Russia Battles Own Gun History

By Holdsworth, Nick | Variety, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Russia Battles Own Gun History


Holdsworth, Nick, Variety


In a country with its own fair share of terrorist tragedies - among the highest-profile were the Beslan massacre of 2004 that left 186 children dead, while 130 died in the Nord-Ost theater siege of 2002 - shootings in America rarely merit much more than a footnote on the evening news.

But Sandy Hook was different for the Russian media.

This was no terrorist plot, but the casual, psychotic violence of an individual armed with a combat assault rifle. Even in a country like Russia that has a love affair with guns for hunting, this was clearly an obscene act.

The story was headline news for days, with most reports focusing on the ease with which Americans can access highpowered military-style automatic weapons, rather than laying any blame on Hollywood's love of screen violence. While coverage tapered off after the shootings as Russians geared up for their New Year holidays, many news outlets covered the return to school of Sandy Hook survivors.

Russia's most-watched news station, pubcaster Channel One, devoted long reports to Americas gun culture.

Laying the blame on "psychopaths," the station noted that this was not the first time such a tragedy had occurred in America, and posed what it called a "dumb question": Why was the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms, more important than the right to life in America, where there are some 300 million guns in a population of 311 million.

In contrast, news coverage of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shootings in July was less extensive. And because that shooting took place during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," the Russian media did take time to examine the Hollywoodviolence connection. …

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