President Obama has expressed frustration verging on anger at the ‘numbed’ response to the college shooting in Oregon Thursday. The gunman, named as Chris Harper Mercer, was shot dead by police after the rampage at an adult education college, killing nine and injuring seven.

In 1987, in the provincial town of Hungerford in England, an allegedly Terminator-obsessed Michael Ryan walked through the sleepy town calmly and systematically firing at people, killing sixteen people and wounding fifteen more before turning his semi-automatic rifle on himself. While motive for the massacre remains unclear, the availability of Kalashnikov rifles with minimal background checks was a matter of common sense to most.

Directly following this event, a report was commissioned by the Conservative UK Home Secretary at the time, Douglas Hurd. The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 was passed, which bans the ownership of semi-automatic centre-fire rifles and restricts the use of shotguns with a capacity of more than three cartridges.

This was in a country with extremely tight gun controls already. Since then, the incidents rack up in an almost monthly tally in the US, and responsibility is put onto mental illness, popular culture, bullying or other social issues – but the National Rifle Association (NRA) seems to ignore the fact that you don’t often see people stabbing each other to death due to the ease of availability of kitchen knives.

There is a theory that these random shootings are carried out by the anti-gun lobby, to sway public opinion into accepting tighter legislation on firearms.

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The thinking is that then there will be less armed resistance when martial law is imposed. Not sure how we will handle martial law when it's imposed in the UK - presumably with sticks, stones and the quill.

Time will tell (while there is not much left for him in office) whether Obama can enable his country to be more internally peaceful before his term is over next year – and if the NRA establishment will accept any culpability for this grim trend or not.