After countless instances of gun violence, which regularly robs over 10,000 Americans of their lives each year, many in mass murders, the American people seem finally to have awakened to the fact that we can, and must, put a stop to the proliferation of firearms in the U.S.
That it took the killing of twenty six- and seven-year-olds in a school in Newtown, CT to arouse the ire of so many people is a sad testimony to the general indifference to the suffering of others that has become, unfortunately, characteristic of our society.
Wayne LaPierre, the spokesman for the NRA, callously tried to blame gun violence on movies and video games. I'm living in Paris at the moment and I can bear witness to the fact that the French see all the violent movies we produce and play the same video games.
There are reportedly 33 gun deaths a day in the good old U.S.A. It's difficult to find comparable figures for the same years, but at GunPolicy.org, you can see that in 2009, there were 31,347 gun deaths in the U.S., compared with 1,864 in France. Granted, we have about six times the population of France, but consider this: In the U.S., 10.22 people are murdered per 100,000 citizens, while in France the number is .22. Yes, folks, in the good old U.S., you are more than 46 times more likely to be murdered by a looney with a gun than in France.
According to Philippe Coste, a staff correspondent for the weekly L'Express, "To get any category one or four weapons, like the Glock or the Sig Sauer used in Newtown, you need to be 21, to have joined a shooting range for the last six months, provided a blank criminal record and a certificate of physical and mental health not older than two weeks. Then, the local police precinct starts a "morality investigation" in your neighborhood that rivals the clearance work done by the FBI for anybody employed at the White House."
Furthermore: "Once you buy a gun, you still don't own it. Property rights don't apply to weapons. Even the European community, in spite of its principles of free enterprise and individual liberties, confirmed that there is no such thing as a right to own a weapon. A license is a temporary exception to the rule of prohibition. It is a privilege revoked after three years, before a new application."
Mr. Coste concludes, "I concur with the American gun lobby that gun control amounts to an obvious restriction of individual liberties. Like most French or European citizens, I would add a point: So what?"