(17a) Drama at an American school

Twenty children between five and ten years old and six adults were killed by a madman at a school in Newton, Connecticut. The madman killed himself. America is in shock after this new tragedy, indeed one in a long list. I feel sad for the families and friends. What can be said if words are insufficient?

We hope people learn from this tragedy as so many young children were killed. Why can these things happen? Because people are allowed to have weapons to defend themselves, and thus some people can use those weapons against others. One would thus expect Americans start to demand restriction on weapons, certainly as elsewhere fewer of these dramas happen because there are more restrictions about carrying weapons. That does not mean these dramas can't happen. E.g. a few years ago a madman in Belgium killed two children and a teacher at a school using a knife, but it would probably have been worse if he had a gun.

But it seems opinion is moving in the opposite direction. According to an article in the Guardian (15/12/2012), a Gallup poll showed that in 1959 there was a 60% support for gun control while this dropped to 26% in 2011 and that was just months after the Giffords shooting whereby Democratic Representative Giffords was wounded in the head (although she survived) while six other people died and a further twelve were wounded.

Because during the current drama many very young children were killed, it shocked the nation even more and thus we may hope people start demanding from their politicians to have stricter gun laws so that less weapons will be available (although this cannot happen overnight and most likely good people will give in their weapons while criminals will keep them and thus there will still be no solution unless the government is strict against those still carrying weapons). And the longer it takes to have stricter rules the more weapons will be in circulation and thus the bigger the problem.

But I fear we may see little action at the level of the law. Indeed, people may even demand even more relaxed gun laws to be able "to defend themselves" against madmen. Even more people may want to have weapons to defend themselves and their family. Some people even demand the right to carry heavier weapons. Tragically, a few months ago I read a story about a man who used his right to defend his house, and as a consequence he killed his own son who was trying to enter the house. Other times media report about accidents whereby children wound or kill their brother or sister because they were playing with the weapon of their parents.

In addition, as long as the weapon industry supports the campaigns of politicians during elections the politicians can't act as otherwise their political career may be over. Indeed, campaigns are very expensive in the US and thus the support of financially powerful people and companies is needed, and the weapon industry is one of the most powerful industries, even able to bring wars upon countries. Thus maybe politicians should be made independent from financial support by organisations and maybe even from people (although the disadvantage may be that then even fewer people may get involved in politics as today they can support a candidate they like and thus they make a sacrifice for someone).

But also in Europe things are changing. In the same newspaper I read that an independent Greek MP demands curbs on gun-toting politicians. It seems the number of politicians with guns, even in Parliament, is increasing as they say they have to defend themselves. It is true that during financial crises, and certainly after such harsh measures, people start to become hostile towards politicians. And thus some politicians think the solution are guns while then others may also start carrying guns. Of course this is differently from the US where children in a school were killed who were no threat to anyone while in Greece some politicians claim they need the weapons as an essential form of self defence after a series of physical and verbal attacks. Still, it are mainly extremists who carry the weapons, and certainly those of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party whose members are known to use violence against others. And the president of Parliament seems not to worry. Again, a worrying thing.

In conclusion, after the terrible events that happened in a school in the USA, we can only hope stricter gun control will come in place and those who do not obey will be punished. However, we probably may fear people will demand their right (2nd Amendment American Constitution) to carry weapons to defend themselves against those who don't want to give in their weapons in the name of their right to carry weapons.


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