14th January 2013
As I was tootling along the Lincolnshire lanes today watching the snow flakes fall like little stars between the leafless trees my mind wandered to the 20 children and six adults who were needlessly killed in Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut just before Christmas. I thought how those little children would never see such beautiful sights again. Never get to feel the softness of the snowflake on their nose or the tingle of flakes as they settle on their hair. Then Wayne LePierre’s words crossed my mind about how it was the fault of video games makers, the media, the film industry just about anyone except the person carrying the gun that they died. He demands the right to bear arms, says it is his Constitution right – a Constitution that is only a couple of centuries old and was drawn up in the time of violence and civil war – to bear arms. One has to ask the question would LePierre have said the same things if one of the 20 children at Sandy Hook had been his grandchild or one of the teachers his daughter or his wife. I guess not because his views are driven by an ideology that is stuck in the America of the Wild West that saw the Constitution as the only way to build a society. In a time when politicians lacked the insight to realise that by allowing people to carry a weapon of mass destruction it would in reality destroy their original desire that of their right to protect themselves.
If LePierre’s argument of “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” worked then gun crime would have died out in America years ago when they armed their police officers and when they put armed guards on the banks, airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses and sports stadiums he listed with great gusto. But it has not. The death rate continues and does not appear to be stopping any time soon.
No the way to stop gun crime is to remove the weapons from the streets. For the United States of America that does mean a major culture change. LePierre went on to say quote “They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them — it’s our right to protect them. You know, five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?” unquote. But surely the first thing Lanza would have done on arrival at Sandy Hook School would be to shoot the security guard and then gone on his killing spree. No the answer is to remove the right to bear arms and ensure that anyone who illegally carries a weapon knows that they spend a very long time reflecting on their actions behind bars.
Let us be realistic if we are a civilised society; and we claim in UK and USA to be civilised societies; then the answer to a grievance is as Churchill in the White House in 1954 is reported to have said “jaw jaw is better than war war”. We will never know what actually drove Lanza to do what he did. Furthermore there will be others who for whatever reasons believe the answer to their problem is go out and make a dramatic statement. What we as a society have to do is help them make their statement in a way that does not physically hurt others. Banksy made and continues to do so dramatic statements and whilst some may argue that they financially hurt some people they do not physically hurt them. The outcome of his actions has made him world renown and raised the profile of many causes. But more importantly if before you read this blog I had asked you two questions:
1 – who is the satirical street artist using subversive epigrams to get his message across and
2 – who entered a school in a Connecticut and shot teachers and pupils
would you have been able to name Adam Lanza as the answer to the second question. I doubt it. However, most of you would have guess Banksy as the answer to question one.
So it befalls to all of us and that includes Wayne LePierre and the NRA to put down our guns and teach our children the right way to address the pressures in life. We must train them how to talk through a painful problem, a distressing thought or a moment of anger. We also have to educate them to learn the difference between reality and fantasy. How the latter can be fun but has to be controlled and limited to consenting adults and how the former has consequences that can cause you and others life long pain.
So LePierre and Co at the NRA are you willing to risk that the next school killing in your county; and sadly I am sure there will be one; may include your child or grandchild? Or would you rather show you are man enough to recognize that the world has moved on from the days of Wyatt Earp and give up your right to bear arms.