Guns for Christmas

Newtown families grieve

(photo on Newtown families grieving, source The Guardian)

Those of us unfortunate enough to have checked this mornings news online (it didn’t make the Saturday papers) awoke to another horrific massacre in the US where 28 people have been shot dead, 20 of them children.

The shooting took place at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut when Adam Lanza, 20 went on a killing spree that included his own mother and father.

In Australia, we can only shake our heads and be thankful that when it comes to gun ownership, this is one where we have taken a different course to the USA. The actions of former PM John Howard deserve full credit for taking a strong decisive stand against gun ownership following the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania on April 28, 1996.

And although the familiar refrain in the US will now be ‘This is not the time for a debate on gun ownership’ – surely this doesn’t do justice to the victims. Last time this happened, at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin in September, and before that in August at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado – the response was the same.

It seems these killings are becoming unsurprising, banal, commonplace. As is the requisite outpouring of emotion.

And yet America can never find the ‘right time’ to have the serious debate and for it to be reflected in policy settings. But in a country that now has over 80 deaths from guns each day – its impossible to avoid or put off some tough decisions being made to reduce the number of guns in America.

Obama has just won a second term of office, a remarkable achievement for anyone, let alone the first black man to assume the presidency. If he can achieve that – surely he can find the strength to stare down the gun lobby and show some leadership in a country that is literally killing itself.

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