United States

Dec 18, 2012

Sandy Hook massacre pivot point in wretched gun debate

The massacre of young children in Newtown was so nihilistic and meaningless that it has exposed the empty rhetoric and false illusions of the US gun lobby. From Connecticut, our writer-at-large braces for a long fight.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


With the first funerals from the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre being held today, the gun control debate has started swinging around for the first time in decades. After two days of mourning, small but active protests have begun, with an Occupy-organised crowd marching on the NRA headquarters in DC, Senate majority leader being joined by “Blue Dogs” such as nominal Democrat Joe Manchin from West Virginia in calling for legislative action based on assault weapons.

Former Mitt Romney advisors, GOP congressman-turned-broadcaster Joe Scarborough, and other have crossed the line to say that a real debate is required on what action to take. The pilot wave of this new movement was provided by the President, addressing the bereaved community of Newtown, telling the nation that “we’re not doing enough … and we will have to change”.

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57 thoughts on “Sandy Hook massacre pivot point in wretched gun debate

  1. Saugoof

    “Guns don’t kill people, people do”, guns just make it so much easier….

  2. Notmyname

    The answer could lie in the NRA’s name alone, National “Rifle” Association. Rifles, not assault weapons.

  3. paddy

    Well done Guy. A fine piece of sanity and realism amidst the chaos.
    The idea that traditional American “gun culture” might have actually reached its high water mark, is a stunning thought.
    But what an appalling horror was required to get there.
    Fingers crossed that the tide has truly turned.

  4. Phil L

    Guy, always loved your work, and the articles over the last two days make me respect it more.

    The sheer lunacy over the guns laws in America defies definition.

    The fact that so many of its citizens are terrified and paranoid about either the government or the neighbours is alien to me. Can anyone cite any research about why so many in the US feel the need to own assault rifles?

  5. Notmyname

    Phil L – I think you answered your own question, “Paranoid”. Get “him” before “he” gets me. Whoever Him and He may be.

  6. Liz45

    If I wanted to be really cruel, I could say that this tragedy is the fault of all Americans, including those whose children have been so horrifically murdered. When will they wake up? Get rid of these weapons. True, people pull the trigger, but if these weapons were not so readily available, without checks and balances at least, then this would NOT happen. Both Britain and Australia got these weapons out of the community AFTER such a horror – and there hasn’t been one since! (Sadly, I believe that Australia now has as many guns as were present when Port Arthur happened – need to tidy this up and soon!)

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve shed many tears since this horror unfolded! I should also add, that a similar number of children were killed in Afghanistan in recent days – without any sorrow from the West! I didn’t even know until a few hours ago! Hypocrisy rears its ugly head again!

    Anyone in the US can walk in and buy a gun. Laws have been lessened to the extent that in some States you can even take your gun to school, and have the right to shoot anyone you THINK may be a threat! Total and absolute madness! This has been borne out by the death in February of a young black teenager by a white ‘neighbourhood watch’ male? He’ll probably get let off scot free!

    A couple of sentences written down 200 years ago? The NRA have had the power – they’re the political arm of this prolific money spinner! Recent events appear to be removing some of their power – not one of their candidates was elected in the recent elections. Now’s the time for Obama to JUST DO IT! Get weapons of war off the streets, and make sure all applicants are scrutinised, and a law like ours, where weapons and ammunition have to be locked up in different places – and make sure police enforce these Laws! Only then will change be in evidence. Until then, we’ll all just wait until the next horrific tragedy!

    What price do they put on their kids? This god loving, god fearing country – the world’s biggest democracy, blah blah!

  7. tinman_au

    ““Guns don’t kill people, people do”, guns just make it so much easier….”

    Especially if that gun can fire 50+ rounds per minute…

  8. gerard

    People can make changes and constitutions are being rewritten all over the world. If this freedom (bearing arms) kills people, lets have less of it.
    In this global village it is not just America that ‘owns’ that kind of freedom and those that keep promoting guns are the ones on the trigger. The NRF and the supporting senators are the ones with the finger on the trigger. Bring those to account instead of the bodies of children now being burried.

  9. Bartlett Geoff

    From the distance of a casual observer, I don’t see a lot changing in the U.S. as a result of this (I would like to be shown wrong on this).
    Give it a few weeks, a month or two, and the gun lobby will be back in full voice.
    #5 on the Tea Party’s list of non-negotiable core principles: Gun Ownership is Sacred. No less than sacred.
    The Tea Party cold fade away as did Pauline Hanson; but many of her views were co-opted by the mainstream parties, so not much hope there.
    Meaningful gun control would require strong bi-partisan support and a willingness to commit electoral suicide for a principle. Any takers?

  10. Charles Richardson

    I wouldn’t worry much about the supreme court if I were you Guy. Sure, something like a blanket ban on handguns would probably be thrown out, but that’d have zero chance of getting thru congress in the first place. Anything that could conceivably get past congress would pretty clearly be constitutional.

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