I'm a big fan of all technologies google, and my homepage is the personalized google. Its primary purpose is to deliver unto me the Reuters "Oddly Enough" news, which purports to provide strange news from around the globe. It's exceptionally interesting to see what kind of U.S. news passes as "strange", especially since some of it is things that happen every day here. Most of it deals with our government boning someone.
Today, however, the U.S. got into the weird world news because New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's car was stolen (yesterday) while his assistant (must be nice) was moving it someplace. Someone came up, started arguing with him, punched him in the face, and carjacked him. The cops found the car abandoned two hours later, but they are still searching for suspects. I'll get to the point of this in a bit.
Also yesterday, a 67-year old Brazilian grandmother and ex-nurse shot a would-be mugger in the hand with a .38 pistol, and is receiving "the Pedro Ernesto Merit medal, for exceptional service to the city of Rio de Janeiro." Unfortunately, she is also receiving a negative sort of citation for carrying an unregistered firearm. "Police argue the award sets a bad example, especially since the gun had not been legally registered."
Now that I've got both of these issues on the page, I can talk about them. The first is a confrontation that could very likely have been solved by pointing a gun at the person and driving away quickly. The second is a confrontation that was successfully resolved with a firearm, and even recognized as being worthy of merit (to the point of awarding a literal merit badge) yet the policia (or however you say that in Brazilian Portuguese, I'll have to ask my friend sometime) are intent on punishing her. Whatever they say, it's not because it's a bad example; in fact it's a very good example. It's because they want to be in complete control of the citizenry and just like here in America, they can't do that if they're armed.
In fact, I was just babbling about this on Slashdot; as gun crime has increased, guns have become increasingly more difficult to get. Fifty years ago you could walk into a gun store and, if you looked like you were 18, buy a pistol and ammunition. There didn't even used to be any restrictions on whether you could own a fully automatic weapon. In fact, various states including California used to explicitly protect your right to carry firearms on public property, which includes schools and courthouses. But we can't have this today, because if people could bring their guns to court, then judges (or, more to the point, legislatures) might be motivated to actually rule in the public interest.
This, of course, is not in the best interests of those who have the most to gain by maintaining the status quo. The Second Amendment is our only real protection against a fascist government, because words don't stop bullets. You have only those rights which no one deprives you of; it's all well and nice to say you have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but someone can take that away from you with one gun and one bullet - and you can make both the gun and the bullet completely out of parts and with tools that you can buy from the hardware store. I've personally seen homemade submachine guns with silencers and anyone with a little bit of engineering and machining ability (and a small lathe, which is actually not hard to come by at all) can do the same.
Incidentally, I found this nifty site full of pro-second-amendment leaflets. Good stuff if you need propaganda in favor of your rights (at least in the US) instead of the crap they cook up to run against the truth.