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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