But as could have been predicted, the European press is having a field day with this.
Across the continent on Tuesday, European media rubber-neck at Monday's massacre in the United States. Most seem to agree about one thing: The shooting at Virginia Tech is the result of America's woeful lack of serious gun control laws. In the strongest editorialized image of the day, German cable news broadcaster NTV flashed an image of the former head of the National Rifle Association, the US gun lobby: In other words, blame rifle-wielding Charlton Heston for the 33 dead.
However implicit or explicit you paint this, I do not think this can be pinned on Charlton alone. In fact, I would think that intelligent people could/would recognize it's a combination of factors, with no one thing that can be isolated as the root cause. If anyone is going to make a case against the NRA, they must also make a case against the other things that led us up to this point.
1. The de-sensitizing of of people through: a) Movies that both show and glorify gratuitous violence. b) Video games that do the same thing.
2. The mental state of the shooter. We can blame the gun, which is merely an inanimate object. But when it comes down to the crux of the matter, it was a deranged gunman that chose to pull it's trigger.
3. The lack of an effective tool to deny deranged and law-breaking people access to guns, while allowing sane law-abiding citizens the right to own them.
Papers reserve their sharpest criticism for the 2004 expiration of a 10-year ban on semi-automatic weapons under the then Republican-controlled Congress. Others comment on the pro-gun lobbying activities of Heston's NRA. Some papers also draw analogies between school shootings and Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers.
Irrelevant. These guns were not semi-automatic weapons. That's completely a separate argument and having this in place would not have prevented this tragedy.
No, there is no easy answer to this.
Many believe that if we had Europe's gun laws, this wouldn't have happened. Maybe, maybe not. No one can prove it with irrefutable solid evidence.
One of PYY's distinguished visitors from time to time is L'Amerloque.
At SF's blog, he makes a very poignant statement that is worthy of re-print, here in this instance:
In response to a specific part of SF's post on this:
In fact, I feel safer taking the metro in Washington than in Paris, rarely lock my car wherever I go in town, and often leave my house door unlocked.
Assuming that you don’t deal in drugs and/or live in some very limited neighborhoods, America by and large is a safe place.
Amerloque feels the same way about SoCal. (grin)
He has thought about this quite a lot (re: differences in France and the USA (grin)) and has come to a few conclusions.
One is that perception counts for quite a lot. It’s a matter of belief: with a gun, there is no middle ground. If the person facing the gun feels that the person holding the weapon will use it, then the person facing the gun will behave. If the person doesn’t believe, then he/she will do whatver she/he wants. It is then incumbent upon the person holding the weapon to use it. He/she must shoot. There is no middle ground (except, perhaps, shooting to “wound”, which is a bit haphazard, indeed …). That’s why Tasers have equipped many US police departments and “tonfas” and “flashballs” have equipped many French municipal forces: they allow a graduated response, just like a simple “billy club” used to. This is also why the CRS and police in riot situations in France do not pull their guns and not fire. The element of “belief” would be negated. If a French cop pulls a gun out of the holster, he will use it. It is a last resort.
Another conclusion: in Washington, or LA, or Podunk, a burglar or carjacker will hesitate mightily before breaking in or making off with the car, for one very good reason: the supposed “victim” may well be armed and open fire on the criminal. The criminal will be blown away. The plea in court might very well be “self defense”.
The plea may be self-defense, but the shooter may end up dead. Dead men tell no tales. It may be not be a deterrent in all instances. But I would be willing to bet this would be a significant factor, in some people's decisions as whether to commit an act of violence or brazen theft, or not.
Europeans hear of the savagery that sometimes rears its ugly head on this side of the ocean, sometimes in a very skewed way. Images of the wild west era are drawn up by critics, whereby people are packing pistols, holding up the stage coach, riding into town to get drunk and shoot up the town, and other things that conjure up the belief that America is out of control. But despite this active attempt to persuade Euros to believe this inaccurate portrayal, the US does not have the highest murder rate per capita, at least not according to this website. Despite being 24th overall on this list, the fact remains we have more than many of us are willing to accept. Wikipedia bears this out, as well (although the latest stats on this table, shows the US as #22).
Another problem I see is one of culture. The movies and the video games seem to reinforce murder as a sport. Anytime a movie such as Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse can open up number one at the box office due to pre-release hype on how gory the movie really is, and anytime a video game such as Grand Theft Auto can sell like hotcakes to kids, we must look at the culture issue as a contributing factor. I don't know how well these two things go over in Europe, but they are close to mainstream status here. This may play a small role in explaining why kids are committing more violent crimes.
Again, despite not being in the top twenty, we can take very little solace in that fact. One, in my view, is too many. Each victim has a name, a face, and an identity. Although it's not realistic to expect there will be no murders ever, it's not something many of us are ready are willing to tolerate (at least not after something as heinous and tragic as what occurred Monday in Blacksburg, Virginia). And although our European friends have us beat in this department in the post-modern era, it is estimated that there were 20 murders per 100,000 in medieval times.
The bottom line here is, violence is not going to go away as long as there are those that have little value for human life. That point transcends all nations and all cultures.