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Haven't we been here before?
Not too long ago, politicians here decided that current patterns of behaviour relating to alcohol were unacceptable. They looked at the legislation typical of European countries that have healthier approaches to drinking, and reasoned that introducing the same sorts of relaxed laws in this country would encourage Britons to drink more like Europeans.

Naturally it failed - it's an issue of mentality, not law. The British attitude to drinking is roughly that alcohol should be consumed in large quantities over short periods of time, because being drunk facilitates a 'fun' night out better than being sober, so the act of drinking tends to just be the means of transition between those two states.

The same is roughly true of American society, I suspect. Guns are a part of the culture, and assuming that legislating them will somehow 'fix' things is an over-simplification. I'm not saying it wouldn't help, but I have a feeling that the impulse to go forth and kill would still exist even if guns were harder to come by. It's an impulse that seems to be a good deal less prevalent in other countries, even where gun ownership is very high.

It seems to me like America goes along pretty much hating itself. Or, rather, half of America hates the other half at any given time. Whether it's Republicans and Democrats, or Science vs Religion, or Pro Choice vs Pro Life, or the war, or gay marriage, or whatever.. The "melting pot" is not effectively mixed, and there's more division within the population than within any other country I can think of. And yet, it all gets repressed in the name of patriotism. Democrats who are anti-war and anti-Bush feel that they have to "support our troops" and "support our president".

The problem is then that the more extreme views tend to be held by the more rabidly patriotic people, which just makes them even more repressed. It's a problem with the country, not the laws therein.

The only thing that surprises me is that other people are still surprised by these incidents. I think that these days, the only thing that runs through my mind is "Oh, another school shooting", and I just move on. Every time there's something "shocking" - this time it's that so many were killed, last time it was the fact that it was Amish kids, etc.. But the general concept is the same each time, and it's getting a bit old. It honestly is starting to feel like the joke "Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people". It just seems to be a given hazard of living in that country, that there's a chance a nutter is just going to shoot you at random.

It's a small personal comfort that at least it isn't my problem to fix it, because to be honest, I don't think legislating will sort anything out, it's a cultural issue, and those aren't easily dealt with.