So your son has a birthday coming up; you know he hates black people, so what better present to give him than a gun with which he can go out to a celebrated church with a devout congregation, and shoot as many of them as he conveniently can. Everyone happy? Well, not perhaps everyone.
The thing is that the father lives in a country where it is as easy to buy a gun as it is to buy a plate of Kentucky fried chicken (maybe easier, in some districts). And the main problem is that so few people think there is anything mistaken or irrational about the situation, and that a minority body which favours it is so efficiently organised and so rich and influential that candidates for political office are convinced (perhaps rightly) that they stand little chance of being elected if they oppose it – and that after election so many continue at the very least to be uncritical of it for fear of losing their seats.
Personally, I have never in all my eighty-plus years held a gun in my hand, wanted to do so, or known where or how to buy one, and have been perfectly happy with that situation. Madmen fixated on one overwhelming conviction are always going to find a way of getting a gun and using it, even in the best-regulated countries. If the most recent deranged individual had not been given his birthday present, he would have had no difficulty in getting hold of a gun by some other means.Well administered gun laws of course cannot prevent all gun crime; but statistics make it perfectly clear than they can diminish the chances of multiple killings. The problem is the ease with which this is possible in the US, and the difficulty with which decent folk are faced when they want to change the situation.
It will be interesting to see what effect the most recent tragedy has on the American public – whether for instance Hilary Clinton’s impassioned plea for gun control will have any greater effect than those of poor President Obama, whose almost every move to improve life for his citizens has been so effectively demolished by Congress. My guess is that the gun-lovers of the NRA – so clearly in a minority, so good at getting their own way - will again prove that there are some situations in which democracy will always lose out.