A woman likes guns. She likes shooting them and she believes she’s going to need them to keep the world at bay, so she collects them, because she has a constitutional right to own them. Her son takes them, kills her, several teachers and 20 primary school children. If a boy is disturbed, inclined to suicide or violent outbursts, even if only for a brief drunken or confused moment in an otherwise sane and balanced life, the ready availability of guns makes a very nasty outcome depressingly inevitable. The gun lobby in the USA responded to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, by suggesting that the obvious solution is to have armed guards in schools. Of course, the solution is more guns.
After the Dunblane massacre in Scotland, the British response was to make the private ownership of handguns illegal. I like to think that the Firearms (Amendment) Acts of 1997 were not so much a piece of criminal legislation as a constitutional statement: We, the People, abjure any right to carry instruments that are designed purely for the purpose of harming other human beings. It is impossible, as a Brit, to make any sense at all of people who believe that the constitutional right to own, carry, and shoot firearms provides a vital bulwark against the threat of tyranny. Most sane people understand that the best bulwark against tyranny is the ballot, not the bullet. Most sane people see that the stockpiling of guns by weirdo militias is an invitation to tyranny, not a bulwark against it. Most sane people see that one person’s right to carry guns destroys everyone else’s right not to have to. Listening to the gun lobby’s response to the Newtown massacre, and hearing of the impossibility of anti-gun legislation in the USA, I begin to wonder if we occupy the same planet.
And then a couple of unarmed members of staff in a school in California bravely talk a disturbed gunman out of carrying out another massacre and I think maybe there is hope for the sanity of the human race.