Campus Massacre! 30 kids shot dead! What an introduction to a new culture! Although, I always knew I was moving to a country with no gun control, and I was aware of the 10 000 plus, fire arm related deaths per year, as my joining the NRA and a trip to the local gun shop weren’t on my things to do in America list, I’d figured, why worry. Unfortunately, since the shocking events at Virginia Tech began to unfold on Monday morning, I have had no choice but to worry and it’s been difficult not to dwell upon the issue of gun ownership in America. Is the guy behind the deli counter packing a piece? Is the bus driver one ticket away from jumping careers and going postal? Who the hel around me has got a gun, a grievance and a ticking psychosis?
Every major news outlet is encamped at Virginia Tech, and every nondescript news anchor worth their dental work is trawling over the details of this horrific slaughter pretty much 24-7. Every detail of the story is being slowly and gratuitously extracted from witnesses that surely should be protected from such media intrusion. CNN had a one on one interview with the killers room mates just 48 hours after their roomy became America’s most prolific campus killer.
The coverage has gone from shocking real time first person reports and quickly developed into predictably morbid analysis of the shooters psyche. Quite what doctor Phil brings to the debate I’m not sure, but he was wheeled out, along with numerous other psychologists, psychological profilers and ex-special forces to explain the ‘mind of a killer’. Some of the coverage has been frankly banal. Fox News were, of course, ahead of the competition when they raised the point that Virginia State Law disallows the carrying of weapons on campus by students. Thus denying them the opportunity “to take the shooter out !” This is a point they pressed home after Columbine, arguing that more guns, not less, were needed in American Schools.
The debate is quickly being moved on to the usual topic of what drove him to it? (surely a redundant question as if we were to find an answer it wouldn’t bring the people he killed back from the dead). The fact that Cho Seung-Hui bought his Glock 19 pistol quite legally on his credit card whilst taking prescription medication for depression doesn’t seem to matter. The media steadfastly refuse to ask any societal questions about attitudes to gun ownership and guns within society. Why do they refuse to promote a debate? Does the media simply decline to ask any questions that may upset their sponsors and paymasters?
Mainstream media are pretty sure that there is a common thread to all recent violent and psychotic incidents (well, those after the 60s, when the world officially began to go to the dogs). Whether it is video games, rock and roll/rap music/death metal or violent movies, there not sure, but media consensus appears clear, it’s not the guns that kill people, it’s the shooters!
There appears to be no political will to change gun culture. The right to bear arms is after all enshrined in the constitution (written with the English army in mind). All Americans believe in the right to bear arms, right? Well no, and a quick look at opensecrets.org, reveals why the debate is so schewed towards the gun lobbies argument.
‘In national elections since 1990, the NRA and other pro-gun groups have given $2,755,906 (15%) to Democratic candidates and $15,891,106 (85%) to Republican candidates (NRA gave the lion’s share of those donations). In addition, the NRA and Gun Owners of America spent a combined $29 million lobbying politicians between 1997 and 2003 (more than $4 million a year). Pro-gun control groups in the same period spent about $2.6 million’. (opensecrets.org)
Perhaps, the shocking events at Virginia Tech will ignite the debate, but as the ten year ban on semi automatic weapons was allowed to rescind without so much as a comment, I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps I should go get that NRA application after all.