Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Guns don't kill people, they just make it (too) easy

33 dead at Virginia Tech. The 19th killing spree at a US educational establishment in 19 years.Gun control in the US is back on the agenda.

I used to find something appealing about the notion of the right to bear arms. Like many aspects of the US constitution it implies a nation formed by the consent of free individuals. But this is not 1776 and we are not talking about a government of free-thinking frontier settlers but a complex modern society with all the issues that go with it.

As Michael More showed in 'Bowling For Columbine', it isn't just about access to the guns; look at Canada and Switzerland. But access to guns doesn't half help. And so does a deeply fucked up society in a continual state of paranoia. Paranoia of islamo-terrorists or of the dark skinned youths that live in the projects.

Guns of themselves don't kill people, but there is something peculiar about how they make killing possible. The Greeks despised the Persians because they fought with bows and arrows rather than hand-to-hand. They felt that this was unmanly as it required no courage to kill a an enemy who you ran no risk from yourself. Similarly, it's just too easy to kill someone with a device that can magically transform the bullied class nerd looking for payback into a killing machine.

Guns don't of themselves kill people, but they do provide one hell of a fatal outlet for otherwise suppressed anger.

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