It's a debate America has to have, but probably won't

Donald Trump makes a statement on the Las Vegas massacre at the White House.
PHOTO: REUTERS

Donald Trump makes a statement on the Las Vegas massacre at the White House.

As sure as night follows day, the inevitable spate of calls for tougher American gun control laws in the wake of Monday's Las Vegas massacre was quickly followed by a comment from the US Administration that it was not the right time for a debate.

And for once in its benighted existence, it was right. It's so far past time for a substantive debate on the barely-existent US gun laws that "time for the gun debate" is what it says on a milestone that's dwindled to a pinprick in its rear-view mirror.

And it will soon disappear altogether because "not the right time for the debate", even when reluctantly accompanied by an acknowledgement that "it's a debate we have to have" is surely just a stone-walling tactic, a way of pushing the issue onto the backburner long enough for it to drop off the radar.

Until the next major mass shooting, of course. According to a story by Ryan Lizza, of The New Yorker, Stephen Craig Paddock's mass murder - 58 confirmed dead at time of writing - is "according to one measure, the three hundred and thirty-eighth mass shooting" in the US this year. So plainly not all of them even make headlines. It takes one like this to really bring out the debate calls.

Just as in previous similar atrocities, most notably the Sandy Hook massacre, which saw numerous children killed, it seems doubtful anything will change as a result of Las Vegas. 

If that sounds overly cynical, consider the ongoing limp responses to the worst mass shooting in US history, the "thoughts and prayers with no call for action" tweets from Americans in high places, not to mention the bizarre "warm condolences" expressed by Donald Trump, fresh off his decidedly non-presidential response to the plight of residents of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Take a look at the Twitter account of Igor Volsky (@igorvolsky), the director of Guns Down (@gunsdownamerica), an organisation trying to dramatically reduce the guns in America from the estimated current tally of 300 million.

Since 2015, Volsky has been tweeting the amounts various American law-makers have allegedly received from the National Rifle Association (NRA), fighting to perpetuate the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution (the right to bear arms), alongside their avoid-the-issue-staring-everyone-in-the-face messages of condolence. It's eye-opening.

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For its part, the NRA, which retweeted a picture of a machine-gun last week in celebration of #FullAutoFriday, and a Texas Tribune story alongside the words "New Texas law lowers fees for handgun licenses: 1st time fee for a license to carry went from $140 to $40! #Winning", has observed complete radio silence on its account since the massacre.

It's telling, disgusting. In the face of the only possible answer to this ongoing outrage, a dramatic reduction in firearms, it couldn't be clearer that there are many for whom the right to bear arms is more important than human lives.

That's woeful. Enough is enough.

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 - Stuff

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