The Lone Killer Will Find Friends in the States; in the Wake of Cumbria, We See a Gun as a Murder Tool. but in the US It's a Declaration of Man's Independence

The Evening Standard (London, England), June 4, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Lone Killer Will Find Friends in the States; in the Wake of Cumbria, We See a Gun as a Murder Tool. but in the US It's a Declaration of Man's Independence


Byline: James Fenton VIEW FROM AMERICA

AS THE bulletins came in from West Cumbria on Wednesday afternoon, a key phrase cropped up as soon as the information permitted it: the killer acted "before turning the weapon on himself ". This gave us the key to the kind of story we were listening to.

A man goes out on a killing spree which will end, it is understood, either with his suicide or with his death at the hands of the law. Such a man plans such a day as if it is going to be his last.

It is a rare story in Britain, as has been emphasised. In the US it is much more common, and everyone knows why. In Britain, the overwhelming consensus favours strict control of personal weapons.

In America, one of the two major parties most vigorously opposes it, and this political opposition is a popular cause and rallying cry.

You would think that since September 11 2001 all efforts would have been made to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons. Yet only last month the gun lobby was insisting that terrorist suspects who had been placed on a "no-fly" list should nevertheless not be denied the right to buy and bear arms.

And the Republicans have no problem with this.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, said last year that "whenever they can, wherever they can, the Democrats want to turn away the rights of lawabiding citizens to own and purchase a gun -- a right that is guaranteed under the United States constitution."

He went on: "It is ironic, to say the least, that at the same time Democrats in Congress are threatening to deny Americans their second amendment rights to own a firearm and defend their families and homes, they are considering bringing terrorists such as 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other al Qaeda detainees to our communities once President Obama follows through his campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay."

In other words, upholding a suspected terrorist's right to bear arms is OK. Transferring him to prison in the States is not.

This key difference between Britain and the US has a direct bearing on those who, for whatever reason, are driven by a desperate hatred and anger to stage their own personal Armageddon.

In Britain, they act alone. In the US, they have an ideological context: they can believe they are acting as free men.

In Britain there seems to be no exact equivalent of the case of Jerry Kane who, last month, shot and killed two police officers who pulled over his white van for a traffic stop. Kane and his son, who were themselves killed shortly afterwards by the police, had been touring the country speaking to meetings.

Kane's pitch was to those facing bankruptcy and mortgage foreclosure, and his message was that, because the lending banks used a fraudulent procedure (according to his arcane reasoning), no one was obliged to pay their loans.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Lone Killer Will Find Friends in the States; in the Wake of Cumbria, We See a Gun as a Murder Tool. but in the US It's a Declaration of Man's Independence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?