OPINION - The Standard View: Mass shootings are neither inevitable nor unavoidable

·3-min read
 (Andy Davey)
(Andy Davey)

The world woke up to yet another unspeakable act of gun violence and terror in the US. Nineteen children, aged between seven and 10, as well as two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Texas. It was the 27th US school shooting this year and the deadliest in a decade. The Gun Violence Archive calculates there have been 212 mass shootings in America so far in 2022, defined as an event in which four or more people are shot or killed.

Change is possible. Following the 1996 Dunblane massacre, in which a gunman shot dead 16 primary school children and one teacher, Britain banned handguns for most purposes. Australia similarly transformed its gun laws following the Port Arthur massacre of the same year. Both actions have undoubtedly saved countless lives.

Speaking at the White House, President Joe Biden asked “Why are we willing to live with this carnage” and pledged “It’s time to turn this pain into action”. The reality is that he lacks the support in Congress to change the law. First, he must somehow change hearts and minds.

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution states that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed”. In recent decades, this has been interpreted to mean Americans can carry virtually any weapon, with courts striking down gun restriction laws in jurisdictions where they have been passed. Meanwhile, Republican politicians — with support from the National Rifle Association — block reform at national and local levels.

Mass shootings are neither inevitable nor unavoidable. For the sake of present and future generations of Americans, we hope it will not take further tragedies for them to accept there is another way.

Partygate confusion

As the full Sue Gray report is finally published, Boris Johnson faces renewed scrutiny. So too does the Met Police. The decision to impose a single fixed penalty notice on the Prime Minister for receiving cake in the Cabinet Room, but nothing for events he attended for which more junior staff have been fined, has caused widespread confusion.

Meanwhile, questions are only growing louder as further details have come to light of a separate Downing Street lockdown party involving alcohol for the departing spokesman James Slack, which appears not to have been investigated by Scotland Yard.

The Met investigation, delayed and reluctant as it was, could have served as an opportunity to repair trust. Instead, it has left us with more questions than answers. The public deserves an explanation of the methods used which might explain how the police came to the conclusions they did.

Football finances

Chelsea may have finished the season without major silverware — depending on your view of the Fifa Club World Cup — but it does have something to cautiously celebrate: the Government has approved the takeover by Todd Boehly.

Fans can now focus on the new season, but rows over ownership and football’s finances will rage on. From state-owned “super clubs” to the leveraged buyout of teams such as relegated Burnley, questions over who owns our cultural institutions and their effect on the national game will not go away.

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