by awindram

CNN Transcript. Friday 14 December, 2012.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN anchor: “Is there anything we can learn from this and move forward to try and make sure this doesn’t happen again?”

Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director: “No.”

WB: “It’s going to happen again?”

TF: “It’s going to happen again. We don’t change anything of the basics. We haven’t made the improvements to our mental health system to take care of people that are severely disturbed. We haven’t done anything to prevent the severely disturbed from obtaining the weapons that are so prevalent in our societies. So as long as you have disturbed people able to obtain weapons and act out with those weapons…”

WB: “…cos a lot of folks immediately, as soon as they hear this, they’ll say that assault weapons, guns, are too available, too easy to get…”

TF: “…well, what we say now is, ‘you can’t talk about it. Everyone is in mourning, it’s too soon, it’s not appropriate.’ So at the time later when it is appropriate – we don’t care. Nothing changes. And I had a daughter at Virginia Tech down the hall from the first shooting, the first two people that were killed in that dorm, ten rooms away, so that hit home for me very closely. What has changed since then? Not one thing in the state of Virginia has changed. I don’t expect much will change here.”

The reason I maintain this blog is that I feel – whether it’s true or not – that by putting into words my own inconsequential thoughts about the US it helps me come to a better understanding of this country. For the most part, what I leave are fairly glib observations of little merit but possessed of an unjustified and unattractive sense of superiority. Occasionally, however, I leave the glibness behind and comment on matters relating to US politics or US religion and in doing so immediately betray my own position as a center-left western European. Certain facets of the US will probably always remain unfathomable to me.

The debate around the second amendment is one. Paranoid sociopaths are not unique to the US, shootings like today are not unique to the US (though they are more frequent), but not many countries (Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala have it to varying degrees) have a “right to bear arms.”

I don’t want to pontificate on this issue, I am not in a position to, and clearly this is also largely about mental health treatment in the US, but specifically on the matter of the second amendment I would appreciate from my tiny readership if some of you could explain your feelings on this matter to me so I can try and make sense of this issue better from an American perspective – both pro and anti.

Is this a right you feel vital to an American’s liberty or is it an antediluvian way of thinking a populace in this day and age can keep check on its government in this manner? How is gun ownership balanced with gun safety? What level of gun control, if any, would be permissible? A return to the ban on assault weapons? Increased background checks? Why should background checks not be required at gun shows?

How divisive would any form of gun control be? Do you think even more minor changes such as improving background checks and bringing back the assaults weapons ban would be met negatively? Could it, in the words of the BBC’s Justin Webb, “result in a rural/metro and north/south divide and something like a new civil war?”

Feel free to post anonymously if you feel more comfortable doing so.