Another day, another morning scrolling through my Facebook feed, filled with news of yet another mass shooting in America. I feel like this happens at least once a week. And people are sad. And people are angry. And people are dead. But I can’t quite bring myself to share in the collective grief – I don’t feel sad or angry, really, but more like… just… annoyed. I am fucking annoyed and irritated and exasperated by the fact that I have to keep reading this same news story again and again. That people will express sadness and outrage and disbelief and then nothing will happen, things will go on as they were and then it will happen again and the cycle begins anew. I am fucking annoyed that this happens and people go, ‘Well he was autistic,’ or ‘He was crazy,’ or ‘He was just really depressed,’ or ‘He was a racist asshole,’ and shrug their shoulders and point to the Second Amendment and say ‘What can you do? It’s not like we can take peoples’ guns away! That would be tyranny!’
I am fucking annoyed that the ‘tyranny’ of better gun controls trumps the tyranny of fearing your children may be shot dead whilst trying to go to school.
And I’m really fucking annoyed that this has become so commonplace that I can’t even make myself feel sad about it anymore, that I know it will happen again and again and still nothing will change.
I live in a country that freaks out about knives. The possibility of someone having a knife (!!) is perhaps second only to the possibility of someone having a bomb (yes, I’m exaggerating) in terms of Things That Make People Shit Themselves, and even after ten years living in the UK I can’t help but laugh to myself at how quaint that sounds to me. Knives! But I also feel infinitely safer here than I think I ever could if I were still living in America. When I go back to visit, the sight of police officers carrying guns actually shocks me, and I suddenly remember that pretty much anyone I pass on the street could be carrying a gun (or, you know, just flagrantly displaying them at Chipotle or wherever, because SECOND AMENDMENT MOTHERFUCKERS!).
In 1996, a man walked into a school in Dunblane, Scotland and shot 17 children (the oldest was 6) and a teacher dead before shooting himself. The four handguns he carried were, at the time, legal. A year later handguns would be completely banned in the UK.*
In 2012, a teenage boy walked into Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut and shot 26 children and staff dead. Four months later an Assault Weapons Ban and an amendment to expand background checks on gun purchases were defeated in the US Senate.
There is a serious problem in America which obviously requires some kind of sensible reform and regulation (‘well-regulated militia’, yeah?). How many more people have to die before we finally realise that? I am fucking annoyed at our capacity for being so obtuse.
*Edited to add: I don’t mean to suggest that American gun laws should be as extreme as the ones in the UK. I know that would never happen (26 dead children at Sandy Hook and we can’t even pass a background check amendment, for fuck’s sake), and I don’t even necessarily agree that an outright ban is the answer. The solution lies somewhere in between the two poles. Or as my very clever friend Jen said earlier today, ‘The solution is as multi-layered as the problem.’