HERE is all you need to know about the stupidity of gun laws in the US, wrapped up in a sentence taken from a report over here on the latest gun atrocity over there – “It is legal in Texas to carry a rifle.”
It is legal to what where? Yup, in Texas you can openly carry a rifle so long as long as you are not doing so in a “manner calculated to cause alarm”.
Perhaps we Brits are a sensitive lot, but just seeing a rifle being carried openly in public is like to cause alarm. Seeing police officers at the airport carrying rifles causes alarm, never mind any loose knucklehead who wants to go out with the latest Texas accessory.
There is a country song from Lyle Lovett called That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas), and I hate to drag this cheery ditty into the argument following the Dallas massacre. But no, I am not from Texas and I just don’t understand. I don’t understand it at all. Why would anyone carry a rifle unless they wished to show off in a gruesome fashion; or unless they were an idiot of the first order? Nope, this not from Texas man cannot grasp that one bloody little bit.
The following information comes from the Politifact Texas website, which reports that two years ago Mike Hashimoto, an editorial columnist for the Dallas Morning News, took exception to Texans strolling round with rifles, describing them rather splendidly as “chuckleheads strapping on their long rifles and marching into the local Chipotle or Chili’s or Home Depot. Whatever point they may have about gun-owner rights or Texas law they drown in look-at-me stupidity”.
Politifact Texas asked the question, and the legislative director of the Texas State Rifle Association, Alice Gene Tripp, said that the Texas penal code restricted handguns, but was silent about toting long rifles and shotguns.
Following the latest shooting, the police mistakenly released an image of a man they wanted to question and were searching as a suspect, sharing the image on Twitter. Mark Hughes quickly handed himself in, pointing out that he had done nothing illegal, although he did hand his rifle over to police. It is easy to understand the police reaction as Mr Hughes was carrying a rifle at a time when a black army veteran with a rifle had opened fired on a peaceful protest, killing five white police officers.
Someone in Texas needs to change that law and change it quickly.
As a sign of how deplorably mad the US is on guns, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were forced to postpone events in their presidential election campaigns – for the second time in a month, following the massacre of 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Yup again, twice in a month. And that’s 54 people killed by bullets in that short interlude. Maybe it’s time Clinton and Trump addressed the issue in their speeches – although Barack Obama has done so many tearful times, without making a difference at all.
While we were away recently, we met some cultured and interesting Americans, a useful reminder that the US is a beautifully wide and lovely country containing many good people. Sadly, it is also a country locked into an ancient frontier mentality when it comes to guns. I have said it before, but here goes: if guns were not so widely available, then these incidents wouldn’t happen. Simple, isn’t it?
We might get many things wrong over here, and heaven knows we’re in post-referendum mess now, with half the country pissed off, and with two political parties coming apart at the seams, but at least we show a bit more sense about guns.