A protestor holds up an anti-NRA sign.

The saddest thing about the pathetic statement by the NRA is the fact that nothing will now change.

Had they agreed to controls on the most deadly of weapons, some progress could have been made, but the political will in America does not exist to challenge them.

America is effectively ruled by the guns they control.

Because what is it the Second Amendment really guarantees?

In the wake of the Newton massacre last weekend, I sat beside broadcaster Tom McGuirk in an RTE radio studio.

At various points McGuirk suggested that AR-10 guns weren’t the problem, until I politely suggested that there was one thing that could have been removed from the Newton massacre that would have ensured the survival of all or most of those children – the gun.

Moments later McGuirk was talking about the importance of the British secret service and their role in the “defeat” of the IRA.

But given their modus operandi, the IRA and the NRA are not too disimilar – unelected, both nevertheless have a chilling effect on the democracies they exist in.

Like the bible, the American constitution is a document of its time, and when it was written the fledgling nation was intent on doing everything it could to protect its new-found freedom.

Hence the right to defend those freedoms – even against its own government – was enshrined in a dubioulsy-worded amendent. Noticeably, assault rifles are not mentioned, which according to some gives them carte blanche to carry them.

For what the Second Amendment essentially does is give the NRA the right to act as the American equivalent of the IRA, a kind of secretive political police force that malevolently oversees things.

Unelected, it can use fear and intimidation to exert its influence on an otherwise democratic state – much as the IRA did in its “armed struggle”.

For the gun in American history and its current politics is not about violence or machoism, even though both play their part.

For Americans, the gun is a potent symbol of freedom, rather than oppression and death. If ever there was a country that was now ruled with a ballot box and an Armalite (or one of 300 million similar weapons), America is it.

The Europeans who sailed across the Atlantic to settle on the American continet were all fleeing something. Sometimes, as in the case of the Irish, it was hunger. For others, it was religious persecution.

Some of them wanted no truck with any church; instead, they reserved the right to interpret the bible as literally and as opportunistically as they wished.

The same people now choose to interpret the American constitution in the same way Рthe way that suits them best, much as Irish Republicans twisted their  interpretation of history until it allowed them to bomb and shoot and maim with impunity over almost 40 years.

The discussion in America should not, therefore, centre on gun control; the discussion should centre on how to rebuild trust between the state and its citizens – if such a thing never existed.

It is doubtful that it can be done; American politics is a poisonous mass of extremism, thanks to divisive issues and elements such as abortion, the various wars fought in Asia, the Tea Party and gun control itself.

America is a nation of vested interests that are quick to act should Johnny Sixpack suddenly start demanding safety and security.

That many of the fears propagated by politicians and squawk-box commentators are unfounded make no difference; America has never seemed to have established for itself that solidarity and security go hand in hand.

It is easier to blame the nameless, faceless other than to face up to the truth.

But to do so would be to acknowledge that the Europe its forefathers left had gotten something right.

“War is over, if you want it,” sang John Lennon.

But it appears that, despite 20 dead children, the aftermath of the War of Independence, because the NRA don’t want it.