Sandy Hook School, Newton, Connecticut, 14/12/2012

Gun crime and murder are endemic to the United States but what happened in this quiet town in Connecticut was especially horrific. In this shooting, the latest in a long line of indiscriminate killings, twenty-six people were shot dead, six adults and twenty children aged six and seven.

This gun culture that infests the USA is one of the main reasons why I could never live there. It’s a culture that transcends race. No one is unaffected by it, be they W.A.S.P., Black, Hispanic, Jewish or Red Indian. Even the Amish have not escaped as those who remember the 2006 West Nickel Mines tragedy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, can tell you.

Needless to say, this has reignited the debate about guns in the USA with politicians everywhere blowing volumes of hot air about what a tragedy this is and how something should be done and that there has been lots of rhetoric but little or no action. The really depressing thing is, this is not the first time such an atrocity has happened (although it is the first to involve so many children) and it will not be the last.

Politicians can pass all the anti-gun legislation they want but this obsession the American people have with firearms is too deeply ingrained for legislation to have any really positive effect.

A further problem lies with the American Constitution. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of American citizens to have weapons, be they guns, cannons or swords. And to most Americans the Constitution is like Holy Writ. To do away with any part of the Constitution would be to a Christian  like doing away with any of the Books of the New Testament.

In short, it’s no good just taking away the people’s weapons. Their hearts and minds will have to change too. Unless that happens these tragedies will repeat and repeat and repeat and this never-ending gun debate will only ever be resolved when the last two Americans in the world have shot each other dead.

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