If not now..... When?
I imagine most people, particularly parents, where once again brutally shaken by the truly appalling news from Connecticut yesterday.
One morning during my first visit to America in the mid 1980's I accompanied a friend and her young children to a local elementary school in upstate New York, I have wonderful memories of that visit, seeing the delight and excitement of her children as they met their friends, the general feeling of community among the teachers and parents.
Yesterday, seeing the images from Newtown of the children, their parents and the police in such a calm, suburban environment was beyond description.
I knew I shouldn't but I was so upset I tweeted some randomly picked statistics about the horrific level of gun deaths in the USA.
"Last year Handguns Killed: 48 in Japan, 8 in Great Britain, 34 in Switzerland, 52 in Canada, 58 in Israel, 21 in Sweden, 10,728 in the United States.
I was criticised for reaction too soon and that now isn't the time for such discussion but surely, if not now, America, when?
I was criticised and accused of making up the figures, continually asked for the source by the ever-aggressive pro-gun lobby. All figures are nonsense.
There are dozens of contradictory figures from all manner of sources, but they all add up to the same thing no matter where they are from. Every table points out a massive discrepancy, the number of gun related deaths in America is off the scale. It is an epidemic, nowhere else on earth, including Mexico are as many people killed year after year by handguns.
I also shouldn't have done it because all such rational, fact based, bloody obvious arguments are immediately picked up by gun nuts. The yawn inducing 'more people are killed by drunk drivers' or 'what about the man who stabbed children in China' or the mind numbingly stupid and intellectually illiterate 'guns don't kill people, people....' oh, I can't even be bothered to write it.
I've lived in the UK for 56 years, I've known criminals, drug dealers, crazy bikers, angry husbands, charming vicars, hippy gardeners, extreme cyclists and civil servants. I have never met anyone who owns a handgun other than Craig Charles, but his are replica guns he used to use on stage. No one I know owns a handgun, some of my rural neighbours own shot guns, kept in locked cabinets and incredibly tightly controlled. I have never owned, wanted to own or for one brief moment considered owning a handgun.
A handgun is a weapon; it’s no good for anything else, it’s manufactured to shoot people at close range. I have fired handguns in gun clubs in America. You need to be very close to your target, they would be useless for 'hunting,' they have absolutely no other purpose than to shoot people.
The perverse twisting of the intention of the founding fathers to defend their country against my moronic, colonialist forefathers has gone beyond anything they could have imagined. As many people have said, it’s the mind-set of many American people who have been taught; in fact the idea has been hammered into them from childhood. It is your basic human right to carry a firearm, some blokes said so back in the 1700’s so it must be true.
No, it’s not a basic human right, in fact it’s a plain and simple basic human wrong.