US President Barack Obama couldn’t hold back the tears when he went on TV on Friday and sent condolences to those who lost their loved ones in the massacre of innocents in Newtown, Connecticut last week. Twenty children — aged 6 and 7 — and seven adults, including the gunman’s own mother, were killed in that carnage.
If you’re a father — like Obama, like I am — you would be stricken with grief and anxiety. Any of those children could have been yours. You’d want to reach out to all those who lost a child, a sibling or a parent in that tragedy. Our hearts are broken.
So, I know where those presidential tears are coming from.
After the grief and the anxiety, you might rage with anger. How could this heartless, brainless savagery happen again and again? How could assault firearms with enormous killing power be so easily available to homicidal maniacs? Why doesn’t the government do something?
It sounds crazy, but the claim is credible that in the United States, it’s easy to buy guns by the dozens, bazookas and even tanks. You can walk into some army surplus store and you can buy enough of these to equip a battalion without anybody raising a fuss.
And it would be legal.
In this light, some of Obama’s words are worth repeating: “As a country, we have been through this too many times … And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Regardless of the politics. Let’s hope.
For if there is a lobby in the United States that is more powerful and more feared by politicians than the Zionist lobby, it’s the lobby of the National Rifle Association.
The bodies of the slain were still lying where they fell when a talking head of the NRA was already on TV defensively rattling off statistics that the incidence of murder was the lowest in places where there was no gun control.
And no doubt, when the debate on gun control is launched in any American legislature, conservative politicians in the pocket of the NRA will piously invoke the Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Of course, the history behind this amendment has to do with the American founding fathers’ distrust of a strong central government.
But the life of the law is not logic, it’s experience. And the American people have suffered enough tragic experiences to justify a reinterpretation of the Second Amendment as referring to the right of states to maintain militias, and not to the right of an individual citizen to arm himself to the teeth with machine guns.
By the way, the debate between the NRA and the gun control activists is not just an American affair. Perhaps prompted by American gun manufacturers, the NRA is fiercely opposing the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which would curb the international trade in small arms.
The United States has joined 156 other nations, including Indonesia, in voting for the conclusion of the treaty in March, but the NRA is pressuring the US Senate to scupper it on grounds of the Second Amendment.
This means assault rifles manufactured in the US will continue to find their way to other parts of the world, including Southeast Asia, where there is already a proliferation of these weapons.
Eventually they are wielded by terrorists and warlords like the Ampatuans in the southern Philippines who three years ago massacred 57 individuals, including 37 journalists.
In the shadow of that gun lobby, today we join President Obama in shedding tears for the slain children of Newtown.
Tomorrow, whose turn will it be to weep?