(Another cross-posting from an old blog)
It has now been almost a week since the tragic mass-shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Listening to all the news reports, it reminded me so much of the shooting that happened in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996. I was 11 years old at the time of that shooting, and I remember how shocking and scary it was.
Now though, these events have taken on a different significance for me. Because, but for a twist of fate, I could have been the teacher of any of those children, both in Dunblane and Newtown. I teach children in that age group and younger. I often have sole responsibility for 20+ very young and vulnerable people. And when these tragic events happen, I find myself thinking about the teachers. What did they do to protect their children? And perhaps, what would I do?
An average day at school and no one could ever be prepared for the sound of gun shots somewhere in the building… It would be an incomprehensible nightmare come true. I find myself thinking about escape routes in schools I have known, items around the classroom that could become a weapon… I actually talked that one through with a friend the other day…
Thankfully though, I live in a country where this is an extremely rare event. But, perhaps most importantly, as a direct result of the Dunblane shooting, within the year, ALL unlicensed cartridge-loading handguns were banned in the UK. The only guns that remain legal are muzzle-loading and historic handguns. Security within schools was also tightened and new controls put in place with regard to building access.
Was there public uproar? No.
Have gun laws relaxed again? No.
Why couldn’t this work in America?
Well… To a Brit, so many aspects of life in America, which are so normal to them, are utterly incomprehensible to us. Be it their attitudes to guns, marriage, health care, social care, religion… For a country that regards itself as forward thinking and progressive, many of their attitudes seem stuck in the 1700s. You only have to look at the political parties to realise that… Our Conservative government has a very similar policy to the Liberal government in the States. Only difference being, that the things President Obama is campaigning for… we’d had sorted out 50 years ago. Britain basically looks like what America might look like if they manage to hold on to a Liberal government for the next 50 years…
And a (I think) key reason for our liberal nature? a quarter (roughly) of Brits identify as atheist. Compared to around 2% of Americans. Forecasts indicate that by 2018, Christians in the UK will be a minority group.
Should politics be tied to religion? Absolutely not.
Is politics tied to religion? In the USA, yes. In the UK, no.
Why can’t the American government outlaw guns?
Because they are scared.
Lobbyists from the NRA are a powerful group in politics. Essentially, if you want to get elected, it doesn’t hurt to keep the NRA on your side.
This is so many kinds of wrong.
But it works. Because these are white, upper-middle-class men.
To quote the brilliantly funny Louis CK, “I’m a white, middle class, man. You can’t even hurt my feelings!”
This group is, worldwide, the most privileged group on earth.
These men say, “You can’t ban guns. It’s my constitutional right to bear arms!”
Well you know what? Stuff your constitutional right. That was written in a time of single-shot muskets that took 4 minutes to re-load, in a time when many American’s lived in a land of untamed, dangerous wilderness. It was NOT intended for a world of automatic weapons that have the potential to kill 20 unarmed people in less than a minute. IT WAS NOT.
But what scares me even more?
It was something I saw via an American acquaintance on a blog. She claimed to have needed a gun “a number of times” in the past month alone to “protect their property”. HOLY WHAT? And the way she said it was, like, “no big deal…” If that had happened in England, it would be a public outrage, front page news and a public enquiry. Not an attitude of “meh.” And worse still, this is small-town-America. It’s a tiny place, quite literally in the middle of nowhere. It sure isn’t New York or Los Angeles.
And these obviously intelligent, caring, all-round-nice people, just don’t see how crazy that is. It, quite literally, makes my head explode.
These people are anti-gun-control because they need them to protect their homes… and yet say these burglars/child murderers committed their crimes because of lack of mental health resources and poor parenting… I mean… wtf? POOR PARENTING?
And yet, here in the UK, we have problems with mental health resources/care, we have social deprivation and poor parenting… BUT WE DON’T SELL GUNS IN SUPERMARKETS*. And because we’ve made it difficult to get hold of guns, we don’t see our children murdered in their classrooms.
Sorry America, but you need to grow some balls and step into the 21st century. How many more young people must be sacrificed before someone has the courage to say enough is enough?
Your relationship with guns has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Guns are easy to buy, so lots of people have them. Bad people have them and break into your houses. Good people need guns to protect themselves from bad people with guns… Luckily it’s easy to buy guns, so lots of people have them…
Get a clue.
*Seriously, one of the strangest and scariest things I saw in America was racks of guns for sale in Walmart. The equivalent of Tesco. Can you imagine how mad it would be to walk into Tescos and be all, "okay... milk... bread... fish... automatic weapons... pasta..." MADNESS.