The shootings in Cumbria are, of course, a tragedy. No words can be written here or elsewhere that will do justice to the sheer scale of loss that the families of the victims are suffering nor the communities where the crimes were committed so I don’t even intend to try to pretend that anything I write will have any significance in that regard. The immediate demand will be that something must be done and no doubt politicians will be sensitive to that demand. They cannot tell the truth; that no amount of regulation they bring in will prevent these tragic events being repeated at some stage, in some form purely and simply because even the most totalitarian state cannot have total control and that is how things should be.
It was gratifying to see that politicians of all-stripes seemed to avoid a knee-jerk response. Understandably, the local MP feels that gun laws may need to be looked at again while Keith Vaz rightly said time needs to be taken before any change in the law is considered. Next Left reports on the frankly, off-the-wall, response of the Libertarian Alliance which feels the solution may be the lifting of such restrictions; precisely which planet the Libertarian Alliance inhabit is currently unknown. Making firearms more generally availiable would make society much more dangerous and fatalities from shootings much more common as a commentor on the Next Left piece argues elequently:
Firearm-related deaths per 100,000 population per year
England and Wales: 0.38
Even stripping out suicides (shooting yourself is a far more popular method in the US than the UK, evidently) you’re still more than 20 times more likely to be shot to death in the US than the UK.
Although it’s probably unfashionable and unpopular to say so the best political response to tragedies like the one in Cumbria is to do possibly nothing at all or the little that can be done as quietly, quickly and efficiently as possible. People need the space to grieve but grief is a good guide to making bad policy, maybe this is cold and callous but politics has to be detached to a certain degree from emotion to serve its purpose of protecting and improving the lot of the people who invest hope in it that exceeds the possibilities of what it can realistically do sometimes.