Monday, April 16, 2007

Virigina shootings

Seeing the tragic events today at Virginia Tech, I have another sense of deja vu. This is another in a long list of massacres that have inflicted the US through the use of guns. I remember watching the Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine a few years ago, the film itself had a powerful message along with the power of the gun lobby in the US through the NRA who've been one of the most powerful lobbies in the States. The film in itself was extremely moving especially when it involved interviewing the families who has list love ones in the massacre.

The easy availability of guns in the States is in stark contrast to our strict laws that saw handguns banned in the UK, one of the first measures brought in by the Labour Government back in 97 after the tragic events of Dunblane. One of the things that most struck me when I've first visited the States is the ease at which you can purchase a handgun; indeed Wal-Mart had a counter with handguns. In the States, despite countless tragedies, no change will take place in gun law, with 'the right to bear arms' being part of the constitution. Though some States can legislate to restrict sales and some have tightened up the law, in many states the power of the gun lobby will prevent even the most basic of restrictions on gun sales. With a nation where one in three of the population own a gun, many see guns as part of their security.

While this country does have gun crime it is a fraction of the US level. If we had gun laws as liberalised as the USA then I've no doubt we would have gun murders running at many times the level it does. With a President so gung-ho in his attitude to guns (and in a statement today made clear his support for the 2nd amendment) the status quo will sadly remain.


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