December 17, 2012
It's the USA and there is no resolution in sight for gun control in spite of the recent violence in Newtown, Connecticut at the Sandy Hooke Elelmentary school. This was a massacre of 20 children and six adults on Friday, Dec. 14, by an intruder with an assault rifle (a Bushmaster .223). This is a semi-automatic version of the civilian model of the U.S. military M-16 manufactured by Colt.
Despite a history of mass shootings it's either gun rights or gun control for Americans. There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America—many legally owned, many not. Each year, more than 4 million new guns enter the market.
In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) the US Supreme Court clearly held, for the first time, that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a gun. That Amendment says:
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.”
The present day gun-rights movement in the USA, which is predominantly white, rural, and politically conservative, interprets this to mean a right to own a hand weapon beyond the home to defend themselves against attackers with guns. They have to be prepared for the worst, they say.
Many of these gun owners are absolutists opposed to any government regulation of firearms and they argue that an increasingly armed public means a decreasing crime rate and that requiring background checks on buyers at gun shows represents a threat to the Constitution. Guns are a means to a less violent society. If the students and adults had guns then they would have been able to defend themselves. Schools and universities can turned into places for shootout.
The National Rifle Association's (NRA) little slogan is "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Many Americans are predisposed to agree with the basic message of the NRA that their right to bear arms is grounded in the Constitution, and they assume that gun violence is just the product of troubled or deranged individuals and not shaped by the economic and social context of places and class.
The cycle is a mass shooting, public outcry, political inaction, followed by the gun lobby 's victory in allowing lethal force to be used in more public places. In this culture of guns mourning the consequences of gun violence is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not.