Thank God it's Friday

4th June 1999 at 01:00
Monday My thesis is finally finished - it's the oral tomorrow, and I'm dreading it. My thesis shows that the more children have been around guns in childhood, the more likely they are to own or carry guns in adolescence. I know one committee member is pro-gun, and am not looking forward to his questions.

Tuesday After general chit-chat, the pro-gun guy pushes me on the policy implications of my thesis. "Guns shouldn't be normal to kids," I reply. "But plenty of people go hunting when they're younger, and don't grow up to be psychopaths. It's a bonding experience for fathers and sons," he counters.

I smile. "Yes, but can't they go to baseball games instead?" He lets me off the hook, and they pass me. I run home to find my room-mate watching TV. "Have you seen the news?" she asks.

While I have been defending my thesis, two young gunmen have run rampage in a school in Colorado. By the time I reach home, 15 are dead.

WEDNESday Several professors stop me to comment on the irony of my thesis being completed on the day of the worst American school shooting in history.

Every channel runs non-stop coverage from Columbine. One man blames gun control. He says if children and teachers could carry guns in school, someone could have stopped the shooters.

I am sick to my stomach and ditch my plans to celebrate my thesis being finished.

THURSday I can't believe that in the wake of such horror, some people are calling for more guns. I ask my supervisor, who specialises in juvenile delinquency, why there are between 200 and 400 million guns in the States today. He says there are many people in the country, and a lot of guns - and things like this will happen. This seems a poor answer.

FRIday A friend finally persuades me we should go out for a drink to celebrate. We go to the local off-licence, but Pierre, (who's 37) has forgotten his ID. So I show my passport. The guy looks at it, and asks for extra identification - he's worried the passport could be my sister's. After I show him my student ID as well, he finally sells us the beer.

So this week I've learned you need two forms of ID to buy a beer, but at shows throughout the country, guns are sold, no questions asked. You can't go into a bar if you're under 21, but in gun shops everywhere, there are toddlers in pushchairs. You can buy a shotgun at the age of 18, but no beer until you're 21. The land of the free?

Abigail Moriarty is completing a Masters degree in sociology at the University of Georgia, Athens, United States

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