Paul Little at large

Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Zero logic in right to bear arms

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America has 311 million people and 300 million guns. If nothing else, the reaction to the massacre of the innocents at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, has shown the rest of the world what Americans apparently take for granted - the pervasiveness of gun culture.

If anything could make this plain for outsiders it was seeing the advertisement used to sell one of the weapons used by Adam Lanza, with the slogan "Consider your man card reissued".

Or the suggestion by Gun Owners of America's executive director, Larry Pratt, that teachers should carry concealed weapons.

Or the number of people who went on to the NBC network's website during the broadcast of President Barack Obama's speech at Sandy Hook complaining that Sunday night football had been pre-empted.

Obama's speech was one of the most vacuous of his presidency. Bursting with platitudes and generalities, it highlighted among other things the inadequacy of religion to deal with something this monstrous.

When he said of the 20 children who had been pulverised by a weapon firing 45 rounds a minute that "God has called them home", my skin crawled.

He wisely did not try to explain why God needed these children more than their parents, brothers, sisters and friends.

It was a relief to hear two days later that he has specific plans for laws that will reduce the number of guns in the hands of those with murder in their hearts.

At first, the National Rifle Association, the powerful pro-gun lobby group, reacted like any bully. It performed the social media equivalent of running away and hiding by taking down its Facebook page so people couldn't say mean things about it.

It took four days to come up with any official comment on Sandy Hook. Then it reverted to form and came out guns blazing, in favour of more firearms, not fewer.

A much-quoted piece titled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" by a woman whose son exhibits behaviours similar to those of Lanza, almost derailed the argument by turning it into one about mental illness.

Gun manufacturers must have breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of this ceasing to be an issue of gun control. For a minute, a strange view began to gain ground: semi-automatic weapons firing 45 rounds per minute don't kill people. Crazy people kill people.

There is a lot we don't know about Adam Lanza and why he embarked on his slaughter using a Bushmaster AR-15, a Glock 10mm and a Sig Sauer 9mm. But we know one thing that should make it easier for US lawmakers to work out how to proceed: he was only able to do it because his mother was legally able to buy and keep those guns and encouraged his gun use.


At this time of year, it's customary to look around for people who have made a difference and pay them tribute. I would normally pick the likes of Jim Hunt, whose quixotic mission to sail the length of the Waikato on a Lilo I have paid tribute to on this page before.

So it was pleasing to learn that two talented filmmakers, with the help of NZ on Air - or, as it's usually called, taxpayers' dollars - recorded this odyssey in a documentary called A Bit Mental and that TV3 has agreed to broadcast it.

It was less pleasing to see that the network plans to screen it at 4pm on New Year's Eve, when the only people who will see it are those who are laid up as the result of holiday period accidents or who have shut-in syndrome.

- Herald on Sunday

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