The events in the Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday were completely shocking. All those children and their teachers killed by a troubled young man who was able to access 3 guns with no problem. 26 families affected forever and a town that will not recover from this horror. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it is for the families who have lost loved ones and how those children who survived will begin to rebuild trust in people or get over the fear.

For Brits, the gun owning culture in the US is almost beyond comprehension. In Texas, it’s less restrictive than most states – you don’t need to register your shotgun or hunting rifle. You do need a Texas driving licence (but if you spend 5 minutes on the roads here, you’ll understand that this is not an onerous test…) and they will check your criminal and psychiatric records if you want a handgun. But with a conservative estimate of 270 million guns in the USA (and that’s just the ones people are admitting to…) there is no possible way to police any of this properly.

The USA is the most heavily armed country in the world. That’s right here in the US, not some war torn country were you might really need the protection. People can wander around with concealed handguns, if they have a licence or guns in their cars. That doesn’t make me feel safer…

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between 2006 and 2010 47,856 people were murdered in the U.S. by firearms. That’s twice as many as were killed by other methods combined. But for the gun lobby the guns aren’t the problem, it’s the people. Whilst you can’t deny this, unfortunately you can’t always pinpoint those who are danger to others and themselves. Surely with fewer guns around or if checks on owners were tighter, or secure storage were necessary these figures would be lower?

This year there have been several mass shootings. After every one there is a public outcry from many about the gun culture, the politicians saying something must be done, and the gun lobby always very quick to suggest that arming teachers, cinema attendants, the cinema audience etc etc is the way to protect people.

I’ve seen comments on news websites that if you can’t trust a teacher with a gun you shouldn’t trust them with your child. But I wouldn’t want that teacher to have to chose between getting the children to a safe place and shooting a gunman. The police are trained to do this, teachers shouldn’t have to be. Arming teachers cannot be a sensible way forward and with many public schools struggling for money here security guards and metal detectors are not the answer either. But what should they do?

It seems no one is brave enough to propose real change – the Constitution and the right to bear arms is enshrined within it is sacrosanct.

Maybe this time it will be different. Somehow, the killing of innocent children and the teachers who were trying to protect them might be the stimulus Obama needs.

Whatever happens, I can’t see the Texans giving up their guns without a fight. There’s already been a petition for Texas to leave the United States of America when Obama won the election last month and I think a change in the law regarding guns might give that some serious momentum.

Statue of Libert

This picture was posted on Facebook. If the Statue of Liberty could move I’m sure she would be crying this weekend.

2 thoughts on “Guns

  1. Nice thoughtful piece, Kate. Great stuff!!!! Mind you, I am certain it will change nothing – in my view, America is wedded to violence – just look at all the “popular” computer games and films. There are decent people there who are overwhelmed by the NRA etc – where money and profit are more important than people and leading decent, peaceable lives. I am very afraid that there is something truly sick in North American culture – and that naked Capitalism is at the foot of most of it. XXXX

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