The Conneticut school massacre was yet another reminder that the US urgently needs to address the excessively easy availability of firearms. Guns can be purchased by almost anyone in the United States and very cheaply at that. Further, background checks are minimal and only apply when buying from a dealer. Second hand sales are not regulated. One can acquire firearms which are of a military grade.
Time and again such horrific incidents occur. Unless firm action is taken it is virtually guaranteed that such crimes will recur ad nauseam.
I can see a little merit in some of the arguments against restricting firearms. One can still kill with a knife or baseball bat. One can kill with one’s bare hands. There are 300 000 000 guns in the United States – almost one for every inhabitant. Are those guns to be taken away/ That is impractical. Crimes can still be committed with guns that are already in circulation.
Of course gun control will not elminiate crime but such a policy can radically reduce it. It is true that murder can be committed with other weapons but at the moment a gun is the weapon of choice for a murderer. Killing with a gun is easy and can be done at a distance. It takes more rage or self control to kill with a knife – a close up weapon. This is partly why murders with those weapons happen less frequently. Guns are easy to use for a mass killing.
In order to make Americans safe some reasonably abridgments of gun rights are called for. All sorts of other rights are limited. The right to freedom of expression is limited under law – sometimes in a reasonable way and sometimes in an unreasonable way. Gun nuts use the thin end of the wedge argument. They say that to permit even the tiniest limitation on their right to carry guns will lead inexorably to the total abolition of gun rights. This is the absolutist fallacy and is seldom applied by the same people to other issues.
The Democrats in the US respect reasonable gun rights. John Kerry was keen to be seen carrying a gun in the 2004 election. He took the photo opportunity to show he is pro-guns. He claimed to have shot a Canada goose. There is no footage of him doing so. The Republicans tend to be crazily pro-guns. They are in the pocket of the NRA. Colin Powell has the valour to be in favour of sensible gun control – he has not spelt out precisely what he means by this. He is one of the few Republicans to take this stance.
The National Rifle Association will do all it can to stop any reform. They propose arming the teachers. I can see how disciplinary situations would get out of hand. Moreover, armed guards are teachers will probably only shoot once the killer has started his slaughter spree.
The US has perhaps the laxest gun laws on the planet. It has one of the highest murder rates of any rich country. This is not murder due to poverty as in Honduras or South Africa. The United States can do far better to tackle this enormous problem.
The terrorist threat has been massively exaggerated because that suited the agendas of the mighty. It is inconvenient for some to confront the gun menace which represents a far greater peril to the US than terrorism does. The spree killers are motivated by personal grudges and a craving for infamy more than by a political or religious cause so they are not terrorists as generally understood. #
The NRA suggested better mental healthcare as a solution. This would be good in any case – even if the US had no history of gun massacres. The fact that there are many mass killings linked to mental illness makes dealing with this problem a matter of major importance. But providing good mental healthcare does not solve the issue on its own and is only part of the solution. A multipronged approach is needed.
I saw an American talk show and I cannot remember the name of it. One statistic came up. The US with 300 million people has about 10 000 gun homicides a year, Japan with 150 million has about 20. The major difference? The easy availability of guns in the US.
Scapegoating rap music does not wash. People can be influenced by all the gansta rap in the world but if a disaffected youth cannot put his hand on a gun then he can do little damage,