I am reliably informed that the Charleston Church massacre in the United States is the fourteenth such incident to occur during this current Administration, and the Administration’s reaction to this is exactly the same as it was to the previous thirteen: shock horror, a lot of hand wringing, sorrow at the needless loss of life, and a promise to review and amend the legislation which gives every adult American the right to keep and bear arms.
Those of us with a liberal-minded inclination living this side of the pond find it incomprehensible that this law can be defended as necessary and desirable in a modern democracy, as it fails both tests. Of course if the criminally insane are determined to kill with impunity, they will find ways to do so, but by restricting the sale and ownership of guns it should at least make it more difficult.
The right to keep and bear arms goes back no doubt to the days of the early settlers when they were helping themselves to land owned by ‘them pesky redskin savages’, now renamed Native Americans, which I am sure comes as a great comfort to them after many years of abuse. The saying that the only good redskin was a dead redskin did the rounds until comparatively recently, and they had to be exterminated so decent white folk could live in peace. This myth was perpetuated by the advent of the Western, with John Wayne leading the charge, closely followed by Gary Cooper, James Stewart, Robert Preston, the Lone Ranger, Jay Silverheels, hang on a minute, how did he get in there? Then there was my all-time favourite Roy Rogers, not forgetting Gene Autrey, and Hopalong Cassidy. How the memories come flooding back as they gave the redskins a damn good spanking. At the risk of appearing controversial, the redskins have to shoulder some of the blame for their sad demise. In those early days of colonisation, when the pioneers were trekking west, the redskins would descend upon them like the proverbial Assyrian, but they would start ahooping and ahollering at least a mile away, more than sufficient time for the pioneers to form their wagons in a circle and take defensive action.
Times have changed since the early settlers were land grabbing, or at least I hope so. The Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, relied upon by every Redneck and Rambo to justify the keeping and bearing of arms regardless of the circumstances and regardless of the needless waste of life, was enacted on the back of the War of Independence, and the fear, real or imagined, that the infant Republic needed to be defended. As I read the Amendment, it is directed at the collective and not the individual, hence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The sad reality is that nothing of consequence will be done to avoid the fifteenth massacre, and many more besides. There is the emotional issue of the backwoodsman mentality, but more important still, the enormous vested interests of the gun lobby. With a presidential election looming, no candidate will have the courage to face the gun toters down, it’s electoral suicide.
There are bigger fish to fry, and it’s hardly a life or death issue. Or is it? Time to bring on Clint Eastwood, the all-American hero. President Eastwood has a certain ring to it.