Monday, December 17, 2012

 

Surely Even the NRA Must Accept Gun Control Now?

It's often said we don't realise how different we are from the USA and the awful Newtown, Conneticutt School killings illustrate this dramatically. It's true we have outbreaks of mentally unbalanced killers also. I can think of Dunblane, Hungerford and Cumbria; but in the USA similar outbreaks have happened, during this year in Georgia, Ohio, Pittsburg, Oklahoma, Minneapolis, and Texas. Add to that all the others we have empathetically mourned in Columbine, the Virginia Tech and so forth and we caqn see a difference in scale which must be truly worrying to everyone living in the USA, let alone ther incumbent in the White House.

One of Obama's weaknesses it seems to me has been an unwonted timidity in confronting political vested interests. It has long been a founding axiom of US politics that you don't challenge the National Rifle Associatioon (NRA). This corporate lobbyist has been amazingly successful in exterting a baleful
influence over presidential candidates, convincing them that gun ownership is a right written into the constitution- famously madly difficult to amend- as well as wholesomely American as apple pie. In every presidential election I can remember Democratic candidates have run scared of the NRA and either sidestepped the issue or embraced gun ownership in a way the NRA would approve.

And American people are so unbelievably barmy over this issue. I remember after the Virginia Tech Massacre I posted suggesting that surely now strict controls would be introduced. I received a number comments from the US -I never knew my blog was so scrutinised- accusing me of being a 'Nazi' for suggesting such an UnAmerican limitation of freedom. Rational debate on this crucial issue seems not to have been possible. Bill Clinton managed to achieve a ban on semi-automatic weapons- the kind most often used in such killing sprees- but George Bush refused to renew it when he was in power. Such weapons are banned in the UK and restricted to the military in most parts of Europe.         .

There were 200,million privately owned firearms in USA in 2009 and in that year 11,500 firearms related deaths In the same year, in the UK the figure was..er...41. Obama has made a tentative move towards a new attempt at gun control- God knows Americans need to support it- and maybe, given the raw feelings and national mourning, a national consensus will emerge in favour of it. But to the NRA, money is more important than the lives of American children: their response was to criticise the fact that teachers were not allowed to have guns available to shoot back at such crazed killers when they arrive in the classroom. 

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