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Radio News Bulletin
The right to bear arms
18 December 2012 | 7:44 | Source:
Just 24 hours later, there were 20 children dead, all of them shot multiple times with an automatic weapon by a gunman exercising his “right to bear arms”, the NRA’s very reason for being.
This is third time this year this column has addressed an incident involving mass deaths, all caused by sole gunmen armed with automatic weapons, in the United States.
In July, a gunman killed 12 people at a cinema in Colorado, using an AR-15 assault weapon. At that time, I wrote: “You may be detecting a theme”. Little did I know just how this theme would develop.
It’s tragic that it is possible to cut and paste what was written then for it is almost word-for-word so appropriate now. One point still strongly resonates. The NRA’s anti-control stance is built on an amendment to the US Constitution that interprets the call for an “organised militia” as a right to own assault weapons.
But, again, how many of the now-dead children from Newtown, Connecticut, should have died in support of that so-called right to bear arms?
How many people anywhere need to die to support that so-called right?
Give me a number. Which is more important? Those lives? Or that right?
The NRA has gone quiet since the shooting last Friday. At the time of writing, we’ve heard nothing from the organization that claims to be a leader on gun advocacy.
Perhaps, it’s awaiting the subsidence in emotional responses to the deaths of 20 small town kids and their teachers. Perhaps, the organisation and the backyard owners of assault weapons are thinking this will blow over and we can all go back to “normal”.
But it’s entirely possible that the 27 people, young and old, are the exact number needed to address an issue apparently too hard to deal with. There is a solid theme emerging from Connecticut that enough is enough and that American politicians, supported by the NRA, may not be able to resist change in laws any longer.
Here’s a list of some of those politicians, with the relatively small amounts of money they have received from the NRA during the last election, that allow the lobby group such influence in Washington.
President Obama was so visibly shaken by the Newtown event that he shed tears addressing the nation on Friday afternoon in the immediate aftermath of the shootings. By Sunday, he’d thought about what may lay ahead politically.
He smartly introduced the idea of addressing gun violence and gun laws head on and did so in a way that many will find difficult to argue with. It’s not about your right to own an assault weapon. This issue is about to be framed as “protecting children”. Tough to argue against.
But these massacres are not just about guns. They’re also about mental health. They’re also about the culture of violence. It’s also about a trail of dead.
I defy any person, or representative of any organisation, to read this long list of names of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School and not argue that something significant has to change. Lists like those cannot get longer.