5 Jan 2016

To many, Obama is ‘assaulting the values of the Founding Fathers’

It is not hard to find gunsmiths and firearm sellers in the US who think that the lack of background checks on people wishing to by guns is, well, ripe for change.


So it is that Barak Obama has taken it upon himself duly to tighten up some of the questions that should now be asked of those wishing to bear arms, as is their constitutional right.

But to do it, he has had to use his executive powers and effectively bypass a congress pledged to undo it all at the first available opportunity.

To much of the rest of the world, and in particular to Europe, this looks like the oldest and perhaps most familiar aspect of what is unfamiliar and unfathomable to our eyes about US culture.

Consider some stats from this year. This is to say, 2016. To clarify again – the one that is barely five days’ old.

In the USA, the right to bear arms this year has been exercised with customary vigour – as has the need to use them.

This year there have been 125 firearm deaths in the USA. Yes, this year. Six children were either killed outright or suffered gunshot injuries.

In the USA, 27 people were killed on Christmas Day alone. So far, 280 people have been injured by gunfire in 452 incidents.

The source for all this is the respected non-profit organisation Gun Violence Archive.

The second I put this out on Twitter, those in the pro-gun lobby weigh in about the difference of population size when we raise our eyebrows at such slaughter.

Unfortunately for them, that argument doesn’t sustain when you compare gunshot deaths across the year. In the UK, between 40 and 60 people will be killed by firearms each year and the figure alters very little.

Last year in the USA, 13,338 people were killed by guns. Moreover, there were some 330 mass shootings involving more than four people and 692 children were either killed or injured by gunfire.

Such is the pathology of the right to bear arms in terms of cause, symptom and effect. The episodes of mass shootings in US schools across the country recur – there will be more this year, I am prepared to bet here and now.

As we speak, the stand-off in Oregon continues with anti-government protesters. The latest in the apparently endless catalogue of individuals with a beef against central government. The Waco Syndrome, you might say, but all too often such events will end violently.

Then there is the whole vast slew of ordinary criminality through to domestics – but in the US context the added ingredient isĀ  violently obvious in these stats – bullets.

Obama, to European eyes, is merely tinkering with the small print, the very edges of ingrained national violence which produces stats a minor civil war would be familiar with.

To many in the US and its army of pro-firearm lobbyists on Capitol Hill, he is assaulting the very values of the Founding Fathers themselves.

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4 reader comments

  1. Alan says:

    Please provide sources for gun crime statistics, without sources the argument looses validity. Mr Obama has used Executive powers more than any other US President, to the point where political commentators have mentioned tyranny in the same context. The article is too short on sources and perspective to be taken seriously.

  2. sam says:

    As an immigrant to the US, I find the attraction to gun culture shocking. Even more shocking are the values that lead people to want to own and carry guns. There are many responsible gun owners and nature enthusiasts who have legitimate need for fire arms. But there are an equal number of people preparing for large scale disaster, that see each other as a potential threat if civil society was interrupted. Many even look forward to an opportunity to kill with impunity.

    The point is lost on them that the best way to prepare for a breakdown in law and order is greater community integration and inclusion, but prejudice is too endemic at every level of society for this to happen. The real obstacle to this social cohesion is actually a lack of government, which people have experienced through incidents like hurricane katrina. Also, because there is so little support for vulnerable people through public institutions, the message people get is that this is a society guided by the principle of ‘every man for him self’.

    When I look across the pond to how my home nation the UK is being manipulated to cultivate more competition between working people, I notice that something very precious about British culture is being lost. Only to be replaced by this American conservative ideology self reliance and survival of the fittest. In this fragile world we need to learn to support each other more than ever or risk regressing back to all the worst historical cliches.

  3. David says:

    I don’t see what America’s gun laws and gun statistics have to do with the UK. Last night’s interview with the Iraq veteran was one-sided to say the least. He was given no real time to answer questions from what is supposed to be a neutral individual. Clearly channel 4 is like the BBC and is anti gun. You show nothing other than the bad side of guns which is pointless because guns don’t kill people, people do. I am a gun owner here in the UK and everything to do with firearms ownership and sports related to firearms is negative. One of the most successful sportsman in England is a shooter, why not do a POSITIVE report on him. Another negative report to misinform an uneducated general public. Well done Channel 4!

  4. Andrew Dundas says:

    Two points:
    1. The 2nd Amendment was adopted in 1791 and is not part of the original constitution. Moreover, the right to bear arms is not absolute and control of weapons is lawful. The Supreme Court ruled: ‘… states could limit any weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”. President Obama is NOT infringing the Constitution nor denying any fundamental right.
    2. There are thought to be 325 millions guns in non-military ownership in the USA. Which makes any gun control problematic. I suggest that States be obliged to require owners to take out insurance of the risk that their registered gun may hurt other people or property – just as is required for motor vehicles. Failure to insure any gun should become a serious offence even if it has been mislaid. Insurance companies will therefore do the necessary checks of the risk they’re taking on.

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