It has been a month of hard news in the US. Time and again the media has shown images of children running scared from school buildings or more ominously, as we saw on Monday ( BBC News – How the Amish shooting unfolded ), police vehicles and helicopters incongruous alongside a small Amish schoolhouse. With three major incidents within the past week there are many stories talking of tougher security in the nations schools, or questioning why the sudden rash of shootings has occurred ( Washington Post – Schools on guard after recent shootings, MTV – Rash of school shootings leaves violence specialists baffled, Washington Post – Feds say school shootings defy answers, ABC News – Why the spike in school shootings? ).
When even the President has said “Our schoolchildren should never fear their safety,” and ordered a conference of education and law enforcement officials next week to help prevent shootings at schools the obvious question has not been asked. Is it time for better gun controls?
In a country where one could argue that the right to bear arms is more strongly fought than the right to free speech it makes you wonder how many children, adults, people must die, in schools, in gang violence, or just in random accidents before the general consensus of the population can say “stop, enough”. In Britain that day was March 13, 1996 when a lone gunman killed 16 children and their teacher ( BBC News – On this day in history March 13, 1996 ) and the response was swift, by 1997 the Snowdrop Campaign was successful in achieving a change in the law, making it illegal to buy or possess a handgun.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe a total ban would be effective, or even feasible in the United States. I believe that the reaction in England was more a knee jerk response than a well thought out plan to identify and record gun possession, limiting access and use. However, as more families mourn the loss of their children it does make you question just how much “right to bear arms” is needed in this modern world.