The tragedy at Virginia Tech shocked and saddened the community in the state and far beyond, and once again raised issues about America's relaxed gun laws. George Bush went on air to say that when the sanctity of schools was violated, "the impact is felt in every American classroom and community".
But earlier in the day his spokeswoman in Washington was forced to justify his opposition to tightening the rules on handgun ownership. She said the president believed in the right to bear arms, but equally that "all laws must be followed ... Walking into a school hall and shooting people is clearly against the law".
So, what's the Bush administration's response to the apparent paradox that, on the one hand, guns are good, and on the other hand, using guns is bad? Simple: a reminder that 'all laws must be followed', plus a clarification on the legal status of mass murder, for all those who haven't studied the ins and outs of it: 'Walking into a school and shooting people is clearly against the law'.
Now that's been cleared up, let's hope all psychopaths with government sanctioned access to machines designed to cleave flesh from flesh will think twice before going out and commiting such clearly illegal acts. But just to make absolutely sure, here's a radical suggestion for how to prevent this kind of thing happening again. Henceforth guns should come with a 'clear' reminder on the box about responsible and irresponsible use, such as:
CONTENTS: ONE GUN
RESPONSIBLE USE OF YOUR GUN
GUN MAY BE USED FOR: SEARCHING FOR COINS DOWN SOFA, PICKING PARTICULARLY OBSTINATE BOGIES, WHISKING EGGS, POINTING
WARNING: DO NOT USE GUN FOR, LIKE, SHOOTING
If anything this is a reminder that, despite arctic weather, impending smoking ban and our royal family not only still having heads but using them, constantly, to appear in newspapers, there are still some good things about Britain. Not least the fact that if the local nutjob decides to go on a spree of violence at a nearby school, s/he has to attempt it using, say, a frying pan, or a batch of custard pies, or a really pointy stick. I don't know if this makes up for having to read Prince Charles's views on homeopathic medicine, or the Daily Mail, or chavs, or £5.50 for a pack of fags, or Chelsea FC — but it's something.
by Matt Hill