Note: I wrote this the day of the Sandy Hook massacre, but decided it was too soon to publish it.Since then it’s been rather overtaken by event’s, which it’s been tweaked to take into account.
After the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut (20 children and 6 adults dead) , the Web is alive with calls for gun control in the US. As, indeed, is the US itself, apparently.
That’s a sentiment with which – much of the time – I concur. The rest of the time I wish the citizens of this benighted land were armed – but that’s a story for another day. The question is, though, after a several centuries of barely constrained gun ownership, is any sort of gun control even possible?
I’m sorry to say I think the answer is no. Never mind the NRA and its “From my cold, dead, hands!” bullshit – and I’m sure a lot of people would be happy to arrange that right now – I think that there are simply too many guns in the hands of too many people. And too many of those don’t have both oars in the water.
Today (December 21), the NRA have tried to shift the blame for Sandy Hook to violent computer games and movies, among much else, which has brought almost universal condemnation down on them but, here’s the thing – you simply CANNOT totally disregard such a claim simply because it’s being made by the arseholes of the NRA. Mind-numbing violence is such a major feature of so many video games that I find it very hard to believe that, among their more impressionable and badly-screwed-together fans, they do not exercise a malign and potentially lethal influence.
Ban the guns! – screamed Twitter, at the time. How the fuck? I ask in despair at kneejerk reactions. More reasonable people suggest that there should be far more stringent restrictions on actually buying a gun. Can’t argue with that, but it would do bugger all to reduce the number of guns already out there, and that’s the biggest problem. And, in anticipation of impending restrictions, America has gone on a gun-buying binge. Hands up anyone whom that surprises…
I don’t have any numbers to support this, frankly because I can’t be bothered hunting them down, but I’d guess that there are at least as many guns in America as there are people, quite possibly more in some states, like Texas.
And just a few days ago a guy was arrested for, among other things, threatening to set fire to his wife– he had 47 guns! (source: Sky news)
No matter how many psychos run amuck, or how many innocent people die, gun ownership is a bell that is impossible to un-ring – a genie that can’t be put back in its bottle. Pick your own metaphor – it won’t get any more possible.
It would take an amendment of the constitution to change the current ownership situation (and, of course, it’s a misinterpretation of the 2nd amendment that caused the whole gun problem in the first place (not to mention it being compounded by the cretins in the US supreme court in 2008 – I hope they’re feeling proud right now – so better pay close attention to the wording, Pres), and that would be political suicide even if the attempt failed. A president in his last term might be minded to make the attempt, but despite the intense pressure to do something, I have little doubt that, as ever, anything Obama tries to do will be blocked by the GOP.
Even so, if a total ban on gun sales were to be implemented next week, and there’s no chance of that, there would still be enough weaponry in circulation to launch WW3! And I’m talking here about normal, law-abiding citizens – not the fruitcakes with 47 guns, or more, the lunatic survivalists, or the rightwing compound dwellers up in the Great North Woods or wherever.
FFS! a year or so ago a bank was giving rifles to new customers – what can you do with a culture that treats guns as casually as toys?
America, from the ground up, is fixated on guns. Even the most inoffensive, mild-mannered citizen thinks nothing of arming himself to the teeth at home, for protection, and is it Vermont – or New Hampshire, with its apparently bellicose state motto “Live free or die” – that allows guns to be carried in public at all times? (I think it’s Vermont.)
While, ideally, some mechanism needs to be set in place to help identify those with berserker tendencies before, rather than after, the event (though the practical difficulties might be insurmountable,**) and the control of gun ownership needs to be tightened, even to the extent of peering into the medical records of owners to see if they are potential threats. That wouldn’t stop disaffected kids taking their fathers’ armoury to school and lighting up their classmates, but it would be a step in the right direction.
**The NRA made a similar suggestion, which was roundly condemned, mainly because it came from the NRA I suspect, but cross-referencing with the NRA membership database might be educational.
And restricting ownership to a handgun for domestic defence, plus a shotgun and a hunting rifle – hell, urban Americans who have never even got mud on their Gucci loafers own hunting rifles – goddamn macho jackasses. And that’s it, that’s all any sane person needs – and two more than most truly have need for.
No-one, absolutely no civilian, should be able to buy and own an assault rifle, the primary purpose of which is offence, as was demonstrated in Newtown, where the culprit used not one, but several, assault rifles, with high-capacity clips. And that, perfectly, demonstrates the lunatic depths of America’s obsession with guns – one man can only shoot one rifle at a time.
A case can be made for sporting weapons, and those for home defence, but for assault weapons there can never be any justification at all for them being in private hands.
And that’s what Obama plans to tackle – assault weapons and high-capacity mags. But while that will help, it won’t solve the underlying problem – too many guns already out there, and too many psychopaths.
And, of course, it remains to be seen if he can get it past the GOP’s inbuilt, kneejerk, obstructionism?
I’m not holding my breath.