Orlando Doom: Yet another mass shooting in America

The news from America is sickening. Yet another gun massacre, and yet more innocent people gunned down thanks to the application of the 2nd Amendment in modern America. The statistics say everything: in 2015 there were 372 mass shootings in the US and 64 school shootings, and 13.286 people were killed by firearms. The number of gun murders per capita in America in 2012 (the most recent year for comparable statistics) was nearly 30 times that in the UK (2.9 per 100,000 compared to just 0.1).

The evidence is incontrovertible: America's liberal gun laws are a constant danger to their own population, and they are maintained by a seemingly insurmountable alliance of political cowardice, the power of NRA lobbying and the long-cherished freedom to own firearms which is held by millions of the population. Intimations made by President Obama suggest that he would love to do more to bring in gun controls - especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, but he is hobbled by Congress, who collectively either don't want to or daren't attempt to confront the issue.

Is there any way out of this fatal labyrinth of competing interests? Reading about the Orlando shootings from here in London, it puts into tragic context our tetchy arguments over "Brexit" ahead of the upcoming EU Referendum. But here's a hypothetical question: could this actually be a small part of the Americans' solution? Why leave it to the politicians at all - why not let them hold a plebiscite instead. A US public referendum on firearms would probably be won in the first instance by those in favour of retaining guns, but perhaps over time and after yet more horrific incidents like the Pulse attack, the view of the populous will change as people are forced to confront the idea that the next victim could be them or their parents or children. By the time of a second vote a generation later, the winds of public thought may just have turned against the lobby enough to set the pendulum swinging in the other direction. As we're learning in Britain right now, a referendum allows politicians to argue each side until they're blue in the face, but it removes from them ultimate control. When it comes to gun laws, this method might not work (at least in the short term) but it would force the American people to take more ownership of laws which are killing their fellow citizens in sickening numbers.

Barack Obama's eloquent and heartfelt speech after Sandy Hook:



Jon Harvey1 Comment