Monday, 10 January 2011

The Arizona American Tragedy - Gun Control (and the lack of it)

The Arizona shootings have been a tragedy for America.

Not only have 6 innocent civilians been killed and a Congresswomen who was apparently the initial target of the attack been left in a critical condition in hospital, but one of those killed, 9 year old Christina Taylor Green was actually born on September 11th 2001. She had been featured in a book 'Fifty Faces of Hope' about some of the children born on that horrific day.

Political Extremism
The question exorcising many commentators around the world at the moment is 'why did this happen?'. Peter Black in hig blog here, commenting on an article in yesterday's The Observor, makes the point that the heightened tension in the US political arena, stoked by the rheotic of the Tea Party movement may have a role to play. But whilst I vehemently detest Sarah Palin, her extremist views and the way in which she inflames the tensions with her words, we can not presume that this in itself led to the incident on Saturday.

Yes, the political climate in the USA is now as bad, as polluted and as toxic as it probably ever has been but then we've had public shootings and massacres in the USA for years and years and years.

We must be careful, until we get the full facts, to not point accusing fingers, as much as the pit of our stomach would wish us to do so immediately.

The US Gun Lobby and a Sorry Story of 2nd Ammendment US Annihilation
The wider issue here comes back to the question of gun control and the strong belief held by many in the US of their right to bear arms as expressed in the 2nd ammendment to the US constitution as a part of the United States Bill of Rights.

As it reads: ."A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

Well, taking the emotion out of it and looking at the bare facts, there have been 104 incidents of school shootings in the USA. There have only been 37 such similar incidents in the rest of the entire world (presuming that this information is 100% accurate).

The only incident of which occurred here in the UK was in Dunblane in 1996 with a death toll of 18. The only incident that was worse in terms of deaths was the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007 where 33 were killed. But whilst the UK total consisted of that one incident, the total deaths to have occured in the US from Virginia and the other 103 incidents amounts to over 225.

Can any sane American honestly tell me that their gun legislation isn't making it easier for those who are mentally imbalanced to go to such deadly lengths when compared to the UK for example where the toughening up in the legislation after Dunblane has surely impacted positively on the fact that there has been no sequel?

After the Columbine Massacre of 1999 left 13 dead, there were another 28 school based gun related incidents before the Virginia Tech killings in 2007. Since then there have been a further 32 incidents.

These are merely the school induced incidents that have involved firearms. The incident that occured in Arizona on Saturday was not in a school-based environment. The figures above are merely then, the tip of the American iceberg.

So the gun laws aren't having an effect? Well, they're certainly not helping.

The Hope from 9/11 Washed Away in the American Love of the Gun
So we come full circle.

On the worst day in America's history, 2,752 citizens were killed because of the crazed ideas of foreign nationals. The events of that day, for better or for worse, begot a war in Iraq and further military intervention in Afghanistan which has  killed thousands of additional coalition forces personnel and innocent civilians on the ground.

Yet, on that dark day in September 2001, a ray of light shone through for the families that grew with the news of births. One such family on that day lived a continent away from the atrocities in New York and Washington, in Arizona.

Now, that bright light in the shape of Christina Taylor Green, has been extinguished. Was she an innocent by-stander in a politically motivated incident or the unfortunate recipient of a deranged man's moment of madness? We do not yet know.

What we do know is that the incident occurred, not this time in a school, but in another everyday environment and occurred with the use of a firearm.

More Darkness for the Future
I hold no hope that politicians in the US will stand-up to the gun lobby and make the changes that are required. Indeed, I doubt that a majority of Americans would be willing to sacrifice their 2nd ammendment rights for the sake of the greater good.

This all means that no matter what happens abroad in countries across the world at the hands of American foreign policy in years to come, US domestic policy will continue to doom hundreds and thousands more of its own citizens to a tragic, desolate, harrowing, and unecessary death.

No comments:

Post a Comment