Shockwaves of Sandy Hook tragedy hit home

Lancashire Evening Post head of content Blaise Tapp
Lancashire Evening Post head of content Blaise Tapp
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It is often said that where the Americans lead us Brits follow, usually about six months afterwards.

While there are some notable exceptions most trends begin their trans-Atlantic journey Stateside, which is understandable considering the sheer difference in size of the two nations: the US has a population 311 million folk while 60 million of us call the United Kingdom home.

Our obsession with all things American is a mystery to some Little Englanders, who believe that the larger, brasher nation is one devoid of any real culture and is corrupting influence on modern society.

Although we speak the same language there are real differences between our societies with the most obvious difference being the conflicting attitudes to guns.

The vast majority of Brits simply do not get or American cousins’ obsession with firearms and even more perplexed by the steadfast refusal of some to acknowledge there is a problem with this national addiction to bullets even after the appalling events of Friday when 20 beautiful six and seven-year-old babies were slaughtered in their classrooms alongside six female school staff in Newtown, New England.

There is not one parent I have spoken to who has not hugged their own youngsters that little bit tighter following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School – it truly is an international tragedy, with much of the interest now focusing on whether or not this unspeakable tragedy will change America’s relationship with the gun.

Many think that once the initial outrage and, wholly justifiable, wailing of a nation has subsided then any suggestion of a change in the US’s notoriously lax gun laws will be pushed to the back of the national agenda.

Anyone who doubted Barack Obama’s tears when he addressed the world shortly after the horrors of Newtown first emerged is a fool, but whether or not he has the stomach for an attritional battle with the all conquering gun lobby over any dramatic changes to current gun laws is a different matter altogether.

The tragedy has been described as America’s Dunblane but whether it will have the same effect on America that the 1996 school shootings had on life here remains to be seen.

But should we care?

After all Sandy Hook is thousands of miles from our shores and, after all, there has not been anywhere near this reaction to the tragic deaths of nine Afghan schoolgirls who died when one of them triggered a landmine while they carried out their daily chores.

The fact is that despite our obvious differences with America we have a real connection with life there – largely due to the miracles of television, cinema and internet.

It is why some British news networks appeared to devote as much time to covering the race to the White House as they did to scrutinising our own General Election. In the Global Village America is our closest neighbour – we admire their triumphs and share their grief.