Wild West cul­ture lives on as gun law vic­tims lie dead on streets of Amer­ica

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - OPINION -

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,

Ted O’Ke­effe,


Dublin 6.

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