A huge swathe of Americans have a love affair with guns. Despite having spent two decades enjoying their wonderful country, I met few such people, nor Republicans, KKK, Proud Boys or anyone with NRA membership. They exist in some number. They enjoy the same rights and freedoms as any American citizen. Whether that should include owning guns is a matter of debate.
But I dispute their insistence that guns are a necessary part of American life and they cite the Second Amendment—the one that says “…the right to bear arms shall not be infringed” as justification. What they don’t cite, in the bit before that, written in a time when redcoats threatened and actually burned Washington, “for the maintenance of a well trained militia, the right to bear…etc.” despair at their attitude distresses me, not because I aspire to tell other countries how to shape their culture. Britain tried that; it was called “Empire”, but we have learned better—at least most of us have. What bothers me most is the sheer self-contradictory palpable nonsense the gun lobby uses as justification” “if guns were outlawed, only outlaws would have guns.”
The USA has more guns than people (1.2 per person), resulting in over 38,000 homicides (14,000) and suicides (24,000) by guns each year. Those numbers would wipe out everyone in my county in three years. The USA has TEN times as many guns per head than Iraq, TWENTY times more than Syria (and 25 times more per head than Britain). The only gun here I have seen in the 28 years back in Scotland belongs to an old mate. It is a shotgun he uses on pheasants pillaging local farmers’ crops.
Forget that the US has six times the UK’s population. US rate of death of all types from guns runs over 12 people per 100,000 population, sixty times the UK rate of 0.2. I make no case that the UK is in any way ‘better’ than the US. But why are enlighten and humane people over there (of which there are many) not bludgeoning myopic NRA members and Trumpista Republicans over the head with such stats until they see sense and the slaughter is bought down fro outrageous to acceptable?
And don’t just compare with the UK; it is no outrider. The rest of Europe, Canada, East Asia and even the Middle East, for heaven’s sake, are all markedly better than the US on this measure. How can anyone in a supposedly advanced, wealthy civilisation tolerate gun deaths that ranks them with the Third World, mafiosi or Tong gangsters?
It was just as well that the Capitol police were as passive as they wee on January 6th when the mob stormed in. Had they used their firearms, there is every chance that enough of the mob had brought the arms they have a right to bear with them. That would have been a bloodbath and such a shock, an Armageddon of democracy that would have taken decades to heal.