I have fired guns only once in my life, on a stag party to the Czech capital Prague a few years ago when part of the itinerary included a trip to an indoor shooting range. For three hours, our group were let loose on everything from Magnum 45 handguns and Glock pistols, to high-powered ‘sniper' rifles and pump-action shotguns.
It was controlled, legal, safe and undeniably exciting. But it also showed me, quite demonstrably, that guns are killing machines.
Rarely has the hideous effect of a gun been more acutely laid bare than at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, two weeks ago – when a deranged young man called Adam Lanza murdered 20 schoolchildren aged six and seven, as well as six adults, in a sickening rampage.
Speaking out: Piers Morgan angered 90,000 gun-lovers in the US when he spoke out about gun control
The Sandy Hook massacre brought back such horribly vivid memories for me of Dunblane, the worst mass shooting in Britain in my lifetime.
I was editor of the Daily Mirror on that day back in 1996 and will never forget the appalling TV footage of those poor Scottish mothers sprinting to the small primary school, many already howling with anguish at the thought of what might have happened to their five-year-old children.
It was a slaughter so senseless, so unspeakable, that it reduced even hard-bitten news reporters, including me, to tears.
And as I watched the parents at Sandy Hook racing to try to find their children, I saw the same images, the same terror, that engulfed Dunblane. And I felt the same tears welling up.
Then, 16 five-year-old children were slain in their classroom. Now, 20 six- and seven-year-olds. Beautiful young lives snuffed out before they had a chance to fulfil any of their potential. It made me so gut-wrenchingly angry.
I have four children. And I still remember the blind terror I felt when I lost my son Stanley, then aged two, for half an hour at a cricket match on a field surrounded by a small running creek. I was sure he'd drowned. But I was lucky: he finally emerged from where he'd been hiding – big, cheeky grin intact.
Every parent has a similar story. To even try to conceive of how you would feel if your child was shot multiple times in the head by a Rambo madman at school is just impossible. I honestly don't know how you would ever carry on with life.
But my anger turned to blind rage when I saw the reaction to this hideous massacre in America.
Eager to buy: After the Sandy Hook massacre, sales of the specific weapon used, an AR-15 assault rifle (pictured) rocketed
Gun frenzy: People crowd the RK Gun Show in the Smokies in Knoxville, Tennessee on Friday, December 28, 2012. Sales of high-capacity bullet magazines have also risen
Sales of the specific weapon used, an AR-15 military-style assault rifle, rocketed at gun stores all over America in the days following the Sandy Hook shooting.
And the country's biggest gun supplier, Brownells, said it sold more high-capacity bullet magazines in three days than it normally did in three-and-a-half years.
What is behind this apparently insane behaviour? The answer is, mainly, fear.
The well-organised, richly funded, vociferous pro-gun lobby were straight out, on my CNN show and many other media outlets, declaring that the only way those schoolchildren would have survived is if their teachers had been armed. It's been their answer to every mass shooting.
After the shootings at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, in July – where 70 people were hit, the worst victim-count in such an incident in US history, and 12 people died – sales of guns in the state rose by a staggering 41 per cent in the following month as people bought into the theory that if everyone in the theatre had been armed too, they'd have stopped the shooter. Can you imagine the scene as 200 people pulled out guns and started blazing away in a dark theatre?
The gun-lobby logic dictates that the only way to defend against gun criminals is for everyone else to have a gun, too. Teachers, nurses, clergymen, shop assistants, cinema usherettes – everyone must be armed.
To me, this is a warped, twisted logic that bears no statistical analysis and makes no sense. Do you fight drug addiction with more cocaine? Alcoholism with more Jack Daniel's? Of course not.
But woe betide anyone who dares suggest this. In the days following Sandy Hook, I interviewed a number of gun-rights representatives and grew increasingly furious as they trotted out these hackneyed old disingenuous lines.
Outspoken: Morgan called gun advocate Larry Pratt 'an unbelievably stupid man' on his show last week
Finally, I erupted at one of them, a man with the unfortunate name of Larry Pratt, who runs the Gun Owners of America lobbying group.
‘You,' I eventually declared, ‘are an unbelievably stupid man.'
And that was the catalyst for the full wrath of the gun lobby to crash down on my British head.
A petition was created on an official White House website demanding my deportation for ‘attacking the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution'. This, of course, is the one that alludes to an American's ‘right to bear arms'.
The concerted effort to get me thrown out of the country – which has so far gathered more than 90,000 signatures – struck me as rather ironic, given that by expressing my opinion I was merely exercising my rights, as a legal US resident, under the 1st Amendment, which protects free speech.
But no matter.
This gun debate is an ongoing war of verbal attrition in America – and I'm just the latest target, the advantage to the gun lobbyists being that I'm British, a breed of human being who burned down the White House in 1814 and had to be forcefully deported en masse, as no American will ever be allowed to forget – Special Relationship notwithstanding.
It's no exaggeration to say that America's unique fondness for guns pretty much got cemented by hatred of us Brits and the War of Independence. But the main reason the more fervent gun-rights activists give is a fear of their own US federal government using its army to impinge on their freedom. The problem is that America's historical love of guns means the country is now awash with them – and with gun death.
Outrage: A petition on an official White House website demanding Piers Morgan's deportation had garnered more than 40,000 signatures by Monday afternoon
The bare statistics say it all. There are 311 million people in the United States and an estimated 300 million guns in circulation. (Between four million and seven million new firearms are manufactured in the US every year.)
Take out children from the population figure, and that's comfortably more than one gun per person.
Each year, on average, 100,000 Americans are shot with a gun. Of these, over 31,000 are fatalities, 11,000 of them murders and 18,000 suicides. More than a million people have been killed with guns in America since 1968 when Dr Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.
The US firearm murder rate is 19.5 times higher than the 22 next most populous, high-income countries in the world. And a staggering 80 per cent of firearm deaths in the combined 23 countries occur in America.
My campaign against America's gun laws didn't begin two weeks ago when Adam Lanza committed his carnage. It began a week before I went on air for CNN, in January 2011. A US Congresswoman called Gabby Giffords was shot in the head by another deranged young man at an outdoor event in Tucson, Arizona, and miraculously survived. Six others, including a nine-year-old girl, were murdered.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2254758/Piers-Morgan-Deport-If-America-wont-change-crazy-gun-laws-I-deport-myself.html#ixzz2GYAmLmc0
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