The obsession with guns of so many Americans is a deep moral sickness. The tragedy at Uvalde, Texas, last Tuesday when an 18-year-old with an automatic assault rifle killed 21 people was the 27th school shooting in the US this year – before June. The 27th! Unimaginably, five-year-old children are taught to cower in corners if attacked.
Here’s the unpalatable truth: Americans will continue to suffer such tragedies until Republicans love their children as much as their guns. Surveys show most Americans want some reform, always blocked by Republicans. After previous massacres Democrat-run states tend to tighten gun laws but Republican states loosen them, and gun sales rise. “Pro-gun” Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is again refusing to act on gun reform, has blood on his hands. Many American Christians, it seems, conflate God, guns and nation, as though they were different forms of the same thing.
How could a deranged 18-year-old legally buy military-grade automatic weapons? Yet even now, Republicans are refusing to consider introducing background checks. The gun lobby leapt into action last week, with its usual argument that guns don’t kill people, people do. But of course people without guns kill vastly fewer than people with guns. The new spin this time was that it’s a mental health issue. And mental health is indeed a huge issue, but when sufferers have access to automatic assault rifles it’s a much bigger problem. Obviously!
Gun lobbyists like to talk about the second amendment, but I’m pretty sure the framers of the US Constitution did not envisage disturbed teenagers killing 19 school children. What it’s really about, of course, is not freedom but profits. Every massacre brings millions more to the gun companies, whose income is about $20 billion a year. Meanwhile the world can only watch in bewilderment – and lament.