How is this happening again?

As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?
When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?

Where do I start? I’m very rarely at a loss for words, but I am struggling to get my head around everything that’s happening at the moment.

So, let’s eat this news elephant one teaspoon at a time:
Whitehall parties: leadership comes from the top. An organisation’s ethics, heart and moral compass is shaped by that of its head. It certainly is in this industry. There were parties in Whitehall during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, we know that for a fact. Those attending and organising didn’t really care about breaking the rules because they thought they were above them. That kind of ‘because I want to’ attitude comes from the top. If you think this is more Boris-bashing the stop a moment and imagine this whole news story blowing up under Teresa May’s leadership. Wouldn’t have happened. Ditto under David Cameron’s, Gordon Brown’s or Tony Blair’s, regardless of what you might think of them and their premierships.

Cost of living crisis: Rishi Sunak may be feeling that he should be getting all the love for his handout from the windfall tax that isn’t a windfall tax, but merchants were doing it first. I know there are others, but off the top of my head, the Joseph Parr Group and Scott Parnell are among those merchant companies to quietly give something back to their staff to help them with the horrendous increase in their bills. Kudos all round.
If anything really hammers home the need for a far-reaching, country-wide refurbishment programme focussed on insulation and energy-efficiency of the building fabric, then this energy price crisis is it. Will it happen? Probably not.

War in Ukraine: Putin may have thought that the incursion into Ukraine was going to be a quick, get-in, overthrow the democratically elected leader and stick a puppet-president in and get-out. He was wrong. So, so wrong. But then, I’m not sure that Zelensky has realised just how long this might go on for. There’s a very real possibility that this could be strung out like the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was, over years and years. At a horrendous cost of lives. At the moment the news coming out of the Donbas region in the east is horrifying. The Russians are fighting to obliviate the city of Severodonetsk. They might succeed. I can’t bear the thought of another Mariupol, but they might.

Travel chaos: What with the huge number of flight cancellations, every day and at the last minute, NMBS will be lucky to get 100% of their delegates there for the end of their Sorrento conference in a fortnight’s time, let alone the start. And that’s before you build in the chaos of people whose passport renewals are stuck in processing hell, 10 weeks in and counting…

Texas shooting: This is where I really do run out of words. 26 years ago, a man went on the rampage in a school in Dunblane and the UK Government banned handguns. We have not had a similar incident since. 10 years ago, 26 people were killed in a school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Despite the out-pouring of grief, of vows that this would have to be the last time, that it must never be allowed to happen again, it did. It happened again. It happened last week.
What kind of you-know-whated-up country has a law that will allow a teenage boy, barely three years older than my son, to legally purchase an A15 assault rifle. He took it into a primary school and he slaughtered 19 children and two teachers. Some of those children had to be identified via DNA from their relatives.

I say again, what kind of you-know-whated-up country allows this? The gun lobby can claim until it is blue in the face that it’s not guns that kill people, but bad people with guns that kill people. Yet the money that is poured into American politics from the NRA ensures that it is still, after Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Las Vegas, after Buffalo, after Uvalde, Texas, only too easy for those bad people to acquire assault weapons to take into a primary school. Those children were between eight and ten years old. Eight and ten. And the NRA still went ahead with its conference.

I really have run out of words on this, so I’m going to leave it to NBA basketball coach Steve Kerr , and the front page of the New York Times’ Sunday Review, who say everything that I feel about this and more.


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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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