For the first time I have heard of NRA about few years ago, while watching Michael Moor’s Bowling for Columbine. It was just a documentary for me then, although quite overwhelming and shocking, of course – but it was feeling as something very distant and unrelated.
I must admit that later on I became quite a fan of Mr. Moor’s documentaries which, in my personal opinion, quite vividly represent the hidden downside of American Dream – or whatever it had turned into. There was another very shocking documentary of his, Sicko – but that one would deserves a separate blog posting. So, let’s go back to guns.
The recent tragedy in Newtown was a terrible shock, raising a huge wave of outcry and public discussion in all mass media venues. It was absolutely unbearable to see photos of those children, each one of them could have had become a great scientist, artist, contributing to the humanity – and quite simply should have just had their life to be lived and enjoyed.
At the same time, with probably a difference of a day or two, similar tragedy took place in China, again targeting children. This time an assaulter is armed by the knife – and, as a result, children were wounded – but all of them were alive, no one died.
For me personally just comparing these two horrific events together was the best possible proof of necessity for the gun control. Probably as a foreigner I cannot understand the awe of Americans for guns; I cannot understand how after Newtown tragedy people could actually advocate for increasing number of guns in society for the sake of peace and tranquility. So many discussions in attempts to blame the weak control over mental care issues, violence in mass media and movies, etc, etc – but not the guns accessibility for this horrific tragedy.
I just don’t understand it, honestly. So I am trying to contemplate on what happened and what consequences will be – related to introducing stricter gun controls, although after witnessing continuing discussions I don’t believe something will change. I wanted to refresh my memory on the Bowling for Columbine, so I googled the documentary, and here are some excerpts describing segments of the documentary from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_for_Columbine
Cited from the website:
“Moore conducts an interview with Evan McCollum, Director of Communications at a Lockheed Martin plant near Columbine, and asks him:
“So you don’t think our kids say to themselves, ‘Dad goes off to the factory every day, he builds missiles of mass destruction. What’s the difference between that mass destruction and the mass destruction over at Columbine High School?'”
“I guess I don’t see that specific connection because the missiles that you’re talking about were built and designed to defend us from somebody else who would be aggressors against us.”
 “What a Wonderful World” montage
The film then cuts to a montage of American foreign policy decisions, with the intent to contradict McCollum’s statement by citing examples of how the United States has frequently been the aggressor nation. This montage is set to the song “What a Wonderful World” performed by Louis Armstrong.
The following is an exact transcript of the onscreen text in the Wonderful World segment:
1. 1953: U.S. overthrows Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq of Iran. U.S. installs Shah as dictator.
2. 1954: U.S. overthrows democratically-elected President Arbenz of Guatemala. 200,000 civilians killed.
3. 1963: U.S. backs assassination of South Vietnamese President Diem.
4. 1963-1975: American military kills 4 million people in Southeast Asia.
5. September 11, 1973: U.S. stages 1973 Chilean coup d’état in Chile. Democratically-elected President Salvador Allende assassinated. Dictator Augusto Pinochet installed. 3,000 Chileans murdered.
6. 1977: U.S. backs military rulers of El Salvador. 70,000 Salvadorans and four American nuns killed.
7. 1980s: U.S. trains Osama bin Laden and fellow terrorists to kill Soviets. CIA gives them $3 billion.
8. 1981: Reagan administration trains and funds the Contras. 30,000 Nicaraguans die.
9. 1982: U.S. provides billions of dollars in aid to Saddam Hussein for weapons to kill Iranians.
10. 1983: The White House secretly gives Iran weapons to kill Iraqis.
11. 1989: CIA agent Manuel Noriega (also serving as President of Panama) disobeys orders from Washington. U.S. invades Panama and removes Noriega. 3,000 Panamanian civilian casualties.
12. 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait with weapons from U.S.
13. 1991: U.S. enters Iraq. Bush reinstates dictator of Kuwait.
14. 1998: Clinton bombs possible weapons factory in Sudan, which supplied the Sudanese population with vaccines and pharmaceuticals.
15. 1991 to present: American planes bomb Iraq on a weekly basis. U.N. estimates 500,000 Iraqi children die from bombing and sanctions.
16. 2000-2001: U.S. gives Taliban-ruled Afghanistan $245 million in aid.
17. Sept. 11, 2001: Osama bin Laden uses his expert CIA training to murder 3,000 people.
The montage then ends with handheld-camera footage of the second WTC plane crash, the audio consisting solely of the hysterical reactions of the witnesses, recorded by the camera’s microphone.”
Interesting, isn’t it? There was another part that caught my attention, on the same website:
Moore follows up his climate of fear thesis by exploring the popular explanations as to why gun violence is so high in the United States. He examines Marilyn Manson as a cause, but states that German citizens listen to Marilyn Manson more per capita and that the country has a larger Goth population than does the United States, with less gun violence (Germany: 381 incidents per year). He examines violent movies, but notes that they have the same violent movies in other countries, showing The Matrix with French subtitles (France: 255 incidents per year). He also examines video games, but observes that many violent video games come from Japan (Japan: 39 incidents per year). He concludes his comparisons with the suggestion that the United States’ violent history is the cause, yet negating that with the violent histories of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom (UK: 68 incidents per year). Moore ends his segment with gun-related-deaths-per-year statistics of a few major countries:
• Japan: 39 (0.030/100,000)
• Australia: 65 (0.292/100,000)
• United Kingdom: 68 (0.109/100,000)
• Canada: 165 (0.484/100,000)
• France: 255 (0.389/100,000)
• Germany: 381 (0.466/100,000)
• United States: 11,127 (3.601/100,000)”
Wow! So, I still cannot understand gun advocates. Although, I understand it in my own way – that there is a single reason behind that hysteria around Second Amendment – and it is just about pure profits from gun sales, simple marketing strategy for maintaining and developing the market of this product.
Thank God, not all Americans are “gun nuts”. Literally few months before the Newtown tragedy there was a conversation between some of my current colleagues and how they, mildly expressed, strongly disagree with the NRA’s position. One of my colleagues, young educated professional woman, a descendent of Minnesota pioneers, and a mother of a little toddler, admitted that she is seriously considering relocation to Canada – solely for the reason of overwhelming violence and gun use in the US. She just wants to do everything to provide her child with a right to live.