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Posted by on Apr 5, 2009 in Politics | 806 comments

Why America Must Address Gun Control (Guest Voice)

Why America Must Address Gun Control

by Dalitso Njolinjo

As an avid hip hop fan, I never took the lyrics and violent messages of America as a corrupting influence which played a part in the increase of violence in urban areas. I never subscribed to the notion the 2-Pac made young black men in South-Central Los Angeles kill their peers. When my favorite rappers veered into subjects of violence and gun play, my thought always seem to lead me to one question, how do they get these guns so easily?

I also found that you could hear the pain of poverty and frustration in the voices of American urban culture makers which led me to reassess my view on America. While it was the Bush Administration that did this for many other Europeans (and some Americans), my disappointment during the (Clinton) Bush years was the inability for America to adequately focus on the bigger picture behind the political issues and news stories.

I remember the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and how the American press dealt with the news story. Instead of having a serious conversation about gun crime and gun control, the majority of the news stories based on sensationalism. ‘The Trench Coat Mafia’, ‘they played violent video games’, ‘they were fans of Marilyn Manson’ and ‘they were fans of Natural Born Killers’. No real deconstruction of how they were able to obtain the murder weapons — and as soon as the conversation did veer towards gun control, the NRA would call foul play and blame someone in pop culture.

Fast forward to the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, what did Fox News ‘journalist’ Bill O’Reilly want to talk about? At the time of the Virginia Tech massacre, the now president of the DNC, Governor Tim Kaine said, “To those who want to make this into some sort of crusade, I say take this elsewhere.”

I fundamentally disagree with that statement. When children or students can not be guaranteed of their safety when they are in a place of learning, somewhere, someone is failing them. When anyone can purchase a fire arm with such ease and with impunity and thereafter go and take somebody’s life, someone somewhere has failed the victims.

I know for gun owners and gun rights activists it is a matter of individual freedom (even though I think that American courts have misinterpreted the framers original intent for the second amendment), but when innocent citizens are murdered, don’t you have to reassess priorities?

Political 101 says never waste a tragedy and I hope Mr Obama takes the opportunity of the New York killings to lead the country in a respectful conversation on gun control.

I don’t know why this story has affected me as much as it has. I could never imagine such a thing happening here in the UK and on the rare occasions when they do, it seems the country pulls together more to strengthen our gun laws. That is one thing this European is proud of.

Dalitso Njolinjo lives in Northamptonshire, England. He is an aspiring writer and communications consultant. He writes that he “enjoys all things politics, sports and French. The ungodly trinity.” He also writes on his own blog.

EDITOR’S NOTE UPDATE: For more background on the history of mass shootings in the United States GO HERE.