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Will America ever learn?

An American gun owner in Utah. George Frey/Getty

After last week’s school shooting in Texas, it took a British journalist, Mark Stone of Sky News, “to ask a question the world is thinking”, says Janice Turner in The Times. Cornering Republican bigwig Ted Cruz, Stone said: “Why does this only happen in your country? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?” Cruz “feigned affront at British impertinence, then scuttled away”. Will America ever learn? After similar tragedies – Australia’s Port Arthur massacre, Britain’s Dunblane shooting – fellow Anglophone democracies declared “never again” and meant it. But the US sees itself “not as part of the world, but alone, above it”. An idea which was once “the root of its pre-eminence” is now its tragedy.

For decades we’ve been “bewitched” by America: its “granite glitter, boundless possibility, all that West Wing liberal swagger, the moon landings, Hollywood, a bigness and can-do mindset unimaginable in cramped, sclerotic Europe”. Our infatuation with American life has gone mad – British diversity campaigners use the term BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour) even though “our indigenous tribes are Picts or Celts”. The term “Anglo-Saxon” is on the way out in British academia because the US far right likes it. But in reality, the US is falling behind. Its infrastructure is crumbling – New York’s subway system is a “sewer”. Californians pick their way home through tent cities, “rarely appreciating how mad this looks in the world’s richest nation”. We’re still under America’s spell, but with every school shooting “its soft power melts”.

📈 The statistics on guns in America are “mind-boggling”, says Piers Morgan in The Sunday Times. There are now more guns in America (nearly 400 million) than people (330 million). The US has 40,000 gun deaths a year, “more than the next 23 richest countries combined”. In the 150 days since the start of the year, there have been 212 mass shootings with four or more victims injured or killed.