Jack gets to write on a Friday for a change –
Being a fairly laid back and ‘see the other’s point of view’ kind of guy, I tried very hard not to start anything on Facebook after the latest school shooting. But I was so utterly devastated by the stupid absurdity of the act itself, followed by the inevitable and immediate split between pro and anti-gun voices, that I felt it necessary to take a step back and try to give my point of view.
I really want to understand US gun attitudes across the spectrum but I may have to ‘unfriend’ an awful lot of people that I never thought I would. I can’t understand why folk can’t see what’s staring them in the face, but – hey – I’ve only been a Citizen for eight years and it’s not like you have to pass a test to prove you understand the constitution – – -like I did to become a Citizen.
I’m usually extremely careful about the things I post online, because I do have friends across the whole political continuum. But yesterday’s events just shook me to the core. To be clear, I’m a Quaker, a member of The Religious Society of Friends. I’m a member by convincement and not by birth and have been for 14 years. I am completely opposed to violence and armaments of any kind. I do not own a gun and never will! I can just, but only just, understand the need for a gun to perhaps hunt for food, although I’m close to vegetarian. (Curse my inability to withstand the temptations of bacon.)
All of the above is simply to make folk aware of where I stand. I’m not perfect by any means and certainly not by comparison with others of many faiths and none. But on guns I am very clear where I stand.
Those three paragraphs above are modified from Facebook posts I made yesterday. What happened after I posted them surprised me. Two longstanding friends went to great lengths to defend the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. One took a constitutional and historical point of view (for which I have some, but limited, sympathy) and the other did the usual “vehicles and knives kill people but you don’t ban them” polemic. What disappointed me about both these responses was that both seemed to think the answer was to increase the number of guns in circulation.
Scotland had its own school shooting in the 1990s: Dunblane primary school, with 16 small children and their teacher killed. That resulted in an almost complete ban on handguns with equally almost complete support from the population, and there have been no school shootings since. Do you understand that? None. I find it incomprehensible that the United States government did not take similar action.
A friend of ours, a journalist we respect, who studies social trends, says that when the Sandy Hook school shooting took place, it was the tipping point. Once children could be killed by gun violence without laws passed in response, the numbing effect of this would permeate and prevent future advocacy.
I think she was right. I wish she hadn’t been.