How many people will have to die before the NRA and the politicians they control do what most sane people understand has to be done? I have been asking this question for years. Will it be around thirty as appears to be the number in this most recent shooting? Or will it require the massacre of two or three hundred people, or a thousand? Given the right (or rather, wrong) circumstances and the right (wrong) weaponry, this last number is not impossible at all.
What is most tragic about this is that sensible gun legislation WILL happen, it is only a question of how many people have to die before the NRA drags itself into the modern world, and how long it takes the public to insist that politicians bullied into submission by financial pressures that should not exist in a democracy do something about it.
Incredibly, I have already heard people say that this could have been prevented if someone at the school had been armed. What kind of a country do we want to live in? One where teachers are forced to have guns in holsters under their jackets (the least that would be necessary) as they read Thomas the Tank Engine, where the principal has an automatic rifle leaning against his desk? OR a country where these insanely lethal guns are banned?
If it is the former, freedoms far more essential than those guaranteed by the Second Amendment will eventually be lost. Why stop at schools? Shouldn't every doctor or waiter or ticket seller or bus driver - anyone working in a crowded environment - be forced to carry guns? But do you really want to go to the movies and see a submachine gun leaning against the seat in front of your, or see the guy downing a bottle of wine at the next table, fumble with his pistol? The prospect is terrifying, and in the end would lead to a country living in hiding, ordering life online rather than living it.
I have never met a single person from Europe who feels their freedom is curtailed by not having access to high-powered weaponry designed to kill large numbers of people. I have never met anyone who has lived in a country where the fear of getting shot is almost non-existent who would rather live in a country where they need heavy arms to feel safe, where a civilian arms race is taking place already.
As I said before, it is only a matter of time before sane legislation arrives. As with so many conservatives policies, what is being conserved here is cruel, illogical, and anachronistic. By the time sanity overcomes ideology and the NRA and its supporters come to their senses, they will have a lot of deaths on their consciences. Today, they must add those of twenty or so very young children and the grief of all their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, other relatives, and every person in this country who has a heart.
Follow Matthew Chapman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SimianMatthew