More guns? Get real, NRA!
Normal service is resumed. This blog, rudely interrupted by crazed folk shouting in panic that the end of the world was upon us, took to its silo but has now emerged, ashamed that it ran scared in the face of something as harmless as a mere apocalpyse.
And to what has it emerged? Something far scarier – the National Rifle Association, no less. A couple of years ago, in an earlier draft of The Girl with the Haunting Smile, I said there were only three things I didn’t like about America. One of them was the gun laws. I’ve forgotten the other two, which proves what a big fan of the US I am.
But even I didn’t believe this great country could produce such a nut as Wayne LaPierre, one of the NRA’s top dogs, whose response to the Sandy Hook massacre of young kids and teachers was that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. The only way? Really? How about stopping the bad guy from having a gun in the first place?
If LaPierre’s vomit-inducing statement is the “meaningful contribution” the NRA promised after Sandy Hook, God help us all. Yet we shouldn’t really be surprised. LaPierre is a lobbyist by trade and the NRA is known for its fearsome lobbying activities on Capitol Hill. The ready availability of guns will be curtailed over its dead body (a consummation devoutly to be wished).
What gives the NRA such influence is the antiquated Second Amendment to the Constitution, which states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. This reference to militia and free state make it clear what the lawmakers of the era had in mind. They were making provision for a citizens’ army, not issuing a license to kill to deranged individuals. But the Second Amendment still stands and is a formidable barrier to gun law reform. Until, miraculously, it is scrapped or reworked, the awful events of Sandy Hook will be repeated and LaPierre, who called for armed guards to be put in place at every US school, will be able to say sanctimoniously, “I warned you, didn’t I?”
We Brits also had a dreadful school massacre (Dunblane in 1996) but at least it was followed by a vigorous public debate and two Firearms Acts which made it illegal to possess handguns. If we’d had an NRA, we’d still be debating.