i Editor's Letter: This shooting spree...


Click to follow
The Independent Online


It is hard to write about anything else in the wake of the horrific tragedy of the Colorado cinema killings, but what, meaningfully, can one say beyond expressing our revulsion at the deed, and our sympathy for those hurt in the attack, their families and, of course, the families of those who were murdered?

They had simply gone to watch the new Batman movie. Instead, they ran into James Holmes, his personal arsenal of weapons and unfathomable state of mind. As with Anders Breivik, we are left numb by the notion that such men walk among us, attend school and college with our children and go to the cinema like everybody else.

Sadly, inevitably, such personal acts become political very quickly, especially so with both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on the campaign trail. It is time for brave words and deeds from America's leaders, but don't hold your breath.

Neither may genuinely believe that this shooting spree, like so many before it, from Columbine to Virginia Tech, has anything to do with America's attitudes to guns and gun controls, but even if they did it is unlikely that they would say so. The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, is simply too powerful. Bluntly put, they fear losing too many votes.

It is left instead to the pro-gun-control Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, to raise the difficult questions. But, even then, it is more complex than the relative ubiquity of guns. Look beyond America and Breivik, and think back to Derrick Bird in Cumbria in 2010. Having much stricter gun control, as we do in the UK, is no guarantee that such tragedies will not occur again, but it is difficult not to believe this sad morning that it would be a start.