INDEPENDENT VOICE: JOHN BLUNT

"Most of the blame lies with a gun lobby that insists on allowing people to buy automatic weapons..."

SOME people refuse to admit their mistakes, let alone learn from them.

So as I watched the tragedy unfold of a disgruntled shooter in the USA going on a killing spree at a school I had a grim sense we’d been here before.

Most of the blame lies with a gun lobby that insists on allowing people to buy automatic weapons.

Why? Are they starting a war with their neighbours? Or taking their weapons and going off to fight for Daesh?

It seems everything is available for some nobody with a grudge to exact a terrible price from innocents. I’m just surprised nobody’s bought a rocket launcher over the counter – surely they’ll soon be coming to an outlet near you.

As the shootings at US schools and other public venues become more common (18 so far this year), it’s too easy for the gun brigade to blame not the availability of the weapon but some unhinged one-off loner.

Every society has its nutters, but we don’t have to give them indiscriminate access to war armaments because of some archaic ‘right’ to bear arms. Americans needn’t fear terror attacks; it’s their own citizens they have to watch out for.

And loners – well they seem to be on the increase – and it’s a sign of the times as we all retreat into the virtual reality world of our bedrooms that we become less connected to people and more involved in fantasy.

We can’t be vigilant about every social inadequate, but we need to try to engage with and help the disaffected within our communities.

The statistics are terrifying – no other developed nation comes close to the rate of US gun violence. Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult. And so many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country.

Lack of vigilance or sheer incompetence account for a large number of accidental shootings, and many of the victims are young: Nearly 1,500 children under 18 die from shootings every year, and one in three families with children have at least one gun in the house.

There are more than 22 million children living in homes with guns and the majority of the victims of unintentional shootings are boys.

Of course, there are no end of demonstrations of crass stupidity. Such as the man in Tennessee who shot himself (and his wife with the same bullet) while showing his gun off in church.

Or the cretin who shot himself in the belly and leg while browsing in Walmart… and he didn’t actually have a permit for the firearm he was carrying.

As for an outspoken Florida “gun rights” advocate who left a loaded .45 calibre handgun in the back seat of her car and was promptly shot and wounded by her four-year-old child, well I think we’re unanimous in thinking it served her jolly well right.

And I hope it hurt like hell…

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.