Nobody who has even the smallest vestige of humanity can fail to be appalled at the massacre of children and staff at the school in Newtown in the USA last week.
Now, those of you who read me regularly will know that I steer clear of the 3 subjects that you don’t discuss in the pub; sex, religion and politics, but today I am going to break that rule a little because I believe that something needs to be said. So, it’s soap box time, folks. By all means feel free to ignore, criticise, disagree or whatever, but here is my take on what has happened and where we stand right now.
Let me say right at the beginning that I believe that American politicians have been too soft for too long on the issue of gun control. It doesn’t matter which way you cut it, America has the highest per-capita incidence of gun-related crime in the world. Why? Simple. because successive governments have seen the problem but have been unwilling/unable to stem the tide due to the enormous power exerted by the American gun lobby.
When Martin Bryant perpetrated the Port Arthur massacre it provoked the biggest crack-down on gun ownership that this country (Australia) has ever seen. The resulting gun amnesty saw hundreds of thousands of both legal and illegal firearms handed in, crushed and taken out of circulation permanently. The Australian people, horrified at the senseless loss of life, reacted as only a civilised society can do and backed the federal government’s tough new gun laws. The result has been that there has not been another mass shooting to even slightly rival Port Arthur, nor will there be.
Why doesn’t this happen in the USA? Last week’s horrific scenes have been repeated more than a dozen times across America in just this ONE CALENDAR YEAR. Has anything been done about it? No, nor will it BE done until the federal government stands up to the gun lobby and disarms the ordinary citizens whose houses are filled with guns FOR NO GOOD AND VALID REASON. “Oh, but, if you take away our guns, then only the criminals will have them,” they bleat. Well, guess what, Sherlock? The criminals have ALWAYS had the guns and they always WILL have them, but they are no threat because, the in the vast majority of cases, they use them against OTHER CRIMINALS, not the general public. NOT ONE of the school massacres that have taken place in America this year was perpetrated by a known “criminal”, that’s right, not one of them. These atrocities were all committed by “ordinary” citizens who had access to guns because of America’s STUPID insistence on the “right to bear arms” (enshrined in the Constitution but only EVER intended in the context of an armed militia in the event of major uprisings or enemy action on American soil.)
And it isn’t the “redneck” gun owner who is the threat here, either. Again, the majority of perpetrators of these atrocities have been “white collar” citizens, living in the cities and large towns.
The gun lobby in the USA is hideously powerful, monetarily and politically. Any politician who would join in a government-sponsored programme to limit gun ownership in the USA will receive a strong representation from the local gun fraternity letting him know that, if he wants to be re-elected, he’d better not join the campaign. It is that pernicious and dangerous.
So, will Newtown bring about a change in America’s obsession with guns? Of course it won’t. Will there be more school massacres like Newtown? Of course there will. It is a constant source of amazement to me that a whole nation can be so stupid and allow these things to happen just because they are afraid of what somebody else will think or do.
I am very glad I live where I live where the gun lobby isn’t telling my representatives what they can and can’t think, say and do. For a country that prides itself on its democracy, the USA is exhibiting all the hallmarks of a totalitarian regime.
*gets down off soap box*