In one of the more alarming stories of the day I read that, since the mass shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut school, sales of small arms in the United States have gone up to record levels. I hope it isn't true; I fear it might be.
You can sort of see what people think. 'If only someone nearby had had a gun that guy would never have been able to commit such an atrocity. He'd have been taken out. Arm teachers.' Sounds true.
In the United Kingdom in 2011 there were 14 shotgun fatalities out of a population of 60 million or so. We came 39th in the league (not a good league).
The United States had 9369 cases out of 300 million people and came fourth. In case you wondered, South Africa was the worst, followed by Columbia and Thailand.
The United States has an enshrined constitutional right for its citizens to bear arms. So many people bear arms that you can see why they might find it hard to see the country becoming safer by their giving up their weapons. Legislation is the only thing that would make it unilateral and yet it is often said that the political will is not there. What level of atrocity might achieve that do you wonder?
I have no idea how, post-Dunblane, the UK got the hand-gun banning legislation through so quickly but it has had a dramatic effect. If our percentage was mirrored in the States their victim numbers would fall from 9369 to just 70.
By banning hand guns and making it almost impossibly difficult, and socially unacceptable, to own a weapon, Japan has virtually eliminated gun crime. Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the Newtown massacre, took his mother's guns. She had three, apparently. She was the first person he shot.
We must say, 'If only the guy had not had a gun he would never have been able to commit such an atrocity.' I rarely say this, but end of.