Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston has offered a defence of Piers Morgan’s comments on US gun laws.
As a rule guests shouldn’t overstay their welcome, rearrange the furniture or criticise your family.
When Piers Morgan called Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America “stupid” he went even further, he insulted his entire host nation. No wonder tens of thousands of Americans have decided that he has overstayed his welcome. Only family can criticise or try to rearrange the Second Amendment.
Forget the ‘special relationship’; the trouble is that we really do feel like the Americans are family. It’s not just that Main Street USA beams into our living rooms every evening; many of us have deeper links. One of my closest friends is American and her children have grown up with dual nationality in Britain. My nieces are US citizens having been brought up in the States.
Our shared history and language disguise our differences until yet another mass murder of school children sends ripples of horror across the pond.
When I hear my nieces talk about the lockdowns in their high schools and colleges I find it hard to believe that these are a normal part of their lives. They would be unthinkable for my own children and for that I am profoundly grateful.
Piers Morgan’s intervention may feel unwelcome for many Americans, but he should be the one sticking to his guns. Mass shootings are as predictable as they are contagious. As an inexplicable expression of narcissism, self-loathing and alienation, the violence will not go away.
The National Rifle Association may demand armed guards in every school but the evidence suggests that the best way to stop a ‘bad guy with a gun’ is to prevent him getting his finger on the trigger in the first place.
American politicians need only to look across the Atlantic to see how to protect their children from the carnage.
Before entering politics I worked for 24 years as a doctor in both rural and urban settings including spells in an inner city emergency department and intensive care. I also spent time as a police forensic medical examiner.
In all that time I never saw a gunshot injury or fatality. The fact is that you are vanishingly unlikely to be a victim of gun crime in the UK for the simple reason that so few people own a gun. No one outside the military would be able to handle the kind of weapon used in the Newtown massacre.
US friends warn me that only the good guys would hand in their weapons and ask what would happen after that? But gun control could be phased. Surely it would be possible to start by banning gun ownership for anyone with a criminal record before phasing in more general restrictions? In the UK an opinion on fitness to possess a firearm is a prerequisite for a gun licence alongside rigorous controls on safe storage. It is a heavy responsibility to certify that a person could never be a risk to themselves or others.
There were 8,583 firearms murders in the USA in 2011, the equivalent of almost three Ground Zeros. It may take time, but for America the war on terror should begin at home by crushing their assault rifles not anyone, at home or abroad, expressing the voice of reason.
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