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Saturday 15 December 2012

Newtown School Shooting – NRA Silent

[Update at end of post]

After the shooting in Tucson, AZ when a federal judge was killed and Rep Gabrielle Giffords, the target of the attack, was critically injured, there was a call to put down the guns, and the gun metaphors, political campaigning having become heavily charged with their like over the preceding years. Maybe the politicians did put down the gun metaphors, but the guns kept on being fired.

And the citizens kept being killed and injured: only last July, at a cinema in Aurora, CO eleven were killed and many more wounded after a gunman threw gas grenades into the auditorium before loosing off his weapons. The inevitable suggestions from the gun lobby that, if only more of those present had been armed, one or more could have taken the shooter out, were predictable and pointless.

Why so? Well, after the gas grenades had gone off, nobody could see the gunman, and in any case he was wearing body armour. And now has come another multiple fatal shooting, this time at what those Stateside call an elementary school, what we in the UK call a primary school. Twenty little children no older than ten years old were gunned down. Many more were injured or traumatised.

The USA has been here before: there was another shooting, at Columbine High School, back in 1999, an episode which led campaigner Michael Moore to confront Charlton Heston, staunch champion of gun rights and hugely popular with the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), as part of his film Bowling For Columbine. The NRA did not so much as pause for thought.

Well, they have this time: the NRA Twitter feed went very quiet yesterday afternoon and has yet to give any reaction to the events at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, CT. But the NRA will be speaking up as soon as the initial shock and revulsion has died down, excusing not merely the provisions of the Second Amendment, but also the legitimacy of citizens packing all manner of high powered guns.

And that is what those of us in the UK can’t comprehend: what need is there for anyone to own assault rifles, machine pistols, or anything else that can deliver more than half a dozen rounds? What need is there for some citizens to indulge in a kind of macabre arms race? In 2009, there were over 10,000 gun related homicides in the US. There were 63 in the UK. That’s an approximately 30-fold difference.

How many more times will a President have to repeat Barack Obama’s words from yesterday? “As a country we have been through this too many times ... Our hearts are broken today, for the parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers of these children, and for the families of the adults who were lost”. Mayor Bloomberg of New York wants leadership on the issue. I have a suggestion for him.

Let’s see the NRA show some leadership for once.

[UPDATE 1810 hours: for those reading in the UK to get some idea of the sheer wilfulness of gun advocates in the USA, here is a segment from yesterday evening's CNN Piers Morgan Tonight, where the host gets very clearly fed up with one panellist who is dissembling and suggesting that the way to stop the shootings is to get rid of existing restrictions on where citizens can carry guns.
He sticks to his script despite Morgan's, and the two other studio panellists', interventions. He does not accept that a primary school teacher owning semi-automatic weapons is unreasonable. This panellist is typical of the gun lobby. Note also that he asserts that gun murders in the UK have increased dramatically as a result of the post-Dunblane handgun ban]

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