In the wake of the recent massacre at a movie theatre in Colorado, Lawrence Martin discusses the apparent victory of the National Rifle Association and gun ownership over the forces of reason in the United States. Martin laments the failure of either Obama or Romney, although the latter’s stance is less surprising, to speak out in favour of gun control following the shooting. The notion that relatively easy access to high-powered weapons may have played a central role in James Holmes’ attack is taboo. Neither candidate will discuss it publicly.
The fact is, Martin argues, the NRA has won the debate over gun control in the United States. Despite the large number of gun-related deaths in the US, calls to curtail gun ownership are anathema for national candidates. Any criticism of gun laws by a presidential contender would be political suicide.
A mixture of fear, radical libertarianism and paranoia, all generously funded by the NRA, has led some in America to make the Second Amendment essential to their national identity. So central, in fact, that to question existing gun laws is tantamount to treason. The right to bear arms for ‘self-protection’ is more important than the dangers it creates.
It is unfortunate that the reality of these dangers does not seem to have struck home for many Americans following last Friday’s shootings. A demented individual such as Holmes was able to have the devastating effect he did because he had access to automatic weapons. It is hard to imagine how this man could have killed and injured so many people without them. As Eddie Izzard said, “the National Rifle Association says that ‘guns don’t kill people, people do,’ but I think the gun helps, ya know?”