US Shaken by School Shootings but Action on Guns Is Unlikely; as the US Ponders Its Next Move Following One of the Worst School Shootings in Its History, Experts Say the Country Has Paid for Its Right to "Bear Arms" with a Catalogue of Almost Unparalleled Slaughter. Here, Darren Devine Explores How Far the Latest Massacre of Innocents Is Likely to Shake America's Faith in Its Gun Laws

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 18, 2012 | Go to article overview

US Shaken by School Shootings but Action on Guns Is Unlikely; as the US Ponders Its Next Move Following One of the Worst School Shootings in Its History, Experts Say the Country Has Paid for Its Right to "Bear Arms" with a Catalogue of Almost Unparalleled Slaughter. Here, Darren Devine Explores How Far the Latest Massacre of Innocents Is Likely to Shake America's Faith in Its Gun Laws


ONLY some of most lawless places on earth have more gun murders per head of population than the United States.

Places like crime-ravaged, post-apartheid South Africa and drug-infested Colombia boast a higher murder rate through gun crime than the US.

Based on United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime data its murder rate with guns is almost 11 times ours in the UK.

When you remove Northern Ireland from the equation, its murder rate with guns - based on US data for 2010 and England and Wales figures for 2009 - is 32 times greater than ours.

But to date simple facts and statistics have never been enough to dislodge America's attachment to its guns - and one Welsh expert says that the culture is buried "too deep in its psyche".

There are some already suggesting even the latest bloodbath in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday will not move the monolith of US gun law.

Twenty-year-old killer Adam Lanza's mother Nancy, 52, owned five legally-registered guns, three of which her son carried with him.

He used a semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 military style rifle during the carnage. Two handguns and a shotgun were also recovered.

Diane Feinstein, a Democrat Senator, has announced that she will introduce a bill to ban assault weapons when congress opens next month.

And though President Barack Obama is now suggesting the incident has to be the catalyst for tougher gun laws, US culture expert Dr Nathan Abrams believes momentum will soon be lost.

Bangor University-based Dr Abrams said: "It's a hard one. It's like a chicken and egg situation. The right to bear arms is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche you don't know whether that's what produced the constitution or the constitution is upholding it.

"Similarly what looks to us in Europe like madness in terms of gun crime doesn't seem to translate into an American context."

Dr Abrams, an expert on the neo-conservatives who have fought to ensure US gun laws remain unchanged, added: "I would tend to say the cynical view is that there will be some reform, but the notion of owning a gun, and not just any old gun but a semi-automatic, is ingrained and it will be very hard to undo."

The academic said America has "everything" to learn from the benefits of our tougher gun laws.

Democrats have suggested a national commission should be established to examine mass shootings in the US.

At a vigil in the shattered Connecticut community Mr Obama read the names of the adults who died.

He finished by reading the first names of the children, all aged six or seven, slowly, in what has been described as the most wrenching moment of the night. Cries and sobs filled the room.

But David Dyson, a firearms consultant and expert on UK gun law, said tightening US firearms controls is far from straightforward in a country where the constitutional right "to keep and bear arms" dates back to 1789.

Even if Mr Obama were able to take on the power of America's gun lobby and curb the ability to buy weapons over-the-counter - what about all the guns already in circulation? Mr Dyson said: "It's far easier to buy a gun in the States than it is in many other places so there'll be a hell of a lot out there.

"What are you going to do about all the guns that are there that you don't know about?" Mr Dyson said amnesties in this country have resulted only in people who don't represent a threat handing over weapons, and the same would be sure to result across the Atlantic.

The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School may be one of the worst mass shootings in US history, but is the latest in the country's history of massacres at schools and colleges dating back decades.

The worst in US history was the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre when gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before killing himself.

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US Shaken by School Shootings but Action on Guns Is Unlikely; as the US Ponders Its Next Move Following One of the Worst School Shootings in Its History, Experts Say the Country Has Paid for Its Right to "Bear Arms" with a Catalogue of Almost Unparalleled Slaughter. Here, Darren Devine Explores How Far the Latest Massacre of Innocents Is Likely to Shake America's Faith in Its Gun Laws
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