Tuesday, February 20, 2018

After Vegas: After Parkland: After the next time?

I wrote the following after the Las Vegas shootings but in the end decided not to publish it. No particular reason, it just didn't seem appropriate at the time. I don't know why. But history has repeated itself and once again I fid myself looking in form the outside and asking the same questions. Something in me wants to let those within the USA who want to see change that they are not alone in the world. 

It's been a few days since the awful tragedy in Las Vegas unfolded. Along with many of my fellow UK citizens, I remain somewhat dumbfounded by the continuing reluctance of a civilised society to change its attitude and its legal system with regard to the ownership of guns.

We don't challenge the US from the outside with some sense of superiority. We challenge because we don't understand how a nation can continue to be wedded to the idea that guns, and the apparent ease with which they can be acquired, are not a factor in these events. We listen to the arguments that guns don't kill people, people kill people and shake our heads. Why? Because we can't understand how other cannot see the simple logic that if you put a gun in someone's hand you increase the possibility of it being used.

The sad truth of it is that it appears to those of us on the outside that the nation is so entrenched in its defence of an amendment to its constitution that it's forgotten that it is an amendment and could be changed if there was the political will to do so. That's what amendments are. Changes. Alterations to improve or clarify. And surely by now everyone can see the need for clarification and change.

In 1996 Thomas Hamilton walked into a Primary school in Dunblane and killed 16 children and a teacher. As a nation we said, "No more, this has to change." We changed our law. There were some who raised objections, who questioned the knee-jerk response, but we made the change. We understood that he was unstable. We could have described him as 'sick and demented'. We could have called his actions 'pure evil'. We probably did. But then we acted.

From the outside it appears that the US has decided that the death of children is bearable (Sandy Hook) for the sake of retaining a freedom that looks more like an irresponsibility that it does a right. In the aftermath of what has been reported as the worst mass-killing in recent history, will the same attitude prevail?

Steve Turner, a Christian poet, once wrote:

History repeats itself.
Has to.
No one ever listens.

Is anyone listening now?

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