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die Tageszeitung, Germany

The Historic Moment

By Dorothea Hahn

Translated By Ron Argentati

11 January 2013

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Germany - die Tageszeitung - Original Article (German)

The U.S. has missed many historic moments when it comes to disarming the population. While other nations consider taking weapons out of general circulation at the end of a bloody war to be a step toward peace, at the end of their War of Independence, Americans instead enshrined the right to own weapons in their constitution.

Furthermore, they declared weapons ownership to be “necessary to the security of a free State,” thus ensuring that the privileges enjoyed by gun fans would survive every technological weapons update and every societal change while the power of their lobbies continues to grow.

So far, so bad. But this development is by no means cast in concrete. There have been several times in history when the growing power of the gun lobby could be at least temporarily slowed. One such period came at the close of the 1960s after the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Another was in the early 1990s after Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt. In both cases, stricter but temporary gun control measures were enacted after a great deal of controversy and debate.

Today, in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, which killed 20 children and six adults, we've arrived at another historic moment in which some semblance of intelligence could be brought into the gun debate. At least the extreme elements such as allowing civilians to own and carry semiautomatic assault rifles could be stopped.

But there's an urgency, because it won't be long before the moral outrage over these children's deaths and the call for stricter gun laws is drowned out by the din from gun owners and manufacturers. Whoever wants to level the playing field between these opposing groups can't bank on Congress to do anything. Too many representatives lack the courage to oppose the pro-gun faction. The rest are mostly fearful that they might not be reelected if they make too many gun lobby enemies.

Change will have to come from the top down. Barack Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden have absolutely taken the right stand by setting stricter control of guns as their highest priority — even if they have to ignore the wishes of Congress.



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