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Archive for December, 2012

I have not posted for nearly a year. The usual parade of human misery, stupidity, and ignorance, interspersed with moments of clarity, humour, and light, has passed by with such regularity that my desensitised mind has just let it by without mention… But the latest outrage from the United States must make the most numb heart scream in pain.

Some of the details are known. A man shoots his mother, apparently with one of her weapons; then takes her other guns (high-powered semi-automatic etc.), and thus armed as if for war, goes to a local school, shoots young children (some several times), killing 20, and teachers who try to protect them.

Intentional mass murder is a difficult crime to reconcile with, even when the victims are adults. But when the targets of the murderer are young children, the intensity of revulsion to the act is heightened. It strikes at a primal place in the heart, and the pain is deep to a fundamental level , and like a wind-driven bushfire, it overcomes our sensibilities, for a time at least.

But amid the shock and pain in the wake of such an outrage, this moment could be a watershed, a moment of inevitable clarity for the United States and how to deal with its relationship with guns.

We know what happened in Newtown, we know the where, the who, the when, just not the why… not any why… and therein are the issues.

The actions of the murderer are so outrageous to the consciousness of our society, we cannot see any sense in those actions… It is a senseless act, therefore it may be assumed there must be something deeply wrong with this person QED… so is this largely a mental health issue?

The mental state of the murderer is one why, but the other question of why did/could this outrage occur is to the access to high-powered guns with extended magazine capacity.

Last Friday, the same day as the school attack in Newtown occurred, a man walked into an elementary school in central China and attacked 22 children with a weapon. Same day, same action, same targets, but a different weapon, and a different outcome. The weapon in the China attack was a knife, and all survived. Gun laws are far more strict in China, and access far more difficult. Therefore, is it the gun laws in the US that are a contributing factor in the episodes of mass shooting that seem to occur with metronomic regularity? 30 since Columbine in 1999.

I do not believe that anyone in the US will ever try to remove all guns from the general population, not unless they wish to see blood in the streets; for Americans are fiercely in favour of the 2nd amendment to the US constitution which grants the right for citizens to bear arms. But having the right to bear arms, is not a compulsion to bear arms for self-defence, or to create a personal arsenal of numerous guns that may include high-powered military assault rifles. There are nearly 89 guns per 100 Americans, making access to dangerous weapons easy for the angry or the disturbed.

The outrage in Newtown may be a moment of clarity, where Americans can see while they have the right to bear arms, there needs to be controls on that right, so that weapons of war, and large magazine clips need not be on the streets.

The act to keep these powerful weapons available, is almost as senseless as the acts of some of those who get access to the guns…

and the metronome keeps ticking…. tick, tick tick chik-chik BOOM.

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