Following yet another school shooting in the USA I was interested to hear an interview with Justin Webb who in 2001 moved to the United States, as the BBC’s chief Washington correspondent and has since returned to the UK.
Webb said that in his eight years in America he came to love many aspects of American life. But the link between freedom and guns he could never grasp. He would ask his American friends to look around the world and ask themselves if Yemen (which has one of the highest rates of gun ownership per person) really a nation they admire and seek to emulate?”
He never really got an answer. But he says that getting an answer — or at least holding a sensible discussion — is the big challenge for America now. It is a question of addressing culture. It is a multi-generational project where urban and suburban Americans try to persuade the rest of the nation that freedom can still be protected, without a gun in the closet. And it has to be persuasion.
You have to accept that this link between freedom and guns is a genuine and honest view. Any real effort to take guns away from people would result in something approaching a new civil war. It would not be politically possible.
It struck me how similar this was to the attitude to circumcision in the USA. Circumcision is an entrenched cultural practice that is going to take years to change.
In the past the UK has imported many things from the US but I am glad that gun culture in not one of them. We must do all we can to ensure that routine circumcision is also not one of them.