You’ll have noticed that I do this in my blog.  I tend to ask questions aloud about topics I don’t entirely comprehend, rather than tell you how angry I am about something, and tell you how my opinion matters more than anyone else’s. [OK, sometimes I’m blunt and opinionated]

This applies again to this topic, which I simply cannot understand.  I have never held a gun or any other firearm.  Given the opportunity to do so, I would, but with extreme trepidation.  I appreciate that a gun is simply a tool.  A tool with which you can kill or injure other living beings.  Guns of course can be used to target anything, but some are specifically designed to be fired at human beings.  Isn’t it a very peculiar society that we manufacture, advertise and sell weapons like this to the general public, when their only legitimate use would be by the armed forces?

Just like everyone else, I grew up watching films about cowboys, wars, space, bank robberies and many others, where the conflict meant that all kinds of guns were used to kill all kinds of people (and aliens).  The result of this is that I am somewhat inured to the circumstance of weapons being discharged, and people’s flesh being torn apart by bullets.  I’ve seen this thousands of times, and therefore have a false perception that I know about guns.  But still, I’ve never held one, and would probably be shaking with fear if I ever do.

So I wonder, what must it be like to be used to handling guns?  I heard tell this morning of a BP office in Texas, where the UK manager thought it was beyond strange for all office staff to be carrying weapons to work. There was outrage, when he insisted that all guns must be checked in at the reception desk, when arriving for work.  What must it be like when everyone you meet has the ability to kill you, and is carrying a machine designed for this very purpose?

I’m not normally one for the whole “sending out signals” thing, but I submit that an armed community is a community with a hair-trigger, and one where “accidents” with lethal consequences are much more likely to occur.  In Arizona last weekend, where carrying weapons in public is almost obligatory, a lone gunman killed 6 people and injured 14 more.  If carrying a weapon means you can shoot back when attacked, why was he not shot himself?

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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