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If Only America Was More Like Brussels

31,347 US gun deaths a year. That’s freedom | The Times (£)

Hugo Rifkind

....It is surely indisputable by this stage that gun control would save lives. This has to be true everywhere, not just in America, and the stricter it gets the more lives would be saved....

Why does America so fear to be like us? It can’t just be the Second Amendment, regardless of what it is supposed to mean. True, the American tendency to treat their constitution as a holy text is baffling at the best of times. (Who cares what Thomas Jefferson meant in 1787? Maybe he hadn’t given people bringing semi-automatic weaponry into cinemas that much thought?) But this surely goes deeper.
Much as it might look that way, America’s debate about gun control isn’t really about being able to defend yourself (as part of a militia or otherwise) from the inevitable tyrannical government when the Muslims and/or Jews take over. It’s about freedom, and freedom of a very particular sort. It’s about the rights of the individual versus the greater good. America just doesn’t seem to do the latter...

When American politics sounds odd and alien to European ears, this is why. It is the sound of the clamour for individual liberty drowning out everything else.
On the American right even the desire to not let people do things — have abortions, marry people of the same sex — is today characterised as protecting the freedom of those who object. Right-wing America doesn’t want to give up its guns for the same reasons it didn’t want to be forced to have healthcare and doesn’t believe in global warming.
Opposition to gun control is this obsession at its purest. American liberty holds that the honest, decent gunowner should not be held responsible for the actions of a minority of criminals and lunatics.
European liberty starts by worrying about the criminals and lunatics and works backwards from there. Me, I’d rather be in Europe. But then, I am. In any political system other than the American one it’s unthinkable that popular outrage about a domestic problem that causes (let’s take that deep breath again) 31,347 horrible deaths a year could be so utterly dwarfed, every time it flares up, by popular outrage about the notion of any possible solution.
America could solve its gun problem in half a generation if it wanted to. It doesn’t want to. That’s a whole other problem it needs to solve first.

Firstly the Guardian (!) injects some facts into the gun debate here and secondly the notion that America would be nicer if only it was more metro-european and not so hung up on liberty and freedom and all that old-fashioned guff is so emetic that it has quite ruined my bacon and eggs.


" it has quite ruined my bacon and eggs"

There's a cure for that... stop reading the Guardian!

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