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Posted by Philip on 16 December 2012, 3:50 pm in , , ,

Will the big guns have the balls to change gun laws after shooting?

Today at brunch with a friend was the first time I've discussed last week's Connecticut school shooting. In itself I found that disconcerting – have I become so immune to US massacres that I no longer feel the need to voice my sadness and amazement?

But while I may have only just voiced them I haven't been without thoughts on the matter. Obama himself concurred that such incidents have been too many this year and the mainstream press has, in its usual clumsy way, begun to bring back into focus the gun debate.

What seems obviously different to me with this shooting is that pro-gun lobbyists, who have done so in response to previous incidents, particularly the the Colorado cinema attack, can't argue that more gun ownership would have stopped this one. To do so would be to suggest arming children for self-defence.

Surely even most Americans would see the stupidity in that. Or perhaps they would suggest arming teachers...

Some are saying that Obama's talk about "the anguish, and the need for action, [yet] not at all about the right to bear arms" is enough, in the troubled world of gun-control politics, to trigger "a crack in the status quo." I'm not expert enough in such matters to comment.

What I did say over my second short black, is that the fact that this US president didn't announce an instant ban on private firearm purchases, followed by a year's amnesty on firearm ownership, then fines and or imprisonment (not that I wish to advocate incarceration), shows the myth of leadership in politics.

The President is not in charge. Politicians do not run countries. They are merely the pawns of business and industry, in this case, the firearms industry. How much would that be worth in USD? Let's not go there.

On a different but equally tragic and related note, our caffeinated conversation turned to the suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha after being targeted by the antics of Sydney radio jocks impersonating the Queen. Once again, let's not forget the back-story to that: a global media entertainment empire that sells advertising off the back of humiliating stunts and shaming shenanigans.

All of which resonate with the words of social researcher Brene Brown, whose book, I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough" I have been reading. In a world where shame and blame pervade just about all aspects of every culture, you realise — well, I do — just how complex, overwhelming and far down the rabbit hole all this stuff is.

So I'm reminded how easy it would be to say, shame on you, Barack Obama, and blame him for not leading more strongly. Indeed were it that easy, I hope he would. I'm aware, too, that I cannot imagine the shame a woman must have felt to kill herself for making a simple mistake, nor should two pop hosts be blamed.

The hardest is to feel compassion for a young man who killed 20 kids. Yet, according to Brown, shame and blame are killing us, and compassion is their only antidote.

Were I to say anything to anyone about all this, it would be, we need more compassion in the world, the "smart compassion" that Shaun McKinney talked of. And that's going to take a lot of balls for all of us.

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