IN early September I was in North Carolina visiting family members. An opportunity arose to visit the town of Eden which is approximately the size of Devizes. Walking along the main street I couldn’t help noticing that, where in British towns of similar size there would be businesses trading in harmless and “safe” goods, there was a gun shop buying and selling firearms.

I made a mental note to recall seeing the ease with which Americans can obtain firearms across the counter in their local main street when there was another mass shooting in the USA. Well, I didn’t have long to wait, did I?

The Las Vegas massacre cost the lives of 59 and wounded more than 500, making it one of the worst in an ever-growing list of American multiple death gun crimes in recent times. This happened just days after I was witnessing a gun shop in small town USA doing a roaring trade in legal but lethal firearms.

American society is split right down the middle on the question of firearms. Everyone from the President downwards can be heard expressing horror and revulsion at what happened in Las Vegas but that is where the unity stops. There seemed to me to be just as many Americans wishing to protect their right to carry arms as there are calling for tighter gun controls. I can see no rapid and simple solution to their problem. Atrocities like Las Vegas will continue to occur.

I was still in the USA when the recent terrorist incident happened on a London tube train. I was fascinated to see Fox News TV channel broadcasting an interview with Nigel Farage who was condemning the UK government for not issuing firearms to all British police officers and for reducing the number of British bobbies by 6,000 at a time when the terrorist threat was increasing and armed troops were being used on our streets.

The comments from the American news presenters made it clear that, having been fed with Nigel Farage’s view, they could not understand our reluctance to putting more firearms onto our streets. Thanks to Mr Farage the viewers of that news item would almost certainly draw the conclusion that America was getting it right and the UK was getting it wrong.

It wasn’t very long ago that a local man became upset with his solicitor and walked into his office in the centre of Devizes with a gun and shot him, causing fatal wounds. Gun crimes do happen here too. There should therefore be no room for complacency in how we view the matter of gun control.

Of the 33,000 annual deaths involving firearms in the USA, research has shown that the perpetrators in most cases could be seen to be exhibiting behaviour indicating some form of psychosis that made them become a potential danger if they had access to a firearm.

There is a need for early intervention in situations where treatment for mental illness could prevent the deaths and possibly many others who become innocent victims of the mentally ill person. Sadly, our mental health services are in crisis.

I feel strongly that we must continue to stringently and effectively control who is allowed to have a firearm. Additionally, we must invest in getting our mental health services back on their feet.

As for arming all police officers, I prefer to listen to the advice from chief constables rather than Mr Farage.

Let us pray for America to find a solution to the gun problem it has created for itself.