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die Welt, Germany

Six-Year-Old Kids Riddled with Bullets

By Uwe Schmitt

Translated By Ron Argentati

11 January 2013

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Germany - die Welt - Original Article (German)

Change is needed after Newtown. Vice President Joe Biden makes the case for stronger gun control and negotiates between pro- and anti-gun lobbies. But the prospects for reform look poor.

Anyone with a heart could feel the pain evident in Vice President Joe Biden's appeal to the gun lobby on Thursday: “There is nothing that has gone to the heart of the matter more than the visual image people have of little six-year-old kids riddled — not shot with a stray bullet — riddled, riddled, with bullet holes in their classroom."

The 20 students murdered along with five of their teachers bear witness to the political and social prosecution Biden will undertake on President Obama's behalf.

The vice president and his team of government representatives tried through three days of talks that included pastors and teachers, psychiatrists, police officers, representatives of the gun lobby, family members of those slain and representatives of the video game industry, which is accused of partial responsibility for — and seeking to profit from — such massacres.

Next Tuesday, Biden will make Obama's recommendations public, intended to lessen the feeling of unbearable senselessness that the Newtown murders caused. At the same time Biden was speaking, a 16-year-old student in Bakersfield, California gunned down two classmates. The shooter was eventually convinced by an (unarmed) teacher to surrender his weapon.

Tough Fight

The National Rifle Association, the organization representing the right of all citizens to own guns, was also invited by both factions to attend. No one really expected a true discussion beyond a mutual agreement to disagree. The NRA did not disappoint, showing agreement with its more than two million members.

Just minutes after the end of the meeting, the NRA issued a terse statement expressing their opinion that “it is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.”

Inadequate Control over Gun Sales

Joe Biden and the NRA have always been scornful of one another; this meeting did little more than put another mark on their respective checklists. Biden has received the NRA's lowest rating of “F” (on a scale beginning with A-plus) for decades. In 2007, Biden again voted to reinstate the ban on owning military-style semiautomatic weapons. The so-called Brady Law banning them had expired in 2004, after 10 years on the books.

In 1999, then-Senator Biden voted to require background checks for sales at gun fairs — in vain. About 40 percent of guns are still purchased without background checks — mandatory for sales by stores — at such events in the United States.

These checks can be carried out by telephone in a matter of minutes, but thousands lie about their backgrounds with impunity. It is harder to be licensed to serve alcoholic drinks or to get electric power than to buy a handgun in America.

Little Chance of Stricter Laws

Joe Biden could always be trusted to support initiatives in the Senate supporting stricter federal laws regarding the purchase and possession of guns, even though the NRA almost always prevailed. But surrender is no option for Biden. Now come the (still secret) government plans to close loopholes in gun laws since the Newtown shootings: Obama's outlawing of “military-style weapons,” a nationwide registry system for guns and the outlawing of magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds, which facilitate killing the largest number of people in the shortest possible time. The outlook for passage of such reforms — all an unconstitutional disarming of Americans, according to the NRA — is as bad as ever. Since the Newtown massacre, NRA membership has increased by some 100,000, even as the organization's public image has gone down by 10 percentage points and more people now disapprove of the organization than approve of it.

Biden publicly threatened to implement gun law reform via executive order, thus bypassing Congress. The president could unilaterally initiate more severe punishments for those who break the law, give false statements on their background checks or purchase illegal weapons. But that is about the limit of his symbolic anger.

Biden Has Obama’s Back

In Joe Biden, Obama has a partner who mastered all the legislative tricks decades ago. He comes off as a jovial man of the people and his broad smile and tendency to make impetuous — sometimes reckless — statements make him an easy person to underestimate. But it was Biden's impressive TV debate appearance against Paul Ryan that rescued an Obama reeling on the ropes and again raised Democratic hopes during the campaign. And it was Biden who negotiated the (lousy) compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Biden and Obama's enemies are consumed with hate. Gun nut Alex Jones speaks for hundreds of thousands of people when he rants that Hitler and Stalin disarmed their opponents first and then murdered them. A grinning Alex Jones currently has an Internet poster showing Adolf Hitler saluting with the caption, “All in favor of gun control raise your right hand.”



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