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Questions I Ask Myself About the Connecticut School Shooting

Posted on Dec 16, 2012
AP/Julio Cortez

Officers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., after Friday’s massacre.

By Juan Cole

This piece originally appeared on Juan Cole’s Web page, Informed Comment.

I ask myself, “Why?”

Why do U.S. cable news networks intensively cover these mass shootings, making it the only story for a day or two and prying into every detail of them, when they aren’t interested in preventing them from happening again through banning semiautomatic weapons?  Is it just, like, a natural disaster to them?

Why don’t the news anchors or discussants ever bring up the simple fact that between 1994 and 2004, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994: The Federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited assault weapons?  The prohibition was not unconstitutional.  Congress foolishly put in a 10-year sunset provision, and of course Bush and his Republican Congress allowed it to expire.

Why doesn’t anyone blame George W. Bush for these mass shootings?  He’s the one who led the charge to let the assault weapons ban expire.  Why aren’t the politicians in Congress who take campaign money from assault weapons manufacturers ever held accountable by the public?

Why don’t the news programs bring up the reported moves of Sen. Dianne Feinstein to prepare new legislation banning assault weapons and their accoutrements?  Are they so afraid of the NRA that they can’t even discuss the legislative process in public?

What in the world does the 2nd amendment have to do with these incidents?  Do they look like a “well-regulated militia” to you?  Semi-automatic weapons are the 18th-century equivalent of artillery in terms of their ability to kill.  Do you think people should be allowed to have artillery pieces in their back yards, too?  Is this some sort of sick joke, that you are telling us our children have to die because the Founding Fathers wanted madmen to have high-powered weaponry?

Why does complaining about semiautomatic weapons (and the means to make them fully automatic by attaching e.g. ammunition drums) being freely available always devolve into an argument about gun control and hunting?  No one minds if people buy rifles to shoot deer with in the countryside.  An ordinary, non-automatic rifle can’t produce a mass killing like that in Connecticut because it cannot get off so many rounds so quickly.  Nobody hunts with an automatic pistol, and if they do, they should be publicly shamed by, like a group of hot girls calling them wusses as they set off in their hunting jackets.

Why aren’t there more class-action lawsuits against the people responsible for the proliferation of high-powered weaponry in our society?  Lax gun laws and inadequate security checks in Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky and 7 other states meant that they supplied nearly half the 43,000 guns traced to crime scenes in other states in one recent year.  The guns aren’t randomly acquired, and they aren’t used or Saturday night specials.  They come disproportionately from specific states. 

Likewise, a relatively small number of corporations produce and market semiautomatic weapons for the civilian market.  Why aren’t they named and shamed?

Why doesn’t anyone on these news channels ever mention that firearms are used in 300,000 crimes a year in the U.S.?

Why doesn’t anyone on television news ever simply give this statistic:  In one recent year, there were 39 murders by gun in the U.K., but 9,000 in the United States?  Why is it wrong to let Americans know how peculiar is the situation Americans have to live in?


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