The gun debate in the US is now really reaching a hiatus with legislation being accelerated following the tragic situation at Newtown where so many were killed This followed the other tragedies which seem to now occur with increasing frequency. New York state have today enacted severe gun control laws – the first state to do so since the incident.
The debates are passionately argued on both sides. The recent altercation between Piers Morgan and Alex Jones (chairman of the American gun owners Association – 300,000 members) on CNN recently demonstrated the strength of feeling of the gun lobby.
It would appear that there was an implied ‘call to arms ‘by Mr Jones should any anti-gun legislation be implemented and action. -a sort of gun owners Jihad – a war of independence waged by them as a result. In practice, quite what he meant by this is uncertain , however what is certain is that there is a strong belief almost akin to a religious dogma that the ownership of guns is a fundamental human right. This will inevitably cause conflict as the restrictions are imposed, especially when gun confiscation becomes a reality.
Whether it is a human right or not is questionable, however what is unquestionable is that it is a constitutional right defined by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution – the right to bear arms – and there lies the problem.
Most of the rest of the world look on quizzically at this belief system and the sort of responses that emanate when gun ownership is challenged are at best perceived as some sort of psychotic madness. However, until the constitution of the US is changed in this regard, there will always be difficulties in changing cultural perceptions within the country.
In most democratic countries, a constitutional change can only take place as a result of some sort of referendum and this may certainly be the only way forward if controls are to be implemented in a democratic and effective way. However, as gun culture is such a fundamental part of the US psyche, will this really be possible in practice? Certainly the correct interpretation of the constitution is needed as a minimum. Do the words ‘well armed militia’ in the existing constitution mean an ‘unregulated armed populace’, which seems now to be the case.
It will be interesting to see how reality develops over the short term, however, what is certain is that maintaining a constitution which enshrines the right to bear arms has a cost,- in blood.
But maybe the people of the US believe that this is a price worth paying? If this is the case, so be it. The world outside does not have a right to get involved, but they do have a right to be dismayed and disappointed should it take another civil massacre to bring the issue to the table again.