The Massacre of The Innocents

Dasu Krishnamoorty

The American media have exhausted all adjectives to describe the savagery of school shootings after another such act of insanity on 1 October at Roseburg (Oregon) where a 20-year-old gunman opened fire on a rural community campus, killing ten persons and injuring seven. There is no point in counting the number of shooting incidents because they are linked to the free availability of guns now and will occur again and again as long as gun laws continue to be liberal. Why sell a gun to someone and hope he wouldn’t use it?

Dasu Krishnamoorty

Dasu Krishnamoorty

According to The Washington Post, the Roseburg tragedy is the 45th shooting at a school in 2015 and the 142nd since a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. killed 20 elementary school kids and six adults on Dec. 14, 2012. It is the deadliest attack on school kids in US history. Could it be otherwise with 300 million guns in the hands of a population of 312 million?  The law-abiding American can only say, In God We Trust and await his turn. The general American tendency to be obsessive about personal rights and freedoms always overlooked the power that the Second Amendment has placed in the hands of every citizen in the misplaced belief that it would be used for self-defence.

A couple of days before this tragedy, the President said he would submit broad, new gun control proposals to Congress not later than January and would commit the power of his office to overcoming political opposition in the wake of the school massacre. His pledge came as key House Republicans restated their firm opposition to enacting any new limits on firearms or ammunition, setting up the possibility of a philosophical clash over the Second Amendment early in Mr. Obama’s second term.

President Obama lost no time in condemning the infanticide and saying “the enormity of controlling the culture of guns and the epidemic of gun violence can’t be an excuse for inaction. America has gone through such tragedies too many times. We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.” Hasn’t he said that earlier after two mass killings in his tenure?

In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court contributed no less to the gun anarchy, delivering two decisions concerning the Second Amendment. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Court ruled that, “the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia[1][2] and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” In dicta, the Court listed many longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession as being consistent with the Second Amendment.

This recurring savagery is a beastly facet of the American milieu, a paradox that fails to explain the thriving gun lobby, so powerful that it has become part of the American election strategy. President after president, including Barack Obama, showed no urgency to clearly state a plan to fight gun violence.  The lawmakers are no less casual. A day before the Sandy Hook massacre, lawmakers in Michigan passed a law, overriding the objections of the state’s school boards that would help people carry concealed weapons in schools.

That same day, Ohio lawmakers passed a similar law. Earlier in the week, a federal appeals court lifted a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois. And Florida said that it would soon issue its millionth concealed weapon and firearm license. What fatal naïveté to put guns in the hands of the people and fondly hope they would not use them.” The irony is the gun lobbyists have school-going kids who might have died in the Connecticut massacre. The American complacency about the repeated murder of school kids baffles a society that highly values human life.

To go back to a gunless era would now be as impossible as putting the cream back into the tube. Some people suggested a buyback schemes on the lines of a successful Australian strategy of buying back guns from owners at market price. This happened in that country after a young man killed 35 persons in eight minutes with two semi-automatic rifles in 1996. Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Detroit and New York did the same thing.  The New York Times thinks the federal government could follow suit. But as long as the law permits guns people will continue to buy them and use them too.

The National Rifle Association, a severe critic of any restriction on the freedom to carry a gun, scares people into thinking the government is coming for their guns. After the 2008 shootings at Northern Illinois University that killed six, NRA said: “We think it is poor form for a politician or a special interest group to try to push a legislative agenda on the back of any tragedy.”

California has been fighting in court for years with the National Rifle Assn. and other groups over an earlier landmark law to restrict handgun ammunition sales. The state has been unable to enforce the law since 2010 because of litigation.

“For too long, too much ground has been ceded in this debate about reasonable gun and ammunition control,” said Sen. Kevin De Leon, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. He is leading the effort for new regulations on ammunition sales. “We must not capitulate any longer,” he said. He said his new proposal addresses concerns raised by the courts that the existing law does not clearly define what constitutes handgun ammunition.

The rate of people killed by guns in the US is 19.5 times higher than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders. Many Americans say an invasive, exploitative press is going too far in its coverage of the Newtown tragedy.

The Chicago Tribune, in rigmarole of an editorial, dripped copious tears for the children and angry words for the killer and not a word about the gun laws, which facilitate such killings. It said, “Regrettably, we suspect it (Connecticut) will focus less on the innocents than on their killer.”

No matter what, USA TODAY takes pride in asserting that Americans are fiercely devoted to the right to keep and bear arms, and the Supreme Court has upheld that right. Hundreds of millions of guns are in circulation, and no one is going to take them away.

The Christian Science Monitor: ”Those who oppose more gun regulations focus on the need to deal more effectively with the mentally ill -– just as they often say that it is criminals, not guns, who commit violence.” This is a familiar argument to exonerate the killer.

In a message to the nation, President Obama said, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings.  And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.  There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America.  I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said after a Dorchester, Massachusetts, campaign event that there is a way to have sensible gun control measures that keep firearms out of the wrong hands and save lives. She said she’s committed to doing everything she can to achieve that.

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