What will it take for America to change its gun laws?
I've said this for quite some time but seriously... ban the bloody things! Ammendments can be ammended right? Ammendment 21 cancels out Ammendment 18 on the prohibition of alcohol right? Surely the events in Virginia this week just proove how easy it is to just run amock with a gun and shoot 32 people! Ok, I'm not American, I've never been to America but seriously something has to change. I'm not the biggest fan of my own country, but guns have been effectively banned here since the 90s and the Dunblane incident (the Scottish equivalent of Columbine or Virginia Tech) although they aren't completely banned (an old neighbour of mine, completely crazy old fella, used to have a gun with which he would quite legally shoot crows.)
A lot of this has a lot to do with culture, and culture can't simply change overnight. There is a gradual memetic mutation. One thing that has perhaps slowed down this change, I would argue is the article in the Bill of Rights permitting the right to bear firearms, obviously written in a time of great uncertainty in the 18th century when America was still a frontier of the known world, the edge of the known world (to Europeans anyway). Fierce patriotism can keep such fallacies going; look the founding fathers thought it was ok, so it must be our God-given right (pity they don't realise the founding fathers generally weren't Christian and kept slaves either but that simply shows how unthinkiing such people are). You'd think in the wake of such disasters as Columbine and Virginia Tech and the various other massacres that have taken place, values might gradually change and the gun laws might over time become tighter.
With Britain there is a difference, we have no real constitution and have gradually evolved a democratic system over centuries, we had civil wars and revolutions and I'm sure guns and weapons were a common problem in those times, but memetic evolution has taken its course and our values have changed. We've had times of great uncertainty even in the 20th century, the Blitz, Economic busts leading to civil unrest in the 70s and 80s, but a gun culture hasn't developed out of it. That is not to say there isn't a gun culture in this country, just 5 minutes walk down the road from my parents house (where I am now) is one of the worst areas in the country for gun crime, never mind in Manchester. There are several shootings each year (only say 8-10 shootings per year is a significant percentage of the national statistic per year). This is however isolated to gang culture of which there is a lot around that area, and the average life expectancy for people who get into that gang culture is 24. Then there is of course Northern Ireland where there has been a state of sectarian-based civil war for centuries and gun-crime is extremely high.
The fact that the vast majority of the population of this country hates guns and that it is illegal even to bear a firearm (without a liscense for shooting game) severely limits the possibility for Columbine and Virginia Tech type incidents, the only one I know of in my lifetime was Dunblane, and that was before the laws were tightened. The scary thought is that the Virginia Tech shooter was able to acquire a firearm easily and legally. I really think America needs a stronger anti-gun lobby to combat the NRA. I'm sure there are a very large number of the population opposed to guns, they really need to unite.