Saturday, 15 December 2012
Five questions after Connecticut shootings
1. President Obama's speech in the aftermath of the Connecticut killings was indeed impressive, particularly when he spoke of the children whose lives had been brutally snuffed out. Twenty lives ended before they'd properly begun - who wouldn't feel like weeping. Q: Did the president weep also for the 168 children killed in Pakistan since 2004 by drone bombs? Not to mention the civilians killed - somewhere between two and three thousand?
2. Every day in the US, thirty-four more people die in shooting incidents. If all human lives are equally valuable - and they are - then the president should have been weeping on a daily basis, especially as he has done nothing in the past four years to curb the gun lobby in the US. Is 26 people killed on the one spot by one person worse than 34 people killed by different people in a variety of areas?
3. At the last poll on the subject, only 25% of respondents in the US favoured a tightening of gun laws. This despite Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and other appalling events. How and why is it that Americans appear not to get it? And are they likely to get it, now 20 small children have been slaughtered?
4. Shootings and killings are a central part of thousands of Hollywood movies. I was reared myself on a diet of Audie Murphy, Gary Cooper and Gene Autry. And how we all love just love Clint Eastwood when he says "I know what you're thinking. 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun inthe world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" My question: is this cinema diet really good for us?
5. There are 153,450 legally-held weapons in Northern Ireland. The youngest owner is 17, the oldest 103. Eight people own between 150 and 175 weapons each. Nearly 3,000 are held as 'personal protection weapons' by, among others, ex-PSNI and prison officers. So you've got to ask yourself one question: does a divided society need all those weapons in private hands? OK - make it two questions: are these weapons evenly distributed among unionists and nationalists. Because an imbalance would surely be alarming for the side without killing instruments.