Here is the crux of the matter. I have read the above about 10 times. I would really like to know what you mean by a "cultural change" specifically. From above it really sounds like those that "most cherish the right to bear arms" should start to put the "rights of the nation as a whole" first by changing their mind on cherishing guns. In other words, the cultural change you speak of is having everyone agree to give up owning weapons. Correct me if I am wrong.
I think the cultural change required should be focused in two areas.
Firstly is in the attitude to dialogue and debate. My impression is that the broad camps of pro and anti gun ownership are in complete and utter ideological standoff. The debate is heated, aggressive and polarised - with very little real effort to find common ground, reach compromise and discuss what the end point should be and what the road map to achieving it really us.
Of course this is not entirely the fault of the pro gun lobby and I get that the anti-gun lobby can be as vociferous and dogmatic as anyone but what I see is bullish rhetoric, often centred on the 2nd amendment right to bear arms and epitomised by that Charlton Heston "cold, dead hands" quote.
I think that there needs to be a move away from this defensive, entrenched position - from both sides. I think it is better to accept that the 2nd amendment is not likely to change any time soon, that guns are part of life in the US and that it's better to look at what Americans want America to be like and work out how you do that together.
The second area is in access to high powered, semi automatic assault type weapons. Sure a handgun can kill but the scale of harm is reduced and the assailant far more easily contained by law enforcement or even, dare I say it, competent members of the public. I think that for the sake of the nation people should accept that ownership of and access to these type of weapons should be far more controlled than it is.
It's a bit like the rules around speeding. The German autobahn laws demonstrate that allowing people to do whatever speed they like does not automatically mean carnage on the roads however most countries put a speed limit in place to help moderate the abuse of speed. It does not stop speeding or road accidents completely but does put some constraints on people, especially on congested road networks like the UKs. We accept these constraints on our freedoms for the perceived good of the society as a whole.
I think it's a non-starter to assume the US could go the way of other countries overnight but I do think that people could change their view about what sort of weapons are reasonable for the average citizen to own whether it be for pure pleasure or protection. An acceptance that just because you can doesn't mean you should could over time make a real difference.
Perhaps, over time, people would feel less wedded to guns and the culture of gun ownership. Perhaps reducing or restricting handgun ownership would be more realistic over time. Encouraging people to ask why they feel the need to carry a gun just to go shopping, what the psychology of wanting to wander around town with an unconcealed weapon is - getting people to question this seemingly unassailable conditioning that "it's my right" and getting them to consider an alternative.
So I don't mean give up guns. I mean change the way you think about guns and how they are seen as part of the cultural and social landscape.
Also, what does it mean for the "nation as a whole" to have rights? What is the right that a nation has in this case?
I mean society as a whole. The right of people to go about their business with minimal risk to their health and well-being. At the moment the interpretation of the 2nd amendment means it is essentially impossible to enact change so citizens countrywide are at increased risk of being involved in a gun related incident.
Did you notice that if you remove suicides, you lose about 60% of the gun deaths (at least in the US)?
Yes but the homicide only figures are still way different to nations with a different gun ownership culture, as is the rate of ownership. We have suicides here but I would bet money that the rate would increase if more people had access to a gun.
The vast majority of gun owners are not in a militia. They are just people, like the kind that got shot up the other day.
Understood. I was just pointing out that this is another aspect of the culture towards guns in the US where you can have a heavily armed militia of quasi soldiers that can operate completely within the law but outside the control of the law enforcement or military authorities, yet no one bats an eyelid. No one is the least bit concerned that in principle a nationwide private army could be put together completely legally. No one is concerned that a group can walk the streets carrying battlefield ready hardware and it's entirely down to the organisation of the group as to how well trained and disciplined they are.
I would wager that the argument against that is that "well we don't have to worry about some dodgy militia because we have another militia who are the good guys and they've got loads of feck off guns" or "I better get myself a feck off gun so no fecker comes and take my stuff". Until this cultural approach changes then nothing will change.