"America's Malaise"
Right to Bear Arms is Wrong
By Ken Oxley

Screw the constitution. Surely that's the conclusion any right-minded American will have reached by now. The slaughter of innocents in Virginia is the latest in a sickening series of preventable massacres. And it won't be the last so long as the second amendment - the right to bear arms - is stubbornly upheld.

Every year more than 30,000 Americans die from gunshot wounds - that's at least 82 a day... a figure that makes the UK's 2005/6 death toll of 50 pale into insignificance. And all because guns have become every bit as ingrained in American culture as mom's apple pie and the Fourth of July.

In Virginia, the only restriction on owning a gun is that you cannot buy more than 12 in a year. How utterly insane is that?

What is even more terrifying, however, is America's unwillingness to deal with the problem. Deep down, US politicians must realise that the only way forward is to restrict gun ownership. Better still, introduce a gun amnesty and begin a lengthy, but necessary process of outlawing these lethal weapons. Countless studies have shown this to be the only viable solution to America's malaise. As long ago as 1993, eminent criminologist Professor Martin Killias concluded: "The level of gun ownership worldwide is directly related to murder and suicide rates."

But while some liberal-minded politicians may support such a move, few are prepared to stick their head above the parapet... for fear of it being shot off. Standing up to the all-powerful gun lobby buys you a one-way ticket to the far end of the political wilderness. No one appreciates that more than George Bush, who quietly allowed legislation that would have prevented people buying automatic assault rifles to lapse.

Already, there have been thousands of newspaper articles published about deranged gunman Cho Seung-Hui's victims, complete with gut-wrenching stories of how their hopes and dreams were snuffed out. There will be soul-searching TV documentaries to follow. And no doubt we can look forward to Virginia Tech - The Movie, once a suitable amount of time has elapsed for grief to subside... and a script to surface.

But will any of it make the slightest bit of difference to public opinion? Will US citizens - and politicians in particular - bite the bullet rather than embrace it and have the courage to call for fundamental changes to the American way of life? Of course they won't. There's simply too much money - and votes - riding on keeping the gun lobby sweet.

Tragically, Virginia Tech - The Sequel, may already be in the pipeline.


(*) Ken Oxley is a columnist for the Sunday Sun
--> This article originally appeared on Sunday Sun