SOME statistics. There are more guns in America than there are people. This year shooting outpaced car accidents or drugs as the commonest cause of death in America’s children. The latest shooter was allowed by law to buy a semi automatic weapon as soon as he was 18. He did so at 18 and one day. At 18 and a couple of days more he killed a lot of little children. At 18 and a couple of days more he was dead.

America, land of the free, home of the brave, home of a gun culture which causes the kind of routine carnage which ­somehow fails to result in any meaningful gun ­control measures. Home of the ­National Rifle ­Association, a campaign ­organisation which exerts extraordinary influence on Republican senators whom it lobbies and funds thanks to the subscriptions of its members.

Ten years ago, after little children were mown down at Sandy Hook primary school in Connecticut, a crime so sickening you felt some action was inevitable, the NRA president opined that there was only one way to beat a bad man with a gun and that was a good man with a gun.

Except that the perpetrators are rarely known bad men. They’re usually disturbed teens fixated on some sort of persecution complex. Teens who should never be near a water pistol let alone battle grade ­weaponry.

Yet still American lawmakers resist the call to have even minimal background checks on gun buyers. Resist upping the age limit. Resist bringing back the laws on restricting access to such deadly weapons which lapsed in 2004.

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Some 23 years ago, after yet another rogue shooter at Columbine High School in Colorado, the NRA were due to have their annual jamboree in nearby Denver. They went ahead. This weekend, after the latest massacre of the innocent in rural Texas, the NRA have gone ahead with their annual jamboree in Houston, Texas.

Some 26 years ago in March, a man walked into a primary school in Dunblane, with legally held, less powerful handguns and 18 people were shot dead, including himself. One year later there was a partial ban on most guns in the UK. The year after that a more extensive one. The gun lobby squealed here too. But both John Major’s and Tony Blair’s governments chose ­instead to hear the weeping of the bereaved.

Four years ago in March, a gunman went into a Mosque in New Zealand ­killing ­worshippers. The government there ­reacted by banning the sale of almost all assault weapons. Their Prime ­Minister, Jacinda Ardern, put it simply when she visited Harvard to give a lecture last week: “We saw something that wasn’t right and we acted on it.”

And later, on US TV she added: “Now we have legitimate needs for guns in our country for things like pest control and to protect our biodiversity. But you don’t need a military style semi automatic to do that.” Quite.

THE National Rifle Association, in the name of protecting the second amendment to the US constitution, is an accessory before and after the fact of so much devastation in that country. They spent £14m in the last 15 months throwing money at those election candidates on whom they rely to keep this appalling gun culture alive.

All but 1% of that money went into Republican coffers. Though it has to be admitted that the Democrats give good handwringing without being able to ­follow through in the legislative way ­needed to halt these serial tragedies.

This second amendment was passed in 1791 and said the following: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

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It reflected the fears of that time when the founding fathers of a country still in its infancy, a mere 15 years after winning independence, were concerned that either a British or rogue American party would seize power again.

And it envisaged a “well regulated ­militia”, consisting in those days of a small company bearing single shot rifles, could, in extremis, defend their local state.

There is nothing “well regulated” about lone gunmen carrying weapons designed for modern warfare into schools and ­campuses and perpetrating a mass killing in response, not to a democratic threat, but to the demons in their own deranged mind.

So this “right to bear arms” was ­never the sacred right of everyone from ­teenagers to housewives to maniacal ­fruitcakes to buy and hoard enough firepower to wipe out half their neighbourhood. It was ­never the sacred right of American families to have enough weapons in their house to arm the average army platoon.

Last Christmas, a Kentucky ­Republican Congressman somehow felt it ­ appropriate to pose in front of his ­decorated tree with his family all ­smiling winningly and all cradling semi ­automatic weapons. ­Thomas Massie also had a ­message for Santa “please bring ammo”. Since there had been a school ­shooting just four days previously, you might ­wonder what ­manner of insanity ­prompted this.

But Congressman Massie was upset that others were upset. He doubled down by tweeting his messages of support. I don’t doubt that these missives were real, because America’s love affair with guns has become a very serious infatuation.

Contemporary America is a place those founding fathers, authors of what they thought was a backstop protecting their fledgling democracy, would neither ­recognise nor endorse.

A place where the response to school shooting has been to provide drills for ­little children, telling them how to hide and respond if “a bad man with a gun” ­arrives on the premises. A place where the Texan senator Ted Cruz, the day ­after this latest atrocity, said armed guards are the obvious answer. Can you image ­walking your primary school child past armed guards to classes which now have swift locking devices?

When a Democratic opponent ­demurred he had the gall to suggest the latter was politicising and “weaponising” the shooting!

Cruz is sick. His country is sick. The NRA is very sick. And you will be less than gobsmacked to learn that Senator Cruz and former ­President Trump are among the invited speakers at the NRA’s conference this weekend.

They will send thoughts. They will ­offer prayers. Though heaven alone knows what kind of God they imagine is on the side of facilitating little children’s deaths.

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After Sandy Hook, as a nation mourned, there was a conspiracy theorist who posted many videos assuring his fellow Americans that the school shooting was a fabrication. Something got up by actors to help left wingers who wanted to pursue a gun control agenda.

Even just after tiny coffins had been lowered into adjoining graves, he felt able to desecrate the ceremonies celebrating their short lives. They were in first grade. The equivalent of primary one.

It took till November of last year for Alex Jones, now gawd help us, a US ­media “star”, to be held to partial account in a court action brought by some of the ­heartbroken families. His defence team are still withholding evidence.

Imagine, if you will, the piling of ­misery upon misery as you grieve your small child yet countless followers of this ­madman harass you for staging your own son or daughter’s death. It is some ­distance ­beyond despicable.

Every time little children die in the one place where they and their ­teachers should feel most safe, someone in ­government will say “never again”. ­Someone will say this heartbreak must surely be the last. It won’t be. Not until enough legislators ­acknowledge a truth evidenced all over the world – unless you control gun sales, you will never control violent, needless murders.

Unless and until you dismantle the gun culture, you are complicit in those ­murders.