Der Spiegel: “[The Newtown shooting] was no uncontrollable natural disaster.”

#Opinion

Thu, Dec 20th, 2012 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Calling gun ownership “an important, if misguided, element of the country's national identity,” German magazine Spiegel Online makes no apologies in pointing out that the massacre in Newtown on Friday “was no uncontrollable natural disaster.”

Once again, the United States is debating its gun laws, even if the discussion is likely to be short and inconclusive. But the real thing that must change (though it hardly will), is the misunderstanding that America’s formative myth of “freedom” allows for weapons to be as widespread as smart phones.

“I came to realize that, in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be,” writes Gregory Gibson, whose son Galen was killed in a 1992 shooting rampage, in a sad essay for The New York Times.

Why? Because guns have long been a part of America’s national identity. This may have been appropriate in times when colonial powers, the frontier and the myth of the evil central state still threatened the people. Since then, however, it has become fatally counterproductive, regardless of the Second Amendment’s guarantee of “the right to keep and bear arms.”

Today the gun seems like a relic from an era that will soon have slipped away. But the faster it disintegrates, the more desperately people reach for the relic. That’s likely what then Presidential candidate Barack Obama meant in 2008 when he described the existential fears of mainly white working class voters, who he said “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

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