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Hanna Flint Headshot

We Need to Talk About Guns, America

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'This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.'

Tell me America, for I'm just an ignorant, left-leaning, religiously apathetic Brit who'd love to know, exactly what is 'brave' about 28 innocent people shot dead in cold blood? Because I'm sure a country that allows the murder of 20 school children isn't 'the land of the free' Elmer Davis was talking about.

You, America, you have arrogantly shunned the restrictions on guns, which have allowed domestic aggressors to bear arms against innocent people. To deprive wives their husbands, fathers their sons, daughters their mothers.

To force six-year-olds to watch classmates fall to their death before their very eyes.

All because - according to AWR Hawkins - your 'right to keep and bear arms is a God-given right.' Why this entitlement is 'God-given' when guns are man-made defeats me, but AWR justifies this position as such:

'Because Divine Law and Natural Law both flow from God, they are in agreement with one another. Thus, whereas Divine Law teaches, "Thou shall not kill," Natural Law provides us with the intuitive knowledge that killing in cold blood is wrong.'

That argument fails to hold up when you consider the UNODC Global Study on Homicide that shows 9960 people were killed in cold blood with firearms in 2010.

Obviously those murderers didn't think their actions were 'wrong'.

So when you've racked up more homicides through gun crime than Iraq, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo and a vast number of other war-torn countries currently in conflict, there is clearly something wrong with your ideology that continues to function under a pretence of self-defence.

According to the Guardian's Datablog, a staggering 88 out of 100 Americans carry firearms. But plenty of other populations manage to survive without a tool for killing as part of their individual entitlements, with some nations even changing their laws to reflect the tragic consequences of gun use.

After the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, the Australian federal government co-ordinated all states and territories in heavily restricting the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading and pump-action shotguns, as well as significantly tightening controls on their legal use.

Just 30 deaths from gun crime were recorded in Australia last year.

Japan is the developed world's least gun-populated nation and with some of the strictest laws on ownership, the country experienced just 11 deaths by firearms in 2011.

In his article on Japanese gun control, Max Fisher mentions the NRA's David Kopel who conducted a study on the subject for the Asia Pacific Law Review in 1993. Still cited as current, Kopel's piece showed that Japanese police never held firearms 'until, in 1946, the American occupation authority ordered them to.'

Today, police are trained more intensively than their American equivalents; spending hours studying martial arts and are forbidden from carrying guns off-duty, because they are only to be used as Kopel describes, in 'the rarest of circumstances.'

In the UK, police are not routinely armed and the Home Office reported this year that our stringent firearm policies have led to a seventh consecutive annual fall in gun-related offences. We also recorded just 14 deaths from gun crime in 2011, giving the UK one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world.

In 2012 alone, America has suffered eight mass shootings resulting in the death of 35 innocent victims and injuring 68 more.

Now, 20 children from Sandy Hook Elementary School will never open up their presents Christmas morning because of one man, a Glock, a Sig Sauer handgun and a .223-calibre rifle.

Adam Lanza may have pulled the trigger, but you America loaded the gun by your refusal to realise that the ratification of the second amendment over 221 years ago may no longer be fit for purpose.

In 1791 the United States had no police force therefore it made sense to construct the right to 'a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.'

But now with state and federal law enforcement in place to protect and serve shouldn't the only sort of vigilantism be left to the Sons of Anarchy?

The U.S. Constitution isn't a frozen document, but rather like the law, it is organic in that it is meant to evolve to reflect and protect the needs of your citizens in the changing times.

Since 1795 there have been 17 amendments, which have seen the abolition of slavery and the right to vote for all women and races. The 13th, 15th and 19th were sanctioned even after years of political and violent opposition against the campaigners fighting to establish them.

Of course gun proponents like the NRA will not want political action to restrict firearms. They want the government to legislate for greater powers, like to arm teachers instead. Not a very surprising - if not ridiculous - position for an organisation who's CEO said, 'the guys with the guns make the rules.'

Well sorry to say, this isn't Tombstone and the guys with the political office make the rules.

So America, I urge you, don't let your re-elected President forget his tearful promise to 'take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.'

For this isn't the time to run scared of gun control reforms. As Ezra Klein of The Washington Post points out: 'if roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing.'

This is the time to protect yourself, your kids and your neighbours with non-violent legislation, because self-defence is far from limited to the barrel of a smoking gun.