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Weapon Industry Profits or Innocent Life: Americans Have to Choose (News, Switzerland)


"Like a vampire in the sun, the pro-gun arguments crumble in the light of facts. Ultimately, the interests of a $1 billion industry that sells millions of guns in the U.S. every year must be weighed against innocent lives. A ban on assault rifles for private individuals must be the first consequence of this horror. Gun legislation, less focused on commercial interests, must be the next."


By Patrik Etschmayer



Translated By Stephanie Martin


December 18, 2012


News – Switzerland – Original Article (German)

There are things we would really rather not know. A closer examination of the Newtown massacre is nearly unbearable for any compassionate person. To imagine the scenes that must have taken place is devastating. The only way to analyze this event is with cold detachment.


Twenty-eight people are dead: twenty children, seven adults, and the 20-year-old murderer. The gunman, Adam Lanza, used a semiautomatic Bushmaster assault rifle for most of the murders. He allegedly suffered from developmental and personality disorders, for example, he was insensitive to pain. The weapons he used all belonged to his mother, whose hobby is was, and according to several sources, she possessed seven firearms, and was a "survivalist" preparing for the coming Apocalypse. His mother was Lanza's first victim. The gunman's motive is unknown.


These details do nothing to diminish the pain, nor the horror, that the perpetrator caused. But neither can a book of 1,000 pages, filled with the most compassionate words of a hundred poets. The pain felt by a father or mother whose small child, kissed goodbye one last time that morning, never to return because he or she was shot by a madman in kindergarten, cannot be put into words. So it is best that we not attempt it.


But the details reveal pieces of a puzzle, one of which if missing, would have spared some, if not many, of the victims.


Of course, it all begins with the firearms. The right to own a gun is sacrosanct in the United States - a relic of the country's founding years, which were shaped as a result of the fight against colonial power Great Britain. But in recent decades, an upgrade has taken place in the context of those guns, as well as the Bushmaster M4-A3 assault rifle, which, thanks to its 16-inch barrel, was always popular, and can be purchased with a gun license.


[Editor's Note: The Bushmaster, under current U.S. law, is classified as a rifle, thanks to its 16-inch barrel.]


This type of assault rifle should be banned - plain and simple. There is no good reason (neither for hunting nor self-defense) to own an item like this, except perhaps to show off at the shooting range or commit a massacre.


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The only reason they are sold is greed. On the Bushmaster Web site, the assault rifles are advertised at prices between $840 and $2500. The fact that they have just been used in such deadly fashion against elementary school children isn't mentioned, however.


Currently, the discussion is primarily focused on the person of the assassin and his alleged Asperger's Syndrome (a mild form of autism). The fact is that at this point, it isn't clear whether Lanza actually had this syndrome, whether he had another personality disorder, or whether he was just an eccentric. But in the United States, if he did suffer from a personality disorder, he would probably have remained untreated, unless he had been officially declared a danger to society, or in other words, a criminal. 


After an initial incident involving the authorities, parents who don't want to have their children arrested obviously feel they have no one to turn to. While there is a tendency in Europe to immediately examine anything unusual at every stage of development and to rely excessively on therapy, in the U.S., the only alternatives appear to be to "ignore" or to "institutionalize."


Incredible as it may seem, and despite the meager amount of information available, the debate in some circles is already moving in the direction of "we need more weapons in order to protect our children from autistic killers." Of course, no one mentions that Lanza killed his mother, the first of his victims - with her own gun. All the guns used in the shooting were registered and purchased legally. The firing rate and magazine size of the assault rifle (the manufacturer offers magazines with 40 bullets) were what made the mass murder possible in the first place.




What role the mother's weapons and end-of-the world craziness played is as unclear as the motive for the massacre - but we can twist and turn it any way we like. The gunman may be central to the killings, but without the assault rifle, he wouldn't have been able to cause nearly as much damage. On the same day in China, for instance, twenty children were injured by a knife-wielding attacker, but none were killed.


Every school massacre, every shooting spree, has its own dynamic. But in every case over the last twenty years, a large number of the shooting injuries and deaths would not have been possible without access by the perpetrators to firearms. And in no case were the killers stopped by firearms in the hands of private individuals, which reduces the argument "firearms offer protection during mass shootings" to an absurdity. Only with the arrival of police and other emergency services are such horrors put to an end.   

Posted by Worldmeets.US


Like a vampire in the sun, the pro-gun arguments crumble in the light of facts. Ultimately, the interests of a $1 billion industry that sells millions of guns in the U.S. every year must be weighed against innocent lives. A ban on assault rifles for private individuals must be the first consequence of this horror. Gun legislation, less focused on commercial interests, must be the next. And perhaps in the future, Obama's health care reform will ensure that children and young people with serious mental health problems receive the treatment they need.


The most important part of the puzzle is well-known. If the Obama Administration doesn't manage to address this problem, Obama's second term will once again begin with a defeat - not just for him, but for all the victims of Sandy Hook and their loved ones.



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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Dec. 23, 2:39pm]