I have just spent the last 3 hours watching CNN International cover the tragedy of the mass shooting in Newton, Connecticut, USA, and as a parent it has left me unbelievably sad. I am looking forward to spending my third Christmas with my son and the rest of my family, and I cannot comprehend the depth of hollow sadness that 20 sets of parents must be experiencing right now. This emptiness will continue tragically for not only the 20 families, but for that whole community. It will remain a permanent tear in the very fabric of the society that forms this community. The constant coverage is looking at everything from what the shooter’s motives were to what the political response will be to the crime. But what triggered me to write this post was the absolutely incomprehensible response by a politician from Texas, Louie Gohmert, in an interview on Fox News. In this interview he says:

” I wish to god she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lung heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”

WTF!

I means seriously – WTF? I am a parent dealing with a two year who is occasionally pushing other kids as he is interacting with them. He is two, and is still learning to get to grips with what is right and wrong. Yet in the USA, you have an elected representative claiming that the solution to preventing the tragedy is to arm teachers. I cannot imagine the psychological damage and harm that this would do to my son growing up if he goes to school knowing that his teacher has an assault rifle there just in case. I cannot imagine how I would possibly tell my son that it is not OK to push someone else – when he responds, “But my Teacher has a gun, with plenty of bullets. She can shoot people if they are naughty.” This politician’s response is sheer bloody lunacy, and bordering on mental sickness.

In 2009, Australia had 30 homicides committed through the use of a firearm. In the same year the USA had 9,146 homicides committed through the use of firearms. Even if you pro-rated that against the differences in populations (22 million in Australia versus 313 million in USA), that would still only give Australia just over 420 firearm homicides annually. Making that the equivalent of a USA firearm homicide rate 20 times that of Australia – apples for apples.

Those school kids are never coming back, neither are those kids from Columbine, and neither are the people from the movie theatre in Colorado.

I do not understand what is the “culture” of the gun that challenges the Western world’s largest democracy (India is the world’s largest democracy) from tackling the issue of gun control. Is it that the USA is paranoid that the British will try and bring them back into the Empire? After all, that is the foundation for which the second amendment is based on. Is it that the USA desires a return to the lawless Wild West where everyone was walking around with a sidearm? Is it that they want the kind of militias that plague countries like Somalia.

I think that people should seriously assess why gun control advocates are so scared of being silenced, as Charles M. Blow wrote for the New York Times. Guns are not banned in Australia, but you cannot own an assault rifle and their use is restricted to the the people who should be using them – the Australian Armed Forces. This is a Defence Force who has only ever defended us, and Australians have no fear of them turning Australia into a military dictatorship because we live in a liberal (in the terms of a free people and not the bent of a political party) democracy where the rights of individuals are protected by the institutions of state – legal system, law enforcement system, etc. – and not solely controlled by the government of the day.  Gun control does not mean the total ban of guns, there are legitimate reasons for having a gun – ask any farmer on a large farm or ranch or a sports shooter at the Olympic Games. Nor does gun control mean demonising gun owners. But it does mean that people should not be able to run around with Glocks, AR-15 assault rifles, or AK-47s. And if criminals are illegally carrying these weapons, then I trust that our law enforcement departments do the job they are entrusted to do.

All I know is that as a parent, I am so glad that my child is being raised in a country where he is 20 times safer. And my job is to make that environment even safer still so that he can do the same for his children in the future. No amount of words that I write can convey the sympathy that I feel for these 20 families and the families of the teachers who also died trying to protect the most precious asset that we have – our children.