I AM an American, and have lived in Scotland for nearly 10 years.

During most of this time, I have been relatively well-tolerated, despite being obviously primitive and uncivilised.

I am not surprised at the tone of the correspondents on your Letters Pages who describe Americans as being Neanderthals with guns (Letters, December 17 & 18). Some people still haven't got their heads round the 236 years that have elapsed since the Declaration of Independence.

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There is also a fundamental error in saying that the right to own a gun is protected in the Constitution. That right is protected in Article II of the Bill of Rights, and addresses gun ownership with the presumption that the owner would be part of a "well regulated militia". The Bill of Rights is the first 10 of the amendments to the Constitution, after which remarkably few have been required. I believe this fact supports the idea that the Constitution itself has been a remarkably durable document during American history, however short some readers may construe that history to be. Amendments to the American Constitution are provided for in Article V of the original document. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives), can propose an amendment. For an amendment to be ratified, legislatures of three-fourths of the states would have to vote in favour of it.

It is very easy for people over here to write :"The right to bear arms is far too deeply ingrained in the American psyche, as anyone who has wandered around a supermarket in the US can testify." Change a few strategic words around and the sentence becomes "The right to drink alcohol to excess is far too deeply ingrained in the Scottish psyche, as anyone who has wandered around a supermarket in Scotland can testify." Oh, to see ourselves as others see us, civilised or not.

Jane Crawford,

Prospect Terrace, Lossiemouth.

ROSEMARY Goring writes in a fine article: "In 1791 when the Second Amendment, empowering all citizens to own guns, was written, America was carving out its own territory" ("Americans' right to bear arms is such a relic", The Herald, December 17).

The bearing-of-arms doctrine played a formidable role in the carving out of territory mainly in the decimation of the native population.

Prior to European settlement (1500) the territory known now as the US had a population of 12 million native Americans. On completion of the "carving" (1900) the various clans/tribes had been reduced to 237,000.

The Winchester and the Colt along with disease, slavery and starvation made the American clearances one of the most significant acts of historical genocide.

There is in man a residual violence in the deep recesses of his passion that, when conjoined with the ubiquitous nature of guns in American society, leads almost inevitably to incidents such as Sandy Hook.

Thom Cross,

64 Market Place,