18 February 2018

Today as I write and you read this, nearly 80 people in the US will die from a gunshot.

My earliest memories of gun crime in America came from the song Don’t Like Mondays by the BoomTown Rats. It has the most amazing piano intro and I fell in love with the tune long before I knew what inspired Geldof to write it. The song reached Number 1 in the UK but was banned in San Diego after Geldof explained that the song was about a tragedy where a 16-year-old American, Brenda Ann Spencer, killed 2 people in a school playground and injured numerous children at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in California. This was back in January 1979, when I was 10.

I can’t help thinking that America would be a much safer and greater place right now if the shock of this horrific incident had inspired the US government to ban weapons back in the 70s.

Stats don’t lie and when you see the number of gun-related deaths in the US it is a terrifying prospect.

The story shocked the world.

Trump and previous politicians can talk about their ‘War on Terror’, but in reality are these distractions? How many Americans have died from terrorist attacks? It’s certainly significantly less than those who have died at the hands of fellow Americans armed with weapons they bought from trusting arms dealers in their local communities.

Trump and the gun lobbyists will tell you that it’s not the weapons but the people using them causing the problem. Consider this: A great friend James Timpson explained something interesting to me. He is well qualified to talk about crime. He works tirelessly with prisons to help train offenders and is well known for his commitment providing jobs for them when they leave prison.

I asked him why are there so many more men in prison for violent crimes than women.

James explained that a great many crimes are spur of the moment and involve people overreacting without thinking. He explained the reason there are more men committing them is due to testosterone. A hormone found in significantly higher quantities in men than women.

As a man I can associate with this; there are many things especially in my early years I wish I’d stopped and considered before reacting.

If this is the case, and it makes sense, imagine if in a moment of anger someone is able to reach for an automatic weapon. Are they more likely to cause more destruction than if they are able to pick up a knife or just use their bare hands?

The Second Amendment

If you still want to argue the point, maybe my theory is wrong, however the facts speak loud and clear.  Whatever the driving force, America has a big problem. Donald Trump described a recent murderer as sick and blamed the mass murder on him being mentally ill. Surely there should be restrictions for people who are unwell too?

"Shannon

Trump believes that because of a 200-year-old constitution in which it was written that it is the right of every US citizen to arm themselves, that this should remain. 200 years ago we stopped selling people as slaves after 300 years of a unilaterally accepted law.

In spite of the world and America changing dramatically in the last 200 years, and thousands of other laws across the globe being amended to reflect changes in society, this is one law that seems to be written in stone.

The Florida attack this week was the ninth biggest gun atrocity in American history, which means three of the country’s worst ever mass shootings have now happened since Trump came in to power.

Piers Morgan love him or hate him, is being very vocal now against the president in a recent article in the Daily Mail.

“Yet one of the only things you’ve done about guns as President was to roll back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illness to get guns.”

Trump’s answer to Piers Morgan when he interviewed the president was a simple rebuttal, “I’m a Second Amendment person.”

And that is that.

Is it all down to money?

Yet if you dig a little deeper, in fact you don’t have to dig very hard!

Shannon Watts Founder of , working to end gun violence puts it very succinctly. Is the real reason president Trump ignores the pleas to change the laws and restrict guns in the US because he was paid $30m for his campaign that helped him rise to power?

You couldn’t make this stuff up. In any other country this would be considered a bribe or at best corrupt, yet the NRA remains untouchable.

280 school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012

In spite of over 280 school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012 the NRA’s answer to this recent mass slaughter is the suggestion from its board member Charles Cotton, MORE GUNS!

The gun lobbyist is working to get trained volunteers in schools armed! That is the solution. I am beginning to think the mental health issues are not limited to those shooting the innocent children in America.

Help Shannon Watts and the thousands of people affected fight Gun Crime

I am with Shannon unequivocally. It surely has to be a bigger human right for a mum or  dad to drop their kids at school in the US and know they are safe. Surely a child has the to be safe and for them to be kept out of harms way?

A young lady from the school in Florida, Emma Gonzalez who publicly berated the president at a rally in Fort Lauderdale for accepting money from the NSA, clearly shows the sentiment from the next generation of voters.

 

Shannon Watts, Emma Gonzalez and all the other campaigners, you are not alone.  The mums, dads, brothers, sisters, friends and family and everyone connected to the victims of this atrocious attack, none of you are alone.

It’s time for politicians to take notice

There are millions of people in the world who believe in you and your cause. You and your friends have momentum here and you must not let up. Real change takes sacrifice and you have the real firepower at your fingertips when you unite collectively.    Do not give up on your quest.

Whilst Trump appears spineless and immovable on this issue, there will be a president one day who has the courage not to accept the NRA’s blood money.  I was a fan of Obama but the Senate limited his remit and even he didn’t address the point.

In the UK the attack on Dunblane Primary School in Scotland in 1996 saw a gunman kill 16 children and one teacher before killing himself. There was huge public debate about gun control laws and a call for a ban of handguns. The government passed two new Firearms Acts shortly after which greatly restricted private ownership of firearms in the UK. The result: Dunblane remains the deadliest mass shooting in British history and we haven’t had another like it since. 

How many must die before a president or someone in power has the courage to make a change?

As I watch my kids playing here in the sunshine on our holiday with their grandparents, knowing how blessed Gail and I are for having such a wonderful little family. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of the families who have lost their precious loved-ones this week. My heart goes out to each and every one of them.

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