Us British people are many things, but quaint is not necessarily one of them.
However, on the subject of guns and gun control apparently that is exactly what we are.
It is impossible for the average American, even one who would never dream of picking up a loaded weapon, to understand that for us Brits guns are simply not the norm.
The ‘quaint’ comment, made to me during dinner with friends in America, was made with genuine surprise, and corresponding lifting of the eyebrows, to news that our police are not all armed and that despite my reputation as a former crime reporter, gun crime in the UK is pretty rare, with the exception of our more hardcore inner cities – and even that does not bear comparison with your medium- sized US town.
The recent shooting in Virginia, in the same place I enjoyed that discussion over a meal and wine, brought this situation home somewhat.
Not only were the victims and the assailant journalists, but one of those at the table had taught Adam, the cameraman.
Pulled in to represent the community and those who knew Adam, he told multiple TV stations of his personal and their collective devastation.
But when I asked him privately if he thought the repercussion of this incident would have an impact politically and help gather momentum against the pro-gun-lobby he answered with terrifying resignation ‘No way.
All those children died and no-one did anything then.
They (gun lobby) are too politically powerful.’
The frightening thing is he could have been referring to any of thousands of incidents involving guns.
I didn’t enquire which one, but it’s worth noting that the scene of this latest incident is just a hop, skip and jump from the Virginia Tech campus, where in 2007 a lone gunman shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others.
In the UK it is extremely unlikely this man would have had a gun.
It is not exactly rocket science to understand gun control matters. Our children are more likely to live, how quaint..