CHARLES GRAHAM - Time US followed Brit gun example

THOMAS Hamilton, Michael Ryan, Derrick Bird.

Names that immediately bring to mind some of the most grotesque moments in British peacetime history.

The names, like the places where they happened - Dunblane, Hungerford and Whitehaven - are branded in the mind not only because the crimes were so appalling but also because, thankfully, they are so few.

In the US they have had so many gun rampage atrocities that most Americans not directly involved in these massacres (unless they are unhinged gun nuts themselves) would be hard pushed to name most perpetrators after a short time has elapsed.

A blow to those maniacs who do it to make a name for themselves perhaps, but more a measure of the scale of the problem they have across the Atlantic.

It is a tragic and terrible state of affairs which makes me wonder over and over again why Americans continue to insist on the right to bear arms. Each time we have one of these all-too-frequent slaughters, the debate about gun laws flares up once more, only to subside unresolved very quickly thereafter.

What on earth it will take for the most technically advanced country, the so called land of the free, to see sense and accept that 21st century civilisation does not benefit from having a gun in almost every home?

Some may believe that the genie is out of the bottle on this issue; others will maintain that you need a gun for your own protection.

But there is no evidence that being so armed makes you less vulnerable to violent crime - on the contrary, it ups the ante for criminals to bear arms too if they think they are going to be out-gunned by their victims.

The risk of getting shot and killed therefore rises commensurately.

A neighbour of mine when I was young was shot dead in America almost the moment he stepped off the plane for a holiday - another victim of lax gun laws.

His death, those of the 12 killed at the Colorado Batman premiere and thousands of others over the years, should not simply be regarded as an acceptable hazard of a ludicrous right to carry a deadly weapon.

Thank God we have more sense.