The NRA should update its slogan. Because it turns out they’re right – people do kill people, specifically at schools right across America. By the SMH‘s count, the truly tragic execution of at least three Amish schoolgirls today is the third school shooting in the past week. So really, how many more people have to die before the US gets halfway sane on gun laws? Do we have to get to a half-dozen? Double figures? Come on, surely people in America aren’t ignoring Michael Moore?
The alleged gunman Charles Carl Roberts had a cache with three guns – downright scary ones too, by the sounds of them. I don’t really know my weapons, but “Ruger bolt-action” doesn’t sound like something an “enthusiast” might need for a “hobby”. (Check out this article on Bill Ruger, “America’s gunmaker”. What a guy.) Roberts also had a stun gun, hacksaw, pliers, tape, even a bucket for his waste… this guy was clearly not just your common-or-garden freak, but a hardcore nutjob who had planned his siege with psychotic foresight.
Last week, in Bailey, Colorado, a gunman shot a schoolgirl in quite similar circumstances, and the Roberts killing may have been a copycat incident. While on Friday, a school principal was shot dead in Wisconsin by a 15-year-old kid after being busted for having tobacco. Is this contagious, or something?
Is it too outrageous to suggest that if guns weren’t readily available in most American homes, virtually none of these people would be dead? In American politics, it is, actually. But, just for argument’s sake, let’s look at the other arguments the gun lobby uses to defend their right to have devices that make it easy to kill people on hand.
It’s a sport.
Okay, so let’s just set aside the obvious point that anyone who feels that pumping bullets into living animals is a bit of fun on the weekend probably needs therapy, rather than indulgence. As someone who quite enjoys gun-based video games, and has executed many criminals in Virtua City over the years, I can understand how that’s fun. But come on – play paintball, or shoot skeet or something. Go to a rifle range. And lock the guns up there, and don’t have them in your house. I just can’t see why even an Olympic-level shooter would need to keep guns in the home. At least out in the city.
It’s for self-defence.
If people keep guns for self-defence, all that means is that burglars and so on carry guns as well. So someone who just wants to knock your house off for a heroin fix suddenly gets in a position where they might have to kill you, or be killed themselves. No-one who invades your home is going to want to add a murder rap unless they have to. I’ve been burgled, and really, it’s not that big a deal. You just buy new stuff on insurance.
It’s about liberty.
I just hate this argument, but okay. There’s an idea that in America, the citizens should be able to rise up against the US Government if it were to become tyrannical. And that’s why all those survivalist rednecks keep weapons handy. Where to start with this? Okay, well, let’s just imagine that the US Government could actually became tyrannical. A loose collective of probably-inbred freakboys with pop-guns are hardly likely to stand up to the overwhelming military might of the US Army. (Well, except in Iraq.) The idea that lovers of liberty might band together and take back Washington for the people is just moronic. Ask anyone in Thailand whether they’d like to face down one of those tanks that’s scattered across Bangkok. If America’s serious about allowing its citizens to carry the means of genuinely overthrowing tyranny, you’d have to allow ole Jebus to store medium-range nuclear warheads out on that thar farm o’ his.
But no. Governments regularly prevent us from keeping dangerous things for the common good. Most people are happy with that, and in a democracy, their opinion ought to count. Sure, it might be taken a little too far in some instances, such as the ban on fireworks in NSW. But does anyone genuinely think that the overwhelming good of not having schoolkids gunned down in their classrooms doesn’t outweigh the right of free people to build up medium-sized arsenals in their closets?
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Yes, they do. Almost invariably with guns. Hey, if this argument worked, why don’t the Republicans just give Iran and North Korea nuclear weapons? Because it’s not the poor little innocent weapons themselves that are the problem, it’s criminals who abuse them, isn’t it? And sure, we only know that retrospectively. But it’s worth it for our freedoms.
Look, we’re just borderline psychos whose gun fetishes compensate for our general feelings of inadequacy, ok?
Alright, I’m convinced.
But if it’s not guns that are the problem, let’s look at the other common link here: schools. If American kids never attended school, there would be no way that they could possibly die in a school shooting, is there? Guns are the innocent, circumstantial victim in all this. The real villain is an educational system that brings children together in a convenient place where bad people can hurt them. Children should be home-schooled, and taught how to shoot and really, that’s about it.
Ultimately, America is deeply, deeply ill. A culture of gun violence is deeply ingrained in the American psyche that extreme measures are necessary to cure it, but they’ll never be taken. Today’s tragedy shows that even the reclusive Amish, who do their level best to pretend it’s the seventeeth century, can’t escape it.