Monday, April 23, 2007

Can this possibly be true?

I hadn't posted anything about the mass killings in Virginia last week. Last year after another horrendous multiple killing I posted on the subject of how America is just 'different' on this. I then wrote that I can understand intellectually the arguments against gun control, despite finding them ridiculous, but I couldn't understand how emotionally people can just keep watching these mass killings and saying that guns have little to do with it. Listening to the debate after the Virginia killings I'm starting to revise that. I think the US is just so far down that road that people can't imagine a way of turning around and getting rid of guns. It is just like I can't think of a way of organizing a society better than via democracy; that's it - that is my frame of reference. If the comparison is correct, then suddenly the idea that sensible, young, well-educated, middle-class American students would phone in or email to an moderate, mainstream NPR phone-in show, as I heard last week, and say: "I should be able to carry a concealed weapon on campus with me" doesn't sound as utterly bizarre. In fact if you live in a society where the crazy can easily buy weapons, it actually makes perfect sense. I would want a gun too.

There is an article in MotherJones on the events that is well worth a read - James Ridgeway argues that violence towards women is the unrecognised dimension to many of these killings. It's a strong argument and a disturbing one. But Ridgeway also in the article notes what he calls "a bare-bones list of state gun rules", which includes:
- Can't sell handguns to kids under 18, but any kid over 12 can buy shotguns, older rifles, and assault weapons, all without parental consent.
Can this be true? It can't be, can it? You can own an assault weapon at 12? Without your parents' consent? Why on earth...?

1 comment:

KGS said...

Hi Toby;

MJ:
--Can't give kids under 18 handguns or assault weapons, but kids can possess rifles and shotguns.

--Can't sell handguns to kids under 18, but any kid over 12 can buy shotguns, older rifles, and assault weapons, all without parental consent.

There appears to be a contradiction here, which is it?

You mentioned that: "I think the US is just so far down that road that people can't imagine a way of turning around and getting rid of guns"

Seeing that the right to own a weapon is enshrined in the US constitution, I'd say the US has been down that road since its independence from Britain.

I do believe however that a waiting period for a full background check is in order, but that of course would effect only the law abiding sector of society. The criminal gets his/her piece by illegal "untraceable" means.

There was an error in this gadget