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Proud of Great Britain for more than just tea and Olympics

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Recently the lax gun laws of which the USA is so proud made it possible for one man to walk into a darkened cinema and gun down 12 innocent people. Victims as young as six, whose only crime was to be the kind of fans who go to midnight showings of Batman films, were killed in cold blood.

Although suspect James Holmes should not be absolved of any guilt for the crime, he was able to buy and hoard firearms with which to carry out a horrific attack. He didn't have to pass any tests and nobody noticed. The consequences were terrible.

I'm proud to live in a country with some of the strictest firearms laws in the world, where the response to a tragic shooting in 1996 was to tighten gun law. Not as some US outlets have suggested this week, to justify gun ownership.

Elsewhere in America, the state of Georgia is preparing to execute a man with an IQ of just 70 points, below the threshold for mental disability.

Warren Hill won an 11th hour stay of execution on Monday evening over the method used but his execution is still scheduled to go ahead.

Regardless of your stance on the death penalty, most can agree that to use the death penalty on someone with an intellectual disability is at best morally dubious. The Supreme Court of the USA agreed, ruling in 2002 that to execute the 'mentally retarded' constituted a cruel and unusual punishment.

Because the standard of proof for 'mentally retarded' is set by individual state legislature, Georgia is still able to execute Hill unless he can prove his disability beyond all reasonable doubt. This is the highest standard of proof possible and medical professionals say it isn't possible to prove.

A man with a severe mental handicap will, in all probability, be killed on a technicality.

I couldn't be prouder to live in a country where not only would someone mentally disabled never be sentenced to death, but where we don't have a death penalty at all.

Syrian citizens are being killed by their own renegade government. In Russia, freedom of experession is just a platitude. The people of China are oppressed and censored on a daily basis.

Every country has its flaws and life in the UK in 2012 is far from perfect. Unemployment is high, we're in a recession, the bankers are scamming us and the journalists are hacking us.

But we've got healthcare to be jealous of, great access to education, a legal system we can have faith in and a welfare state which by and large protects the most vulnerable in our society.

So in 2012, a year in which we've been suffocated with Union Jacks, Team GB and the Royal Family, I'm proud to be British – but because of the society we live in, our freedoms and the priveleges we take for granted... not just Marmite, tea and the Olympics!




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