What the rest of the world feels like do­ing now is grab­bing Amer­ica by its lapels and scream­ing into its fat, florid, stub­born face – But it won’t ever lis­ten any­way. Ever

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News -

This is an aw­ful sen­tence to type in con­nec­tion with the events in Las Ve­gas…but this week I could al­most have pulled out any of the half-adozen pieces I’ve had printed in th­ese pages on US gun mas­sacres in the last five years.

Aurora (12 dead). Sandy Hook (27 dead). Charleston (nine dead). Or­lando (49 dead). San Bernardino (14 dead). And Las Ve­gas (at least 58 dead). All since I started writ­ing this col­umn in 2012.

And that’s just the big ones. There are more than a dozen other shoot­ings in­volv­ing three to 10 peo­ple in that same time pe­riod.

You get numb recit­ing the list. You get numb with the sta­tis­tics. And part of you, as a colum­nist, is worse than numb. Part of you is al­most hos­tile to the idea of writ­ing about it again, know­ing as you do be­yond all doubt that a col­umn in a Scot­tish news­pa­per will have about as much ef­fect on US gun pol­icy as a note writ­ten on a piece of toi­let pa­per and thrown into the At­lantic.

You also won­der about the waste of en­ergy too – an­other voice howl­ing in use­less out­rage amid the tens of thou­sands of words of newsprint that Stephen Pad­dock will draw into him­self like a vac­uum.

But not to write about what hap­pened in Las Ve­gas feels in­sane too.

The de­tails are so fa­mil­iar at this point that they’ve be­come cliché. Pad­dock reads like a char­ac­ter in a badly writ­ten novel: The loner, the “quiet” neigh­bour who “kept him­self to him­self ”, who “just went about his busi­ness”, part of that busi­ness be­ing qui­etly stock­pil­ing the cache of 23 guns his body was sur­rounded by when the po­lice burst into his ho­tel room. And, here, the non-Amer­i­can reader al­most sits bolt up­right in their seat, all of us think­ing roughly the same thing: On what planet is it pos­si­ble for some­one to stock­pile 23 guns with­out ring­ing some alarm bells?

On Planet Amer­ica, of course. It’s been noted that the US is not so much a coun­try as its own planet. And it is on Planet Amer­ica – and nowhere else in the “civilised” world – that pri­vately stock­pil­ing dozens of au­to­matic weapons seems to be pos­si­ble.

One of the priv­i­leges (and curses) of be­ing a writer who works from home is the lux­ury of be­ing able to watch as much wall-to-wall rolling news cov­er­age as you like.

So I sat there on Mon­day morn­ing, flip­ping be­tween CNN and Sky News, the BBC and NBC, grad­u­ally be­com­ing glazed with hor­ror as the death toll climbed and the pun­dits talked on.

I wit­nessed some­thing like the fol­low­ing ex­change a cou­ple of times and have para­phrased it here…

“And I think, Jim, the fact some­one could check into a ho­tel with that amount of weaponry, we need to ask se­ri­ous ques­tions about ho­tel se­cu­rity…” “Yes. And also about the wis­dom of hold­ing large, open-air pub­lic events in ar­eas over­looked by high build­ings.” That’s right – they were talk­ing about air­port-style se­cu­rity in the lob­bies of Mar­riotts and Hil­tons. They were talk­ing about ban­ning con­certs in pub­lic squares. They were talk­ing about ev­ery­thing. Ex­cept for BAN­NING HIGH-POW­ERED WEAPONS THAT CAN KILL HUN­DREDS OF PEO­PLE IN MIN­UTES. My up­per case feels jus­ti­fied here. Be­cause that’s what the rest of the world feels like do­ing now. Grab­bing Amer­ica by its lapels and scream­ing into its fat, florid, stub­born face: “YOUR WAY IS NOT WORK­ING.” I tweeted some­thing to this ef­fect and watched in amaze­ment as this (to us) blind­ingly sim­ple state­ment of fact got 46,000 retweets, more than 120,000 likes and nearly 2000 com­ments, many of them from Amer­ica.

While there was much righ­teous anger and good sense in th­ese com­ments, there were also the NRA ma­ni­acs. The 2nd Amend­ment War­riors. The Gun Nuts.

And they were all say­ing the stuff they al­ways say: “Guns don’t kill peo­ple, peo­ple do. Cars kill thou­sands ev­ery year – are you go­ing to ban cars? If more peo­ple had been armed, they could have stopped him.” And on and on and on.

A foam­ing sea of id­iocy whose cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect is to make you re­alise this: Amer­i­cans will never give up their guns. You could have a Las Ve­gas ev­ery week and it would make no dif­fer­ence.

I found my­self think­ing back to this Jan­uary. To the un­be­liev­able mo­ment of the ma­niac’s in­au­gu­ra­tion. He stood up there, on that cold win­ter af­ter­noon, and said, his tiny fin­ger stab­bing the air for em­pha­sis: “This Amer­i­can car­nage stops. Right here, right now…”

Well, as with ev­ery­thing, Trump was wrong. The Amer­i­can car­nage will go on and on and on…

A woman weeps at me­mo­rial on the Ve­gas Strip

BAD TASTE An ad for The Ve­gas Ma­chine Gun Ex­pe­ri­ence last week

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