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Argenpress, Argentina

Who Is Stopping Gun
Negotiations in the US?

By Leandro Albani

Translated By Kate Wheeler

23 January 2013

Edited by Ketu­rah Hetrick

Argentina - Argenpress - Original Article (Spanish)

Between 280 million and 310 million guns can be found in the United States — a country inhabited by 311,999,354 people, according to the last census, conducted in April 2012.

Making a conservative estimate and taking the bottom number of this range would mean that there is one pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun or more sophisticated weapon for almost every citizen of the country.

The UN has estimated that there is an average of 88.8 guns for every 100 inhabitants of the U.S. In 2011, a Gallup poll revealed that 47 percent of North Americans reported at least one gun in their home.

These days, the debate about gun control has intensified in the U.S. The reason: the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 27 people, 20 of them children, were assassinated.

Vice President Joe Biden gave Barack Obama a report completed by a special commission created after the Sandy Hook murders. The document proposes changes — for example, paying closer attention to the mental health of potential weapon buyers. It also stipulates the reactivation of legislation that prohibits assault rifles in the country. This idea was approved by Congress in 1994 but expired in 2004.

Other initiatives include increasing the universality of background checks for gun buyers and expanding the reach of a law approved by Congress in 1998 that established a National Instant Criminal Background Check System, administrated by the FBI.

So far, no comments have been made about the illegal sale of guns, nor has anyone questioned the arms industry, which promotes consumption indiscriminately.

As analyst David Brooks wrote in a recent article, “Armed Madness,” published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, nobody in America’s political class “dares to prohibit guns in civilian’s hands, only when considering some types of semiautomatic guns and certain types of ammunition.”

The Gun-wielding Men

Seeing Obama’s concerns about the search for a way to control guns in the U.S., lobbyists associated with the military industry have pressed a recurring system of propaganda where fear and violation of rights and liberties are the points of the spearhead.

These groups, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), evoke the Second amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The law states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

With those two lines, the NRA (formed by roughly 4.2 million members) and a group of Congressmen have clung to the amendment in order to defend an almost militaristic vision of society. David Keene, president of the NRA, declared that the organization has enough support in Congress to reject any project that tries to control guns.

A few days after the massacre at Sandy Hook, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre called the initiative to restrict arms sales as “lying.” La Pierre stated that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Based on this line of thinking, he proposed that armed guards should be employed in schools, an initiative that was well received in various parts of the country.

Soon Connie Mack, a former Republican legislator from Florida who is connected to anti-Cuba terrorist groups, joined the discussion. From Newtown, the Republican demanded that Congress not try to control guns because it was “impossible.” In keeping with the NRA, Mack expressed, “I don’t think you’re ever going to stop bad people from doing bad things.” The Republican defended indiscriminate civilian possession of weapons, arguing that “we can continue to pass other laws, but all that does is restrict law-abiding citizens of this country's rights.”

Faced with the situation arising from the massacre at Sandy Hook, the leader of the Democratic Party in the Senate, Harry Reid, defender of gun ownership, acknowledged that there should be a broad discussion on the topic. The legislator remarked last month that the country needed a deeper debate about how to change a culture that allows the growth of violence.

Those Who Say No to Guns

After the assassinations in Newtown, a group of parents whose children who had died in the elementary school formed the organization Sandy Hook Promise and called for a national dialogue about the possession of arms within the civilian population.

In comments to the press, Nicole Hackley reported that a month after the death of his son Dylan, who was six years old, they met with other families destroyed by massacres such as Colombine (1999), Aurora (Colorado, 2012) and Virginia Tech (2007). Other groups that promote gun control are the International Association of Chiefs of Police and a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has 700 members.

In December 2012, ABC and The Washington Post published a survey showing that the majority of Americans favor prohibiting the possession of weapons in their country. Of those surveyed, 54 percent said that the Newtown massacre had its roots in larger problems that crossed American society.

The question in the United States is if the political will really exists to, at the very least, apply stronger and more effective controls of civilian access to weapons.

Meanwhile, a scene from the 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine illustrates how problematic the situation in the U.S. is: As an incentive to open an account with their bank chain, North Country Bank offers Michael Moore, the film’s director, a hunting rifle. After opening the account, filling out a simple questionnaire about his drug, addiction and mental history, Moore leaves with a rifle in his hands.



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