It is pointless to say that the school shootings in America are the most devastating horror and tragedy and so many grieve with Americans. But perhaps it is important to say that the issue is not just about guns, it is about America’s relationship to childhood, and why that, in the minds of the disturbed, who cannot grow, turns again and again on the situation of the school.

But as Obama said, with such dignity and so movingly, the gun issue must be addressed, if it can be. America has tried, again and again, but of course there is that ‘freedom’ in the Constitution, about militias and the right to bear arms. Change the Constitution. Many believe, for Americans shouting their own freedom, it is one of the most violent and frightening societies on earth. 1 in 4 Americans spend time in prison, more than any nation in the entire history of the planet. As the writer Lionel Shriver said on Newsnight tonight, Americans do not feel free, what freedom is there when fear is present (?), and plenty’s experience is of fear and lost people, so often, in the face of such an enormous country, so consequently the gun itself is an enormous symbol of power and supposed freedom.

Then of course there is the gun lobby. So perhaps a quote. “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” It sounds right up to the minute, and was quoted by the journalist being beaten up on the drama The Hour, the other night, but of course, it was Abraham Lincoln, 1864.


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