Over a barrel
Wise Words: barrel
Piers Morgan, the British journalist who now hosts an American talk show for CNN, came under fire this week. Alex Jones, a controversial and outspoken radio host, was on Morgan’s show to debate the topic of gun control in the US. He was invited on the show because Jones had created a petition online calling for Morgan to be deported. Why? In an interview in December with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, Morgan had called Pratt “a stupid man” for wanting to give guns to teachers in schools and had strongly criticized the lack of gun control in the US. With the interview coming just five days after gunman Adam Lanza had killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the call for more guns seemed insane. At least, to a Brit.
Many Americans may not agree with the argument for guns in schools, either, but many more are not willing to give up their constitutional right to bear arms.
In the UK, such a debate would never take place. The idea that a teacher, or anyone else, would need a gun, let alone a semi-automatic rifle, for self-defence is crazy. We don’t even allow all of our police officers to have guns.
Instead, we prefer to drink ourselves to death.
According to an article in The Economist, alcohol-linked deaths in the UK have risen by 20 per cent over the past ten years. One in six British adults get drunk at least once a week. And when we say drunk, we mean blind drunk. And they’re proud of it. Any attempt to make it more difficult — or expensive — for people to get drunk is met with strong opposition. The right to booze is part of the culture, just as the right to shoot is for the Americans.
One word comes to mind when I think of these two views: barrel.
On one side of the Atlantic, people are focused on the barrel of a gun. On the other, the British prefer to focus on the other meaning of barrel: the one that contains alcohol. Both can be deadly.
Expressions with “barrel”
give sb. both barrels
The “barrel” in this idiom is the barrel of a gun. If you give someone both barrels, you criticize that person with great energy or emotion.
- “In the interview, Alex Jones gave Morgan both barrels.”
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