2007/04/18

America seen as a violent society

The tragic killings in Virginia have brought an outpouring of sympathy and condolences from around the world. As people shake their heads in bewilderment, trying to puzzle out what would prompt such a senseless act, others see this as another manifestation that the US is a violent society obsessed with the right to bear arms. The Washington Post carries a cross-section of reaction from around the world. It observes: "Officials, newspaper columnists and citizens around the world described the Virginia Tech massacre as the tragic reflection of an America that fosters violence at home and abroad, even as it attempts to dictate behavior to the rest of the world." Much of the foreign reaction centered on the proliferation of guns in the United States. Perhaps there is a lesson here for our own government as it moves to lighten restrictions on gun ownership.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's hard to fathom why anyone would slaughter innocent people on such a scale.Something needs to be done about the needless proliferation of guns in the U.S. For those who doubt the power of the gun lobby there, particularly the National Rifle Association, I urge them to read Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson.

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

The lesson here is to keep out these bloody South Koreans, perhaps. After all, South Korean men are now responsible for 2 of the 3 deadliest shooting rampages in world history.

If that doesn't work, we can always remember that South Kor...er, I mean guns, will always be with us. It is not impossible to "uninvent" them. A half decent metal fabrication shop can put out 50 guns a day with only minimal modifications. The instructions for a metalsmith to build a gun in his garage could fit on a single sheet of paper. In high school some people I know made bullets in shop class. Bullets, for those unsure, are the hard thing to make. You could shut down every gun manufacturer, round up every gun on the planet today, melt them all, pat yourself on the back, and by the end of the month there could be 50,000 more in circulation. "Proliferation" simply means that there's something people want, other people willing to provide it, and the know-how to do it. That's not going away.

So you can sit back and mischaracterize the U.S. as a "violent society" (is that way Edmonton and Calgary both saw students arrested for plotting Columbine-style assaults with illegally obtained weapons this past week?), or you can instead realize that their "gun lobby" has been fighting a losing battle, and that every move to control guns has created another situation where all the control has done is given a killer a room of defenseless pigeons.

Johnny Canuck said...

The American's obsession with the right to bear arms largely accounts for the more than 11000 deaths due to violence involving guns in the U.S. each year. Dance all you can with your convuluted references, you can't avoid that fact. Ban handguns/assault weapons and you will see a dramatic reduction in gun-related violence. No, you won't eliminate it but you will save a lot of lives.