December 17, 2012
Horse 1416 - The Lives of 20 Children Will Change Nothing
20 children, the knave who shot them, his mother who owned the guns and five other members of staff. A community is in mourning; people's lives have been utterly affected forever but the American response to all this has been typically American.
Gun and bullet sales spiked on the weekend of 15th and 16th of December and talkback radio has been awash with calls announcing that the government isn't going to take away their "freedom".
America will do what America always does. There will be the obligatory three week period of flailing, wailing and self-flagellation in the media and someone will talk about the mythical notion of "closure" (as though this thing magically heals all wounds. The truth is that people sometimes never find happiness again, their lives just redefine 'normal'). After last memorial service, the media will get bored and move on to the next thing, nothing will have changed even an iota and on average, in 173 days time (so about the 30th May 2013) another gun man will lay bullets into another two dozen people. Thus the merry-go-round continues on its way.
America decided a long time ago that the acceptable price of this particular blessing of liberty was necessary to form a more perfect union. When the NRA unashamedly appears in the political campaign and both candidates for the presidency promised to keep the Second Amendment values strong, you can be fairly sure that they're not going to do anything about this in a hurry. At some point after September 11, even the wording of discussion changed. No longer were people talking of "gun control" but "gun rights".
Mind you, this is a nation where the right to bear and keep arms is explicitly defended in the constitution but the right to even basic health care is vociferously argued against. Never mind a great number of hospital admissions in America is as a direct result of the operation of those rights.
America has a basic lack of self-control on an immensely huge scale. More money is spent on potato chips (just chips; not including other snackfoods) than is spent on healthcare. The biggest single cause of death in the United States is "diet related diseases" (read obesity), so it seems to me that if people can't be generally trusted to show self-control when it comes to the correct and proper moderation of the usage of a fork, then obviously it follows that they'll be equally untrustworthy in the correct and proper moderation of the usage of instruments of death.
A spokesman from the White House said that:
"Today is not the day to talk about gun control. There is, I am sure, will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I do not think today is that day."
- Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary. 15th Dec, 2012.
Of course he is right about this. Now is not the time to speak about this issue. The time should have been yesterday, or twenty years ago, or maybe when the United States set up a full time military. The framers of the constitution I'll bet never conceived that the ability to blow apart dozens of people at a go would end up in the hands of ordinary people - 18th century legislation is hideously ill-equipped to deal with 20th let alone 21st century technology. Meanwhile the President himself has said precisely zero on the issue because if he does, he's likely to find himself becoming the fifth president to be assassinated.
The NRA for their part are conspicuous by their silence. Their official Twitter account which usually spends its days happily ripping into anything which threatens to "take away our freedoms", has been completely silent since this tragedy. It has since come to light that two of the weapons used, actually won NRA awards for 2011.
NRA’s newsstand monthly: Rifle of the Year, Bushmaster ACR; Shotgun of the Year, Remington Model 887 Nitro Mag Tactical; Handgun of the Year, SIG Sauer P226 E2;
- From the NRA website, 27th Dec 2010
The AP reported that the Sauer at 0.223 was caliber of the rifle used and curiously "Guns & Ammo" mag thought that it was the "Best Home Defense Caliber".
Military-style rifles have always been popular in this country, but since September 11, 2001, the sales of the AR15 and its clones have skyrocketed—just look at how many companies are making them now. There are a number of factors behind this—increased exposure to the weapon system via media, fears of terrorism and the realization of just how fun the darn things are to shoot.
- Guns & Ammo magazine, 10th Feb 2012
It all makes sense now. This was an informed purchase based on recommendations from such law abiding organisations like the NRA. Obviously it must be "fun" to empty rounds of fire into children.
Maybe that's why they've said nothing. I don't think that the NRA collectively feels either guilt or responsibility for this but the fact that they'd publish such remarks indicates to me that they're a bunch of loonies.
The NRA successfully lobbied the US Government to allow the Federal Assault Weapons ban expire in 2004 and on July 20 this year, James Holmes emptied bullets into a crowded movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12; injuring 71, with a weapon which was formerly banned.
Personally I think that the NRA should be designated as a terrorist organisation. Al-Qaeda killed just over 6000 people in the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001; since then roughly 138,000 people have been killed by people with so-called "freedom" in the United States.
I think that the most truthful comment in the media came from former Prime Minister John Howard:
There is more to this than merely the lobbying strength of the National Rifle Association and the proximity of the November presidential election. It is hard to believe that their reaction would have been any different if the murders in Aurora had taken place immediately after the election of either Obama or Romney. So deeply embedded is the gun culture of the US, that millions of law-abiding, Americans truly believe that it is safer to own a gun, based on the chilling logic that because there are so many guns in circulation, one's own weapon is needed for self-protection. To put it another way, the situation is so far gone there can be no turning back.
- Former Prime Minister John Howard, SMH, 16th Dec 2012.
Whatever you say about his politics, he expresses a pragmatism which however tragic they are, cut clear to the centre of this.
Although the United States puts "In God We Trust" on its coins, it kicks Him out of its government institutions, yells to the point of stupidity at any mention of Him but loves to violate the Seventh Commandment repeatedly. It then hoards 286 million weapons to defend its freedoms. Clearly if where one's treasure is, there also your heart will be, then the United States should seriously consider changing the inscription on its coins to reflect reality.
So much for the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Posted by Rollo at 09:39