Sunday 22 April 2018

Ruth O’Neill: US gun lobbyists have the blood of latest victims on their hands

It's Groundhog Day in America. Another day, another mass shooting. We've heard this story before, yet it seems no lessons have been learned.

Working in ABC News in Los Angeles, we cover many shootings, but, as this story developed, it was clear the magnitude of this event was on a different level.

Adam Lanza (20) walked into Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide. It was the second deadliest mass shooting in US history. An even scarier fact; Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the whole of the US and the three weapons the suspect had on him were owned legally.

In fact, they belonged to his mother, Nancy, whom he also killed on Friday in their family home. I wonder if she ever thought the day she bought the guns that they may ultimately end her life, her son's life and slaughter 26 other innocent people.

And so, the gun law debate resurrects its ugly head. Culturally it is very difficult for me to understand why Americans feel the need to buy guns, yet alone use them. It could be a power thing. It seems to kill more people than "protect them".

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the strongest lobby groups in the country and every year it pours millions of dollars into advocating gun rights.

While US President Barack Obama and the government may have to wait to get their voices heard, people on social media wasted no time attacking the NRA.

In a cowardly act, it removed its Facebook page and stopped tweeting just after news of the shooting broke.

It is time for Mr Obama to make radical changes, to step up to the plate and remind us why he was re-elected.

On Friday, he spoke at the press conference as a father, now it's time to act like a president.

History has shown us that human rights evolve over time – they reflect the times that we live in.

The Second Amendment, which claims every American has "the right to bear arms", was drafted in 1791, when wild west cowboys were roaming American soil. Today it seems to be something that just doesn't make sense, given how many innocent people have been inexplicably killed in recent years just so an American civilian can have a right to a gun.

The frightening part being that these lethal weapons get into the hands of mentally unstable people all too often.

The subtext of this event is mental illness. Most of the killers in mass shootings have suffered from depression and personality disorders. Extensive trails of red flags are often left, which ultimately are ignored or dismissed, by family, schoolteachers and mental health staff.

Adam Lanza was said to have been a "genius in school" who also possibly suffered from a personality disorder, a disturbed boy who perhaps felt very alone and was afraid to ask for help. The reoccurring patterns in mass murders are terrifyingly similar.

America, a country which is paranoid over terrorist attacks and threats of a nuclear war, allows its own citizens to wage an internal war and kill fellow Americans through the use of guns.

Shortly after 9/11, a shoe bomber attempted a terrorist attack and now every time you go to the airport in the US you must remove your shoes. Yet in many states you can walk down to a local store and buy a gun.

This tragedy isn't a natural disaster – a hurricane, a tsunami, an earthquake – all out of our hands; this tragedy is man-made. Ultimately, Americans allowed this to happen and the truth is every gun lobbyist has the blood of 20 children and six adults on their hands today.

Irish Independent

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