I talked to a journalist the other day; and forgot to clarify whether I was on or off the record. So my heart leapt to my mouth this morning when I realised I had been quoted, perfectly accurately, as saying that a senior UN official has a record of “infuriating friends, colleagues and allies.” A quick and grovelling phone call to the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague followed. But her political adviser told me not to worry. “First of all,” he said “We hadn’t actually picked up on this report. And secondly, I think she will be flattered rather than annoyed!”


One thought on “*Gulp*

  1. Actually, Fred’s dead wrong about Glock.

    If you visit the UK you’ll see them everywhere, whenever you go through an airport — in the belt holsters of armed police officers. Cops love them; the Glock 17 is the standard handgun used by most British police forces.

    Glock is a manufacturer of semi-automatic pistols who came up with a couple of innovative tweaks. Large chunks of the body are made of resin rather than metal (so they’re light), they have an innovative safety mechanism (whereby there’s no separate safety catch but they can’t fire unless the human is holding them correctly and squeezing the trigger), and most importantly, they don’t jam. (Or rather, they jam a lot less often than other semi-automatics.)

    The one point that’s picking up a lot of stick is that, while a revolver holds 4-7 rounds in the chamber, and a regular automatic magazine holds 7-10 rounds, Glock manufacture an optional 15-round magazine for their pistols (by cunningly staggering the cartridges, zig-zag style, inside it to fit an extra 50% in).

    I’ve fired one, on a range. I liked it, a lot. The 15-round magazine means more time plinking away at a paper target between reloads. That’s all.

    My understanding is the police don’t bother with the 15 round magazine — it makes the pistol heavier, and if you’re a cop and you’re engaged in a firefight with, say, someone attacking you or civilians around you, things have gone lethally off the rails if you need to fire off more than a single handful of rounds.

    But demonizing Glock pistols or extended magazines makes no sense. The Arizona assassin stopped to swap magazines during his shooting spree, then continued; he managed to empty both the magazines he’d come with before anyone got to him and prevented him refilling them (a much more time-consuming process). Presumably if 15 round magazines were banned, he’d just have bought an extra 10 round magazine. If Glock products were banned, he’d have bought a Colt or a Beretta. And if guns were banned, he’d have bought a sword.

    The real problems are the American attitudes to (a) mental illness and (b) gun control. And I submit that while (b) is deplorable, it’s less important than (a), given that a huge proportion of the US prison population these days are mentally ill.

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