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It’s the run up to another American election, and Americans do some funny this at a time like this. In the year 2000, for instance, they narrowly voted for Al Gore as President, probably, but the voting was so close, and as they couldn’t figure out how to read the voting papers, the gave the job to George W Bush instead. Four years later, when it was possible to right the wrong, amazingly they actually voted for George W Bush, and gave him four more years in Pennsylvania Avenue.

One thing is for sure at an American election, and that is that if any candidate were stupid enough to want to tighten America’s gun laws, they’d lose. Badly. America’s National Rifle Association is probably one of the most powerful lobbies in the world, they promote the right of all Americans to own firearms. Any attempt by politicians to tighten America’s lax gun laws, is met by resistance from the NRA, and they always win. This is a real problem as America really needs to stop people owning hand guns. We did it here in the UK, so it can be done.

You are never going to stop crazy people shooting other people in schools and work places. Since the murders at Columbine High School in Colorado in April 1999, there have been 28 similar events in America leaving a total of 211 people dead and a further 157 injured.

But it gets worse. On 24th August this year, a man named Jeffrey Johnson went to the office of his former employers on West 33rd Street in Manhattan, and on the street outside the office shot dead ex-colleague Steven Ercolino. He was seen to do it and was followed as he walked down W 33rd Street towards 5th Avenue. As Johnson arrived at W 33rd and 5th, right outside the Empire State Building, the police were alerted, Johnson pulled out his gun, the police did the same and in the ensuing gun battle, Johnson was killed. But, and it’s a big but, the police also shot nine innocent people, nine, who just happened to be in a busy part of Manhattan at the start of the working day. Surely the police could have shot this guy without also wounding nine members of the public? You’d think so wouldn’t you.

I’ve walked down W 33rd street and turned the corner on to 5th, and it’s a busy area. If the police open fire in a place like this, as they did, people will be shot. It’s something Americans have to live with all the time.

Some years ago I was talking to an American bloke, who could not understand what I mean by saying America is a gun culture. He genuinely seemed to think that the way America is, is the way the world is, when in reality America is a dangerous place to live and has more guns per head of population than any other country in the world. In fact there are 90 handguns for every 100 people, so about 280M handguns in circulation.

One of the victims of the late-night shooting in Denver Colorado, when a gunman opened fire on cinema goers attending the première of a Batman film, was only 6 years old. Surely something should be done to prevent tragedies like this happening, and a good start would to prevent access to hand guns.

Unfortunately, Americans seem to hold as sacrosanct the second amendment to the United States Constitution which, of course, states that all citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. It was back on 15th December 1791 that they adopted the Bill of Rights, and they have not changed this part of it since. Surely the time has come to ban hand guns totally?

No it hasn’t, the NRA would never have it, I doubt the American people want it and no politician is ever going to suggest it.

So the American people, and their visitors, will just have to accept that if you spend time in a country built on a wild-west style constitution, more than 200 years out of date, that there is always the possibility that some lunatic, or a Policeman, will shoot you.