Daily Archives: April 19, 2007

VATech: Dying to Protect the Crazies (Updated)

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(Cartoon by Jim Borgman)

Scott Horton, Harper’s worthy answer to Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald, quotes some of the European press on the VATech shooting. Unlike the coverage here, it ain’t about immigration or Cho’s anger or the school’s slow response or the heartbreaking stories of the victims’ lives. It’s about one thing: the guns. Excerpts:

Hamburg’s Der Spiegel runs a summary of press reactions across Europe and finds that Charlton Heston and the NRA are repeatedly singled out as responsible for the tragedy. “The shooting at Virginia Tech is the result of America’s woeful lack of serious gun control laws.

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Madrid’s El País, puts the blame squarely on the National Rifle Association and reproduces a photograph of Charlton Heston brandishing a rifle. “[C]ontrol measures,“ writes that paper, ”are systematically challenged by an abusive interpretation of the Second Amendment….”

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The conservative London Times writes “But why, we ask, do Americans continue to tolerate gun laws and a culture that seems to condemn thousands of innocents to death every year, when presumably, tougher restrictions, such as those in force in European countries, could at least reduce the number?”

Horton, a lawyer, concludes:

Around the world, America is being portrayed as a land of wanton violence, obsessed with firearms—as the locus of a bizarre death cult. The grounds for this are not simply what happened at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, but the way the American public has reacted to these tragedies.

Or not reacted. Despite the furor after Columbine, absolutely NOTHING was done to control the sale of deadly weapons. The Pub Congress refused to extend the assault weapons ban, and even relatively painless strengthening of gun registration laws were rejected practically without discussion. In fact, gun laws have actually been loosened in the 12 years of Republican rule.

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