A grim inevitability hangs over news of another American mass shooting. From the anguish of victims’ families to the intransigence of gun rights supporters, the sense prevails that nothing can, or will, ever change when it comes to US gun laws. It’s a reality writ large since the horrifying 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, an event so shocking yet one that still failed to break opposition to gun law reform, despite the best efforts of the then-vice president Joe Biden.
Now Biden is in the Oval Office with a fresh mandate and a weakened pro-gun lobby before him. In the light of two recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado, Ed Pilkington traces the Groundhog Day nature of America’s gun reform debate. Then, Guardian US gun crime reporters Abené Clayton and Lois Beckett deliver a damning verdict on why everything about America’s national discourse on firearms reform is wrong.
In Britain, politicians of all stripes have long pressed the national flag into service to unite the nation, but its use as a stage prop or on official buildings is increasingly divisive. Tim Adams looks at the ironies of the UK government’s efforts to wrap itself in the flag at a time when Brexit has made the dissolution of the union more likely than ever.
As the Covid pandemic kicked in last year, Germany was held up as a model of civic adherence to lockdown restrictions – yet its insistence on propriety has now seen it fall behind in the mass vaccination drive. As tensions rise, Philip Oltermann reports on a moment of introspection for the EU’s powerhouse state.
While London’s centre remains becalmed by Covid restrictions, trouble is brewing in its suburbs. A radical, government-backed road closure scheme has sought to reclaim side streets for cyclists and pedestrians, shunting motor traffic back on to main arteries. With residents divided about the success of the low-traffic zones, Niamh McIntyre investigates whether they can bring about real change in urban transport habits – or if a raft of upcoming legal challenges will leave them by the wayside.
Finally, how many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a brand? In Culture, as Bob Dylan nears his 80th birthday, Neil Spencer reflects on how the pop poet from Minnesota bridged the gap between academia and pop, turning his musical career into a world-conquering industry.
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