Artful Codger - No room for complacency
Just how many more young people have to die before the citizens of the United States of America get the message that their gun control laws are hopelessly out-dated in the 21st century?
The horrific slaughter of twenty primary school children and seven adults by a crazed gunman at a Connecticut School almost defies belief, but comes as no surprise in the wake of similar attacks at high schools in the USA in recent years.
The weapon which appears to have done most of the damage seems to be a military-style assault rifle, and it begs the questions:
n Why should any ordinary member of the public want or need a military-style assault gun?
n What kind of country could possibly let such hideous weapons go on open sale to any Tom, Dick or Harry, with no regard for the potential consequences?
The United States has often been referred to as a “Young Country,” so perhaps it is time for it to grow up and take its responsibilities to all its citizens seriously, rather than pandering to the whims of the American gun lobby.
Admittedly, the US government have a real job on their hands on this issue, given the enormous number of Americans fiercely devoted to toting their beloved guns and passing on the tradition to their children.
But this time the issue may have just reached a tipping point. There has not been the usual chorus of dissent from the gun crowd and there is a feeling that President Obama, who wept openly on TV over the Connecticut carnage, will now start to move towards legislation to address the problem.
After all, an assault rifle is hardly the kind of weapon that the hunting and shooting brigade in the states would use to bring down duck or deer.
Not that we should be complacent in Britain. Our gun laws, particularly with regard to possession of hand guns, were tightened up following the Dunblane school massacre by Thomas Hamilton in 1997.
But there are still plenty of sporting guns in the hands of private people in this country, and even though these guns are meant to be kept in secure storage, there is always the risk that some wrong-doer might break in, force a way into the securing case and steal the weapons.
It’s a sensitive issue in a county such as Norfolk, where many jobs are dependent on the rearing of game birds for sporting shoots.
In fact, I do wonder what happened to many of the shotguns owned by farmers and agricultural workers in the Fens and Norfolk in the 1950s. This was a time when a far larger proportion of the population worked on the land, and it was quite common for working men to have a gun to shoot game “for the pot” – a handy supplement to the family larder when wages were low and meat still on ration in the decade following World War Two.
While there may have been gun amnesties from time to time, when shotguns were handed in to the police, I would not be surprised if a lot of those guns passed from generation to generation and are still around somewhere and even considered family heirlooms – albeit somewhat deadly ones.
A reminder, surely, that we need to remain ever vigilant to this potentially dangerous problem.
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Weather for King's Lynn
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North east