Thursday, January 3, 2013
The US and guns
Last week the Irish Times sent a reporter to a Texas gun range and then ran an opinion piece headlined 'Experiencing Gun Culture first hand at the shooting range.' Illuminating. Would they title a piece 'An in-depth report on the American fast-food industry' based on the purchase and consumption of a burger in a Chicago diner?
For what it's worth, I sincerely doubt most Europeans are ever going to 'get' what they call US gun culture (I served 8 years active duty in the US military and I would hesitate to claim insight). Is 'gun culture' even the right term? For Americans it is 'the right to bear arms.' Or exercising their second amendment rights.
The last bit is key: in the US it really is a right. The courts have confirmed it. Anathema though it is to the liberals of the Western world, gun control is a long way off in America. Because it would require either a constitutional amendment or a major reversal of legal interpretation. And neither is realistically going to happen. Americans have already voted with their wallets on this one - there's more guns in the US than people, a lot more. And sales show no signs of slowing down. And as far as as legal interpretation goes, the case law is too well settled. Even the most liberal Supreme Court bench imaginable isn't going to find the ammunition in the penumbra of the Constitution to shoot the second amendment down.
In any event, there's a lot more to the problem of events like Sandy Hook than access to guns. Michael Moore, liberal par excellence, nailed that one in Bowling for Columbine when he pointed out that Canada, with a similar history to the US, and similar access to firearms, has nothing like the same level of gun violence.
That doesn't mean the problem is insoluble. It just means that it is going to take more than a knee-jerk reaction in the wake of every tragedy to ban all guns. Personally, I'd be happy enough if they did, but I know that's not going to happen. This is a uniquely American problem and it is going to take a uniquely American solution. If you have any ideas, I'd be happy to hear them. In the meanwhile, please pray ... pray especially for all those contemplating being the next Sandy Hook perpetrator that they will resist the temptation to enter into that evil.