Wild West culture lives on as gun law victims lie dead on streets of America
SIR, Once again we are in a period of mourning for innocent lives; this time in the attack in Las Vegas – the latest gun massacre in the US. Once again there are various reactions, much as before: genuine sorrow, politicians’ promises, crocodile tears and much glee by gun dealers at the prospect of sales rocketing again at the threat of gun control measures.
The main problem is the easy availability of guns. This is due to America’s gun culture which, historically, has been sustained by many groupings and interests, particularly the National Rifle Association (NRA) but also the Ku Klux Klan, Black Power movement etc. Of these the NRA is the most prominent and challenging. Its members regard themselves as “the tireless defenders” of the Second Amendment and somehow have enormous political and societal clout. When confronted, their defence is as bamboozling as a maze: for example, a gun owner said on radio lately that it is not the gun that’s the problem; it is the bullets that cause the harm. Another argument is that it is not the gun; it’s the individual firing the gun that is the problem. What the many innocent lives it takes to do so.
When is all this slaughter going to stop? There are vested interests promoting gun culture and making vast fortunes thereby. There is also paranoia among residents, encouraged no doubt by the gun makers, causing them to buy weapons for personal safety.
On the other hand it could be argued that ‘ the home of the brave’ is still only emerging from the recent Wild West period where guns were an everyday fact of life. The US is a relatively young conglomeration of states and maybe it has teething problems which, perish the thought, could take hundreds of years to settle. Europe was in a similar position for hundreds if not thousands of years, with disparate interests, groupings, clans etc. fighting among themselves and with outsiders before only recently settling down to a reasonably civilised state, without the gun. How long will it take to get over these growing pains in America? Is Mise,