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El Comercio, Ecuador

Where Weapons Rule

By Grace Jaramillo Domingo

Translated By Slava Osowska

20 January 2013

Edited by Natalie Clager

Ecuador - El Comercio - Original Article (Spanish)

Barack Obama’s second and final term will officially begin tomorrow. But only five days ago, he finally decided to fight the mother of all battles: the sale of weapons. I say finally because for the political class to do anything about the issue, the unthinkable had to happen — the death of 20 children and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut just a few days before Christmas.

This incident was not the first, nor was it unique. The history of massacres of defenseless children at the hands of disturbed teenagers began in 1989 at a public school in Stockton, California.

Throughout the years, similar events have occurred continuously. The Columbine massacre is well known outside the United States thanks to the documentary by Michael Moore, but similar events have occurred continuously throughout the years. And in terms of a public policy response, no more than two laws have passed restricting the import of assault rifles.

The reason is quite simple — the National Rifle Association’s lobby is very powerful.

Not only do they generously finance the campaigns of political figures whose interests are closely aligned with theirs, but they have taken it upon themselves to make sure that any attempt to restrict the use of arms that are as lethal as automatic and semi-automatic weapons, are nullified or forgotten.

The Newtown massacre, the most violent and bloody of all, finally altered the balance of power. At least for now. Despite Barack Obama’s modest executive orders, they are the most ambitious that any president has ever proposed. In any case, the fight has only just begun. These executive orders could completely lose their legitimacy if the House of Representatives, majority Republican, decides to nullify them. What’s worse, many state legislatures are prepared to pass laws to stop the White House’s proposals.

Truth be told, the fight would be much less intense if it had had to be taken on by a white president.

Prevalent racism has created another incentive for the National Rifle Association to sell more weapons, with the deceptive argument that Americans may have to defend themselves — à la Ayn Rand — against a socialist, totalitarian government, such as Barack Obama’s. That is why the specter of the second amendment is ever present, and Obama has been extremely careful to assure that he will respect the right to bear arms granted by that amendment.

The healthy thing to do would be to eliminate weapons completely, but in a political system that is as polarized as this one, common sense always takes the back seat.

Strict controls on the sale of weapons in the United States would also benefit everyone.

If more than 60 percent of weapons sold have not been registered, that means thousands of them have gotten into the hands of drug cartels, criminal gangs and similar groups in Mexico and other Central American countries.



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