Monday, December 24, 2012

Dark Christmas

This Christmas Eve post had been planned to be about time with family and good times and children's nativity plays finding new ways to tell the old, old story that is new and fresh to these innocents, but following the massacre of the innocents last week the haunting faces of the children who were to have been sheep and cows and shepherds and angels make it impossible. WB Yeats's ‘The Second Coming’: 'And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?' – seems more appropriate.

When the similar massacre in the peaceful little Scottish town of Dunblane took place – Andy Murray was one child who escaped – I was living in another school twenty miles away so I know the shook and grief Americans are experiencing. These tragedies can happen, gun laws or no gun laws. It's just when there are no guns around, it's once in a blue moon, not regularly.

I've never actually seen a gun, apart from a shotgun, and I don't think I've even touched one of those.  The death figures in America are staggering, and while I can understand the gunman as hero tradition and the pioneer spirit of having to look after yourself,  I can't understand how anyone sane can support the idea of a civilian needing a semi-automatic weapon.

I suppose we all draw our lines in different places. Once when I was in America I went to a drugstore to try to buy a butane refill for my hair tongs – these are available over here, and I've never heard of anyone with a problem.  I got a lecture from the man behind the counter about how of course he wouldn't be allowed to sell any such thing and a lecture on Britain's laxity when it came to safety regulations, going on to highlight the fact that we can buy paracetamol with codeine over the counter.  Only my British reserve and politeness stopped me mentioning the word 'guns' but I was sorely tempted.

The Newton tragedy has had exhaustive coverage in our newspapers and TV, but like Rick I haven't heard it discussed very much.  I would attribute different reasons, though: it is so awful that we can't bear to talk about it.  There are no words.

I pray is that America will heed the example of Australia, which also had several massacres until they outlawed semi-automatic weapons about ten years ago and since then – none.  May 2013 be a year of peace for us all.


j welling said...

I have to hope you are right. I hope guns are outlawed in America. When sheep are armed, it is dangerous for everyone not just the wolves.

Guns are effective at allowing one weak person to exercise terminal will over another without any of effort necessary in earning that ability. It's too bloody easy on both sides of the trigger.

I would assert that the argument for guns as a protection of the tyranny of a government is poor. Having a third of your national population engage in a refusal to cooperate with lawful authority is enough to cause any government to fall.

All revolution takes is the will to be shot for your beliefs. It doesn't require you shooting anyone yourself.

Brave sheep can be just as effective at revolution as wolves. It just takes an awfully lot of effort to make brave sheep.

Let's not arm sheep. Let's leave violence to professionals.

Let's leave homicide within the realm of family and friends where we know they'll be some casus belli we can understand.

We're going to keep on killing each other as long as we have rocks and clubs. Let's make indiscriminate murder more difficult.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Aline--yesterday at Christmas dinner, we finally moved to discussions about guns. It was an odd painful subject. I can't understand why America has gotten itself into such a state.