Gun control and tragedy in Arizona


By Jennifer Lipman
January 10, 2011
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Michael Bloomberg said it best, although he’s not the only one to have made this point.

The mayor of New York told a crowd in the wake of the Arizona shooting spree: “We don’t know all the facts in this case yet, but we do know that every single day, 34 Americans are murdered.

“Every single day. Yesterday it was Judge John Roll and five other Americans and many more across the 50 states. Tomorrow, there will be another 34.”

As a Brit, I find the attitude towards gun control across the pond baffling, to say the least.

The second amendment of the constitution argues for the right of Americans to bear arms. But that’s a nebulous concept; the founding fathers weren’t talking about weapons with the capacity of modern machine guns and were theorizing in a time of frontier lawlessness that cannot possibly be compared with today.

As Nathan Thonrnburgh points out in Time magazine: “The real question in Tucson, though, is why the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was allowed to buy the murder weapon.

“Beyond the clearly delusional nature of online videos ascribed to him, Loughner was suspended last year from Pima Community College apparently because of mental problems...The Army also denied Loughner's application for unspecified reasons.

“Still, he passed a background check, and late last year legally bought the 9-mm Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun allegedly used in the shootings.”

The familiar refrain, when it comes to arguments about gun control, goes something along the lines of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

It’s a flawed logic. Yes, even without a gun in his hand the alleged shooter could have been harbouring antisemitic, extremist views and planning how he could end the life of Jewish Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford.

Sure, he could have attacked her and the six others who lost their lives in the rampage with another weapon. Not having a gun wouldn’t necessarily have stopped him hurting people.

But why make it so easy? Incidents like this, Columbine, Virginia Tech - all were the deranged actions of crazed people with one thing in common. They had access to a gun.

The desire to do something is not the same as the ability to do it. Take this silly example; I might want a flash car or expensive shoes, but without the ability (ie. enough money) to get them, they remain theoretical.

I could always rob a bank (or, in the case of a shooter, illegally acquire a gun) but it would make the path from A to B far more complicated.

Tightening access to guns won’t stop the disturbed souls out there from sharing their views with the world, or having those views in the first place. But it would make it a little harder for them to translate those views into action.

Ross Zimmerman, the father of the congressional aide gunned down in Saturday's rampage, said of his son: “All I ask is that people remember him."

What better way than to make it harder for it to happen again?

COMMENTS

amber

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 13:16

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There is one point missed here - gun ownership guarantees that the government can never become a totalitarian or oppressive one. It is a guarantee against government control - and that is why the founding fathers included it - not because of wild frontiers. This is a uniquely American concept, quite alien in Europe which, let's face it, has had its fair share of totalitarian and oppressive governments.

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