A deadly blind spot in a great country

The most awful thing about the latest spree killing in the USA is that everyone implicitly understands that it won’t be the last.

When news came through of the massacre in the states I was by chance accompanying a colleague who was delivering his nine year old daughter to her ballet class.

The waiting area was full of doting parents and excited youngsters.

It was as it should be for any child, an expectation that life is wonderful.

I knew immediately that the old argument would be dusted off stateside by those who think that the Newtown massacre is acceptable collateral damage in the land of the free.

Jefferson’s revolutionary document is a work of enlightenment genius.

Basing a political system on what people will surely do rather than what we want them to do.

They had risen up against their British masters and had bested them on the battlefield.

The idea that everyone should be armed and ready to form into a local militia made complete sense.

The infant polity was threatened by many more numerous enemies.

When it came to defending that precious constitution there could be no passengers.

The President of the United States was the Commander in Chief and everyman was a soldier if it came to it.

In 2012 this constitutional right from the late 18th century just seems insane.

Before the identity of the most recent shooter was known I naturally assumed that he would be a troubled young man who had purchased his arsenal legally.

These incidents happen with such appalling regularity in the USA that it is difficult to recall them accurately.

They seem to merge in my memory into one grotesque video game where the carnage is not digital but utterly real.

This side of the pond we can vividly recall how we felt when he learned of Hungerford and Dunblane.

The people of Norway are unlikely ever to forget Anders Breivik.

Will Adam Lanza be so indelibly remembered by a group people in the USA years from now?

I would wager that most people in Scotland when given the word “Dunblane” don’t have to think too long before they respond with “Thomas Hamilton” usually with a few expletives added.

That which is cultural is not amenable to reason.

The fixation with firearms in the USA is highly cultural, especially handguns.

Indeed, the Colt Peacemaker is an iconic artefact of their origin myth as a people.

As more information was coming through about this slaughter my colleague and I occasioned upon three armed men, each with automatic pistols on their hip.

The trio were taking part in a public ceremony.

Once the Spanish flag was lowered and respectfully folded and paced on a tray the soldiers went back into the barracks in the small square in La Coruna.

Firearms have their place in any well ordered society.

They are awful,but sometimes necessary things.

My guide, a Canadian naturalised into Galicia by marriage and parenthood over many years, quietly explained why such carnage just didn’t happen in Canada despite lots of firearms in circulation.

The USA’s northern neighbour has vast wilderness areas and they are not short of human predators. A rifle is a handy thing to have about the place.

What they don’t have is a never ending supply of predatory humans intent on mass murder.

Sadly their fellow North Americans in the states have exactly that problem.

Just as I didn’t need to know anything about the shooter yesterday I don’t really feel the urge to seek out a statement from the National Rifle Association on this latest tragedy.

As usual Michael Moore’s moral compass was pointing in the right direction when he tweeted this:

[email protected] Just 18 hrs ago, those Republicans in the Michigan House rammed thru a bill making it LEGAL to carry a gun into a school or day care center.”

The social construction around firearms in the USA is a birth defect in that great country.

I hope that one day they can see what Michael Moore and the rest of the world can.

Until then there is no hope.

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