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John Simkin

Guns in the USA

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The whole world is in deep shock about the killing of the five girls by Charles Carl Roberts in a Pennsylvania Amish school yesterday. It is the third fatal school shooting in the United States over the last five days.

Why does this kind of crime take place? While it is an extremely rare event in other countries, it seems to be a regular occurance in the US. Is it just about gun ownership. If so, is there any chance that the American people will change their mind on this issue.

I heard one expert on the BBC last night saying that the real problem is the desire of American people to be famous. She said that mass killings do not always make the front page. Therefore, they need to commit outrageous crimes such as the killing of young girls in order to guarrantee appearing in the news.

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Oh, my, John.....I think I know the answer, but it is not easily put down in less than a book....the problem is not [really] guns per se, but violence and the celebration of it. I think the government sets the tone for the country by demonstrating that violence is the means to use to solve problems...ie Vietnam, Iraq, ad nauseum and talk [diplomacy for the nation, discussion or seeing a counselor or psychiatrist for a person] are out. Add to that, tender lovemaking is banned from movies or discussion on radio etc...but watching someone blown to bits, shot at, etc. is not.... America is a deeply sick country with false and twisted values. Most Americans are seething just under the surface with many discontents - loss of job; stress of work or life; false values or no values; seeing or sensing the long history of lies the country has lived [Dallas, Watergate, Iran-Contra, etc.] and the false meaningless values in society [need I list them?]....

Add to that, the availability of guns and all the shows on TV and films full to busting with violence and you get pathology...oh throw in junk food which [besides being a physical health risk] actually does change peoples mental state.....It is horrible, but it will keep happening...when I was last in America a few years ago the politically progressive bumper stickers on my car more than once got a gun pointed in my face.....the whole nation is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It comes from the top but fills all levels and all aspects of a very sick society...where the natural is loathed and false values are worshipped, where money and greed and violence are in and the example set at the top levels.....he was only doing what the nation continually does....kill innocents we don't know for no real good reason but our own pathology. As long as the nation does it the citizenry will follow the examples set...violent military, violent police, violent laws, violent movies and TV, violent ideas toward others and the other lifeforms on the planet.....sad....sad....sad.....

A good analysis of American society. The image of the United States portrayed via its movies is indeed appalling. As you point out, it is not only its violence but its deeply repressed sexuality. According to your movies, the US is full of angry, aggressive and violent people. In fact, when you visit the US you discover that the people are not nearly as bad as they are portrayed in the movies. However, some of them do come across as very aggressive on this Forum.

All societies have their fair share of “nutters”. However, the problem for the US is that these nutters are armed with guns.

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For some of the facts through a seamless collage of real footage watch "the Killing of America" (apparently it's been hard to get in the US. Is that still the case?)

http://www.angelfire.com/darkside/realmofh...r/killingof.htm

"Opening with a police shootout in which a gunman is shot dead in the middle of a busy high street...before moving onto the assassination of President John F Kennedy then looking at every other infamous violent crime that has rocked the U S A over the years.

From the race riots of the 50's, to the shooting of John Lennon, and the everyday gun violence faced by the police, the film covers a broad spectrum of their societies ills, and pulls no punches with its subject matter. Showing news reports of various police sieges and assassination attempts and even CCTV pictures of armed robberies as well as presenting interviews with the likes of Sirahn Sirahn ... serial killer Ed Kemper and good old Charlie Manson.

There's footage of the death of Martin Luther King, Texan bell tower sniper Charles Whitmore and ... perhaps the films most memorable moment ... a 3 minute scene showing the civil unrest that broke out across America's following it's participation in the Vietnam war, which is set to the tune of Buffalo Springfield's "For what it's worth".

The films main strength is that inspite of its grim subject matter its presented in a factual, and non-exploitive manner, which sets it apart from the likes of the "Faces of Death" films which were done solely to repulse the viewer.

Needless to say, the film has lost none of it's impact over the years, although my only minor criticism would be that it doesn't try to explain WHY things are as bad as they are, but never-the-less remains just as poignant today is it did then. Showing us how the American dream has gone dreadfully wrong."

For an insights into why, follow up with Michael Moore’s "Bowling For Columbine".

Edited by John Dolva

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For an insights into why, follow up with Michael Moore’s "Bowling For Columbine".

It is probably his best film. Interesting when he compares US to Canadian attitude towards gun crime.

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For a Swedish perspective …

You're fairly free to obtain firearms in Sweden, provided that you go on a basic safety course, register with the police and undergo an inspection at home, where you demonstrate that you are storing the weapons safely and securely (you have to have an approved gunsafe and separate the breech from the rest of the weapon).

If you get done for any offence, or show any medical condition which might lead you to be suspected of using firearms wrongly, they will be seized by the police. Being arrested for drunk driving is one of these cases.

I read in my local paper of an elk hunter who collapsed while waiting in his position. He couldn't be raised on the comradio, so his team called in a search party. They found him dead drunk … and all his weapons were seized by the police the same day. He now has to apply to the court to have them restored … and will almost certainly have to undergo treatment for incipient alcoholism, plus do another course on firearms safety before he's allowed to have them back.

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That sounds really good, David. Sensible. Guns are dangerous like cars, you need to be trained and licenced etc to handle a car. Why not guns too?

re "the Killing of America", from memory, it does offer ideas on 'why'. I think a theme is seeing the assassination of Kennedy as a pivotal moment when such public displays of disrespect for life started to become common place and delivered by the then new live tv, and repeated endlessly in the news, and not just a clear struggle between 'good and evil', like war for example in cinema docos, or that veterans could come home and tell (or tell through silence) of their experiences.

Edited by John Dolva

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