Why America’s gun woe is our problem too

JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001

JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001

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It is beyond question that America is the most powerful nation on the planet and the only super power, which explains why it has so many enemies.

It has long been fashionable to knock the United States but personally speaking I have always been a fan and whenever I have visited I have been overwhelmed by the place – from the sheer vastness of it all to the generosity of (most of them anyway) its inhabitants.

Where some people see arrogance, I would argue that you cannot knock a nation for merely recognising its place in the world order – at the very top.

Of course there is a case for the prosecution as the USA has long revelled in 
its role as the world’s 
policeman although it has been somewhat chastened by its experiences in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is this insistence on keeping everybody else in order while seemingly overlooking its own shortcomings which earns the States many of its brickbats. Of course nobody or no one country is perfect, but America’s imperfections run so deep that it is difficult to take it seriously at times.

The single biggest obstacle in the way of it ridding itself of its unfortunate image problem is its risible gun controls, a fact that is highlighted on an almost weekly basis following killings so appalling that they warrant global news coverage.

It seems with every massacre that a new milestone in barbarity is surpassed, whether it is the slaying of a classroom full of innocents to the deaths of cinemagoers or worshippers attending a prayer meeting.

Last week, America achieved a new unwanted first: its first live broadcast murders which were aired to both viewers of a local breakfast news programme and users of social media. The deaths of two local journalists as they produced an item on something as innocuous as the tourism economy in a, hitherto, anonymous corner of Virginia were shocking because it crossed a new line.

I spent much of last Wednesday evening glued to American news channels and the murders of presenter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by a disgruntled former employee of their station were, quite rightly, at the very top of every bulletin and you got a sense that the nation was shocked by the senseless nature of it all.

But America was shocked by the killing of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June and the murders of 20 children at Sandy Hook School nearly three years ago, but we are yet to see any real fundamental changes 
to the way firearms are regulated, due to intense pressure to maintain the right to bear arms.

Should we care? Absolutely, because as long as America struggles to keep its own people safe – some 30,000 deaths including suicides 
are attributed to firearms each year – then how can it preach morality to the rest of the world?

US politicians including President Obama have been queuing up to tell Britons why we should vote to stay in the European Union when a referendum is eventually held. They should get their own house in order first. If there was a single thing killing 30,000 Brits or Spaniards each year then you can guarantee a delegation would be sent from Washington to sort it out. If America wants to continue being taken seriously, then it has to get serious about gun control.