22 Apr 2013

America the mad?

A policewoman is cut down in a hale of bullets from an automatic rifle. The prime suspect in a heinous assault on charity runners and their supporters in the Boston Marathon lies dead. A major American city is shut down – its citizens lock their doors and remain trapped in their homes for a day – held hostage against the horror of a 19-year-old man with armed with automatic weapons stalking the city’s streets.

The president of the United States is in the White House, his every waking minute subject to briefings on the progress of the police operation to ensnare the 19-year-old. His day-to-day work of running the country is stilled. The twittersphere throbs to the ins and outs, lies and truths of the manhunt.

The president of the United States is nursing his own political wounds – but from what? A failed attempt in the highest political gathering in the land – the US senate, no less – to persuade legislators to pass a simple law to strengthen background checks on people who buy guns. His tentative bid to outlaw the sale of automatic weapons is so smashed that it never even made it to the senate floor.

The world remains stunned by the horror of bombs that blew the legs off spectators, spattering shrapnel across the living bodies of over 150 spectators at the charity raising Boston marathon.

Finally a hail of automatic rifle rounds fired from his own automatic rifle and those of the pursuing police officers, catastrophically wounds and finally floors the 19-year-old.

Why is the president of the United States not himself back in the Senate today – out on the media – demanding again, and again, and again, why the constitution of the United States cannot be amended to outlaw the sale of such weapons and amended to ensure the most rigorous background checks for those who seek to buy a weapon of any kind?

Because America fixates not on the lessons of weapons availability but on the threat of the bombs of “the abroad” at home; and because America basks in the brilliance of the police operation that has revealed, removed, arrested and resolved the threat that held a million hostage for a day. America breathes again, and moves on.

But we, who live with America abroad, with America our ally, dare not ask the abiding question. Is this America the mad? America held hostage itself by a gun lobby that brooks no limits?

Follow @jonsnowC4 on Twitter.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4