An American Import We Do Not Want

Saturday 20th June

As a boy I used to have toy guns.  Cap guns, where you bought a roll of caps that went into a cylinder and fed through to the hammer and went bang, bang, bang.  I also had a rifle with which I used to shoot the Injun chief on my rug.  This was a kit rug which Mum and Dad had hand woven themselves, it was a picture of Davy Crockett and an Injun in full head-dress.  All through my childhood I loved playing cowboys and injuns and our favourite telly was Bonanza and The Lone Ranger.  At a certain point I started to read about the terrible massacres of the red Indians by the white settlers and my views changed.  On the news were Civil Rights marches, though I don’t remember specifically Selma, where peaceful and poor blacks marched while white cops stood and watched with guns in their belts. Our bobbies still relied on a wooden truncheon and I was truly shocked when on holiday in Crete and saw Greek Polis with machine guns cocked as we descended the plane.

So my childhood love of bang-bang shooters has developed into a hatred of guns to the point that on an outward bound management course in my forties we tried clay-pigeon shooting and my hand was visibly trembling as for the first and only time in my life I held a real gun.  But in America guns are everywhere and the National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.  And nothing seems able to stop this madness.  We keep getting gun massacres where, usually white, boys go on the rampage and kill a whole lot of innocent kids – we even had our own Dunblane here.  But that prompted a tightening of already strict gun laws.  I really felt sorry for Obama as he stood helpless and once again addressed a nation in mourning – his attempt at minimal gun control stymied by Republicans.  Heaven help us if this American import ever comes over here.