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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany

The Christmas Massacre

By Berthold Kohler

Americans have to ask themselves which is more important to them: the right to keep and bear arms or the right to go to schools and universities without the fear of being killed.

Translated By Ron Argentati

16 December 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Germany - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Original Article (German)

After the Newtown massacre, those left behind in Connecticut — as well as sympathetic people all over the world — are again asking themselves in outrage, desperation and anger the questions that are always asked in cases of mass murder: How could God allow such a thing? What kind of demons made the shooter commit such a monstrous crime? And why, for God's sake, won't Americans give up punishing and killing their young people and their children with gunfire?

It's because the possession of pistols and other firearms, as anachronistic as it may seem to Europeans, is firmly part of “the American way of life.” The right to protect yourself with a gun was an integral part of the American pioneer's way of life and today enjoys constitutional protection. Behind that stands the age-old American conviction that citizens can best provide for their own security, that they are allowed to take the law into their own hands should the government fail to protect its citizens, in this case grade-school children.

After every mass murder one hears loud voices claiming there wouldn't have been as many victims if they had been allowed to carry guns themselves. The insane act in Newtown shows the fallacy of that argument. The large caliber pistols and assault rifle the shooter used in the Sandy Hook elementary school belonged to his mother, who at first was said to have worked at the school. She was the shooter's first victim.

More guns in school bags, night stands and cash register drawers won't make America any safer. Nobel peace laureate Barack Obama wants to convince Americans (it's not just a matter of the “gun lobby”) to accept stricter controls and laws on personal weapons. His modest attempts to do so during his first term didn't get very far. Now, though, he's not tormented by thoughts of having to run for reelection. Republicans, as do all Americans, also have to ask themselves what they value more: the right to keep and bear arms or the right to allow their children to go to school or college without the fear of being shot to death.

The slaughter of children at Christmas time has never been part of the American dream.



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