Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun Law - Better to Shoot with Words


I don't often use my blog to tell stories. I hope one day my gun mad six year old son reads this. 
At the moment he is with the Arizona gun lobby who wish to arm teachers discretely and at a discount so they can fight back when their schools are attacked.
Ideally, he would like the six year olds to have guns too.

In around 1990 I spent my first holiday in Washington DC.  I had a great trip but while I was there two 14 year old boys shot each other in a school changing room. It was all over the local media but such a frequent occurrence it was not picked up by the national media. It was a school in a poor predominantly black area where gun crime and gang fighting was endemic, apparently. The media focus was on the school janitors and their lax use of the school metal detectors which had allowed the two boys to bring hand guns into the school. The school district and the janitors looked like they were going to be sued for negligence.

All this was very alien to me. .and I'd been teaching for five years in Glasgow.

It happened that evening I was meeting some distant relatives who were the offspring of my grandfather's wee sister who moved over to the states from Ibrox at the end of WW1. They were a really nice, socially aware, academic couple, proud of their Scottish heritage, who had done well and were running impressive chunks of the Smithsonian. In lots of ways they seemed the same as me, further on in their careers but battling away in that middling educational way to make the world a better place.

Half way through a highly enjoyable meal I asked why no-one in the media had really queried why it was illegal but easy for fourteen year olds to access firearms.

Politely, the gulf in our two cultures suddenly opened up.

Guns were important for protection. I came from a more peaceful part of the world and did not appreciate this. I struggled when I was told that they had a lot of guns and the  licences for them. Indeed, as we sat in the smart diner on the Potomac I was told that they had a piece in her pocket book to deter muggers and at home in a posh suburb of Washington they had among their arsenal an assault rifle which was needed, as it could shoot through the engine block of a truck. The assault rifle was protection against domestic ram raiding which had recently reached epidemic proportions.

The conversation moved on. 
As I moved unarmed back to my digs in Georgetown along the streets that seemed a bit meaner I thought these really nice folk were under siege . The ready availability of guns which they prized as a symbol of their freedom did not seem to give them or their children the liberty they sought.

I hope following this weekend's events it gets harder to access firearms in the USA and no more six year olds need to die.

1 comment:

Christopher R. Britt said...

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