A heavy price to pay for the historical quirk of the right to bear arms


AFTER a year of writing leaders and columns last week, ending just short of 42 years in Scottish daily newspaper journalism, it came to my last day and I mooted a column on US gun control.
This was turned down as not topical, in favour of a column on automated telephone canvassing which was in the news that day.
Fair enough. The Herald’s typical Triple-M reader (middle-aged, middle-class, male) is indeed more likely to experience a nuisance phone call than a madman brandishing a Glock 20SF or a Bushmaster XM15-E2s.
Still, my planned column would have seemed prescient given what happened the following day at Umpqua Community College in Oregon when yet another deranged young man shot 18 people, killing half of them before turning one of his many guns on himself.
I didn’t have a crystal ball to predict this event. You don’t need one. Gun massacres in the US are like buses here, only more regular.
I wanted to write on the issue because of the astounding revelation published in the exemplary US magazine Mother Jones that in the last 25 years more US civilians had died from gun violence than American military personnel in the nation’s entire history.
That’s right: Combining battlefield deaths in a dozen conflicts from their Revolution against the Brits to Iraq, via their Civil War, two World Wars plus Korea and Vietnam, the total was 651,031. And that’s according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Since that pinko liberal Ronnie Reagan left office in 1989 there have been fast approaching 840,000 gun deaths in the US, including accidents, suicides and murders, pushed ever upward by the accelerating wave of mass shootings.
It’s an obscene price to pay for the quirk of history that produced the right to bear arms.


One thought on “A heavy price to pay for the historical quirk of the right to bear arms

  1. You are right about the quirk of history. It is a piece of American exceptionalism that equates conservatism with opposition to gun control and a bitter fruit of the culture wars that keeps people rigidly in inflexible camps. There are perfectly sound conservative reasons to support gun control (as I wrote on my own blog https://thoughtfullydetached.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/gun-control-a-conservative-principle/ ) and these have been persuasive to most people living outside the poisoned well of US political discourse.

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