensive. But not the most exciting pick, a little bland, uninspiring and unsophisticated.

Of all the characters he has been consistently the least engaging. Gorgeous, sure, but a tad dumb. Bit of a pothead, not very bright. Like most teenage boys then.

That was until this week, when we saw a new side to ole cheekbones – depth, personality, and even several unique facial expressions. Remember Tripp, one of Nate’s hugely irrelevant identikit family members? Well, he’s back and running for congress, with Nate, who at 18 has probably never voted, absurdly standing on the campaign frontline.

On election day, Tripp is caught on camera heroically saving the life of a drowning man, a feat that as audiences well know qualifies you for high political office. Except that the man wasn’t actually drowning but rather a trick pulled by one of the campaigns sinister puppet masters.

Putting a spanner in the works is Vanessa, who inevitably is documenting the campaign (because what every aspiring politician wants is some college activist privy to all his private moments).

But there she is, making yet another indie film. I wish the GG writers would realise that you can be arty and cool without always having a camera in your hand. And that having it doesn’t make Vanessa any less horrendous and pretentious.

Vanessa has the footage that proves the scam, and typically self-righteous, threatens to expose it as such before the polls close. In reality, someone so attention-starved wouldn’t have waited to sell it to a TV network, but put it straight out on YouTube. However she vacillates for a while, ruminating with faux concern about how much respect she has for the candidate whose chances she is likely ruining.

But Nate, the new improved Nate, seizes the day. With the shrewdness of a practiced politician, he plays Vanessa to stop her leaking the truth. Life sucks, V, doesn’t it.

Unfortunately, she just scams him right back and the truth comes out. So in a heartrending scene, he (although guiltless) takes the blame for the scandal so his cousin can win the vote.

In other news, Olivia reveals an embarrassing but highly dull secret about Dan on prime time TV (there is no way the bathroom boy scene would have been a YouTube hit).

More entertainingly, Serena and Blair are doing battle and B realises she needs to find a friend, stat (her lackeys not being good enough – “I don’t make friends with staff” she scoffs when one offers their services.) Blair’s pathological insecurities come out as she friend hunts with all the awkward anxiety of a spotty fourteen year old boy at a school disco

Naturally, she goes for the blonde with the good couture taste, and naturally, this is a disaster, because this psych major apparently doubles as a call girl, which is so NOT Waldorf-esque. It leads to some funny moments though, with Serena dunking Blair in a cake, and because when Serena gets all judgy about Blair’s new BFF, Blair makes the very valid point that Serena too is being paid to date her clients.

“If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck” she says, brilliantly serving Serena her just desserts.

At several points the characters seem to forget which show they are in. Vanessa berates Nate for his lack of moral compass (this from someone who lied to her roommate for the sake of a stupid speech). Similarly Serena says to Blair; “political connections aren’t the first thing most people look for in friends”. Excuse me?

The icing on the cake is Nate (he’s not totally lost his naivety) when he once again takes the prize for most oblivious teen heart-throb since Dawson didn’t know Joey was in love with him. “I wouldn’t exactly call revenge a good basis for friendship” he says. Uh, earth to GG. This is not the Hallmark channel, or an episode of Gilmore Girls. The show is ALL ABOUT being soulless, manipulative and vindictive.  HELLO, that’s what makes is so awesome.

Predictions for the future?  Blair looks set to spiral into a new low of unhappiness; good for us because sadness breeds spite which means Blair at her absolute best.   And with Serena and Tripp getting quite chummy at the end (and with him having an EVIL, SOULLESS wife), perhaps a love triangle with him, her and Nate?   Stranger things have happened on this show….