I had an exchange recently with a friend from US who had lamented President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers to control, as Trump sees it, the deaths of children killed in schools. She pointed out that teachers would leave their jobs if required to be armed. (I won’t discuss here the twisted logic of such an arm-teachers scheme: it is surely only comprehensible by a few of the more twisted of US intellects?)
Trump’s response was surely not that of a mature person? No one should have a gun, save for very good reason, in the first place. Guns should be banned; or at least their use should be heavily regulated (as they are in most countries which regard themselves as civilised).
My friend replied that US people would not accept that: ‘That’s never going to fly in the US. It’s in our Constitution. The key here will be which arms we have the right to bear; and under what conditions?’
So why not change the ‘constitution’ and teach US people that killing is wrong? ‘The means of killing should be taken away from people’ I suggested. Ah, ‘easier said than done, said my friend’. And yet, in 1865 the constitution was changed to deal with slavery….
This is all so basic. People in civilised countries stopped carrying swords and daggers more than two centuries ago; and yet in US most people – I believe – are entitled to carry guns. (I even find it odd that in eg France police and customs officers carry guns: that would never be allowed in England.) Guns provide a means far more lethal than swords to kill each other. You can kill at much further away with a fire-arm than with a dagger.
US claims to lead the free world; yet US people carry guns around to kill each other with in a way which to most of us is truly primitive. It gets worse. Success for some US persons – such as their President – is judged by how much money you can amass. Materialism is everything. Greed defines you. Yet it is said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven. In other societies art, music and intellectual achievement are measures of success, for many. US people, relative to their number, have a modest number of artists, composers, intellectuals, scientists and law reformers. The state of its religion is about where European societies were in the mid-1800s.
Compared to many other modern societies, US is a primitive country to be sure: governed by materialism and regulated by private gun-laws. And to ban or regulate guns is ‘Easier said than done’ said my friend. That was probably what many people said in (say) 1800 of slavery. In England slavery was said not to exist at common law (Somersett’s case) in 1775. Trade in slaves was abolished in 1807 and it was formally banned throughout the colonies in 1833. In US it was banned in 1865, though segregationist tendencies subsisted – still subsist, under Trump? – for a long time.
If the US can ban slavery in 1865, why can it not ban guns now; or at least severely regulate their use (as is the case with the rest of us)?