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America’s political leaders must turn latest gun horror into action

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US president Joe Biden making an appeal from the White House for gun reforms after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

US president Joe Biden making an appeal from the White House for gun reforms after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

US president Joe Biden making an appeal from the White House for gun reforms after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Amid the despair of another massacre of children in the US, rational people are asking how it is possible that we could still be living in an age when the strongest voice of influence in American life is that of the gun lobby.

The voices of 19 more children are silenced for ever because a teenager could buy two automatic weapons on his 18th birthday.

When such a thing is possible, not only is 18-year-old killer Salvador Ramos at fault.

For generations, those wishing to bring sanity to the debate about the proliferation of weapons against a background of heart-shattering carnage have been shouted down.

The vested interests, who also bankroll so many political campaigns, have been omnipotent when it comes to resisting efforts to limit the availability of or restrict the use of lethal weapons.

In the aftermath of the Uvalde atrocity, Democratic senator for Connecticut Chris Murphy pleaded with his colleagues to put politics aside and work together to stop mass shootings.

The senator was in the House in 2012 when a shooting took place in his district, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where 20 children and six adults were killed. “Why are we here if not to try and make sure fewer schools and fewer communities go through what Sandy Hook has gone through, what Uvalde is going through?” he asked of his fellow senators.

“I am here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues: Find a path forward here.”

For all his passionate conviction, it is important to remember that since Sandy Hook, there have been more than 900 incidents of gunfire reported on school grounds in the US.

Tomorrow, former US president Donald Trump is expected to address a forum at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston. It is the year’s largest for the gun lobby and will “showcase over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear”.

What drives people to carry out such massacres may be impossible to determine, but what gives them the means to carry them out is no mystery. Unrestricted access to the tools of mass murder makes more massacres inevitable.

As a shaken President Joe Biden said: “The gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the largest profit. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”

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Getting 66 senators to step forward and change the Second Amendment in the US constitution, and the right to bear arms, still seems impossible; as does persuading the US Supreme Court to alter the law.

Seven- to 10-year-olds should not have to pay with their lives for the failures of the powerful to protect them.

President Biden has appealed to people to “turn the pain into action”.

But the agony will go on so long as guns are seen as either a Democratic or a Republican problem instead of an American one.


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