Horrible, revolting, sad and unexplainable, or is it? The news of yet another mass shooting of young students in the USA has shocked the world and sent the USA into a tail spin about the inalienable right of Americans to possess guns. I ask---is this latest slaughter, this time in a state that one would not expect such slaughter so unexpected? Connecticut is hardly a ‘red neck’ state.
The debate about gun ownership in America is a passionate one; adherents to that right to bear arms spread across the social divide. Each time we hear about another incident, the debate is renewed. Some claim the right to bear arms goes right back to the formation of the American Constitution. They claim that such a right allows them to defend themselves against danger, and perhaps equally important, the right to defend their rights against an overzealous or tyrannical Government.
This has spawned other groups who claim that they too have had an historical right to own and use arms for personal defence and for that very American sport, of hunting. At the time of the Constitutional formation, those reasons may have been valid, but in a modern and very much more populated America, those reasons seem only to make life more dangerous.
Having said the above, we must also look beyond the USA as other countries also have mass killings. In New Zealand we are not immune from mass slaughter as we too have a high gun ownership regime, albeit not as high as the USA. We have an energetic group of hunters and farmers who own weapons and of the course the criminal element of our population has always had and probably always will have access to weapons. There is something different about the USA; something entrenched in the psyche of the country. I do not believe that a large majority of Americans agree with their strong ‘gun lobby,’ but that later group has huge influence in the USA, far outweighing their actual numbers.
I suspect that even with this latest massacre, nothing will change in the USA. The usual ‘voices’ will plead for change and the same old network that supports the ‘gun lobby’ will force their will on politicians and the guns will still be relatively easy to obtain.
When there is historical justification for a policy or ‘right,’ then such constitutional rights become entrenched. Children will continue to die and communities will continue to be ripped apart. No amount of input from psychologists, teachers, community leaders and others ‘speaking out’ will change this insidious blot on American society. I fear for the people of the USA as their population increases and the stresses of everyday life become even more apparent. It takes little to light the flame of hate or frustration; thereby making it almost inevitable that we will continue to see the slaughter in Connecticut replicated in other towns and cities in the USA.
The President will speak with passion but nothing will change unless the people on mass line up behind him to work for change. If anyone can, Obama can.
PS. I just watched the president speak. He had tears and as a father of two daughters, he must be thinking of those families who have lost young ones. Use those tears to bring about change, Mr President.