Massacre of the innocents

17 Dec

I was just listening to a representative of the National Rifle Association on the radio, on BBC Radio 4 News. When asked what could be done to prevent such incidents as happened in Newtown he prevaricated and tried to suggest greater controls on people with mental health problems. Mental health problems come and go but an assault rifle is fairly consistently an assault rifle. Someone who was judged as normal can become dangerously unstable for no apparent reason. Asked if he would support restrictions on the ownership of battlefield weapons the representative replied that over three hundred million guns were legally held in the US and that tens of millions would fall into the category of battlefield weapons. In practice he was saying that nothing can be done, that the political will was not there to change things. He made a statement to the effect that any nut in a car can kill people. I wanted to punch him.
An assault rifle is a brilliantly designed and constructed device which is perfect for its job. That job is to kill people in large numbers with little effort and limited skill. If the troops of my nation are involved in military conflict I would want them equipped with such a tool of the trade. When it comes to private citizens owning these weapons, you really need to question the sanity of anyone who suggests that it is a good idea. There is always the economic clout of the arms manufacturers and their poodle, the NRA which wields undue influence in government. Numerically these are not that important, there are not that many people directly dependent on the arms industry and deluded, pathetic survivalists. It is easy enough to pass a suitable law and still get re-elected. Or are you apologists in Congress and the House complete moral vacuums?
Another excuse is that all citizens of the USA have the right to bear arms. This dates from the war of independence when Red Coats might come into your town at any time. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, it has been quite a few years since any British soldiers were seen marching round Boston or Philadelphia. Just compare your right to bear arms with the children and teacher’s right to life in Newtown. It requires skill and strength to fire more than two bullets a minute from a musket or early rifle and nearly all the time you are reloading and vulnerable. An assault rifle can fire ten rounds a second. The old saying (from the NRA) that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, needs to be revised. People with guns kill people. It is just so much more efficient than a knife or a club. That is why such tragedies occur on such a scale. An attacker with a knife has to get up close and is likely to be overpowered after a few stabbings, but a gunman can keep his distance and keep on firing.
One last point I want to make is this, a child in the USA is fifteen times more likely to be shot than in ANY other comparable country. That’s not twice, not four times but FIFTEEN times more likely. Do you really want the freedom to watch innocent children being massacred again? Bring back strict controls on the ownership of battlefield weapons.

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