Gun benefits far outweighed by damage they wreak
• I had a letter published in the Irish Independent last July after the massacre in Aurora. The only change I have made here is changing Aurora for Newtown.
The events in Newtown offer yet more evidence that the free availability of guns is not good for a society. There can be no doubt that the proclaimed benefits of guns for defensive use are outweighed by the damage wrought by guns used for offensive purposes.
The United States is, in many ways, one of the most advanced countries in the world, yet it is a country where the right to free speech in the constitution is immediately followed by the right to keep and bear arms. Some 45pc of American homes have guns. One in four Americans own a gun. The average gun owner owns four guns. Thirty-thousand people a year die from gunshot wounds in America. The homicide rate in the US is a multiple of that in other advanced countries.
Be it as a result of the nation's frontier history, when guns were part and parcel of westward expansion, the Wild West heritage, the spirit of masculine individualism, the portrayal of heroes wielding guns in gangster and war films or the motif of the lone cowboy taking on the bad guys, large parts of America undoubtedly have a love affair with the gun.
There is a direct correlation between gun ownership and gun-related crime. This begs the question of causality: does a higher rate of gun ownership cause more gun-related deaths and injuries? On this point, the words of the late great Bill Hicks still resonate: "There's no connection, and you'd be a fool and a communist to make one – there's no connection between having a gun and shooting someone with it, and not having a gun and not shooting someone."
To the National Rifle Association I say: there are none so blind as those who will not see.
Stocking Avenue, Dublin 16