26 December 2012

A Farewell to Arms 永别了,武器

America is a bizarre country. To be an American – or to live in America – is to accept a few things that defy common sense. For starters, pizza is considered a “vegetable” under federal law. Two tablespoons of tomato paste on the dough is enough to make the pie healthy enough to be served at every public school cafeteria. Speaking of health, emergency rooms across the country routinely turn down trauma patients who fail to produce proof of health insurance. Facing skyrocketing healthcare costs, the uninsured are left for dead and the insured are worried sick about rising deductibles and annual premiums. Not bizarre enough? Here's another good one: gun shootings have become so commonplace that the evening news no longer reports them unless they are deemed a “shooting rampage.” And each time after a massacre, gun enthusiasts line up outside Wal-Mart to stock up on assault weapons for fear of tougher gun laws. That’s right, in America you can buy a military-style semi-automatic rifle off the shelf at your neighborhood Wal-Mart, the same way we pick out a frying pan from Sogo.

Wal-Mart sells socks, soap bars and semi-automatic rifles

America is obsessed with guns. The FBI estimates that there are over 200 million privately-owned firearms in the United States. Including those owned by law enforcement agencies, there is about one gun per person in the country, the highest ratio in the world. America’s love affair with firearms is rooted in its history. Early settlers needed weapons to defend themselves against native Indians. Disputes among neighbors and romantic rivals were often settled by a pistol duel. During the War of Independence from 1775 to 1783, local militias armed themselves to overthrow British rule. The Second Amendment to the Constitution, enshrined in 1791 along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, guarantees the right to bear arms. Today, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is a well-funded organization with 4.3 million members from coast to coast. Like the American Frozen Food Institute that worked vigorously on Capitol Hill to make pizza a vegetable, the NRA is a powerful lobbying group that wields great influence over lawmakers to protect the multi-billion-dollar gun industry.

Guns are part of the national identity

Ironically, the NRA’s biggest enemies are neither gun law advocates nor the so-called liberal media. Their worst nightmare is the occasional depraved heart who storms into schools, shopping malls and government buildings and sprays bullets on the innocent. Names like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and Oak Creek are now synonymous with mass murders and forever etched into the nation’s psyche. Two Fridays ago, 20-year-old Adam Lanza joined the growing list of crazed gunmen and killed 26 teachers and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Lanza was armed with three semi-automatic assault weapons, including two handguns and a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, the type of combat weapons used by Mexican drug cartels and African warlords. Another shotgun was found in Lanza’s car and three more firearms were uncovered in his house. All seven weapons were legally obtained under Connecticut state law by Lanza’s mother, whom he murdered prior to the school shootings.

Recreational guns come at a high price

The Newtown shooting shook America to the core. For those living in the Tristate area, including my brother Dan and his family, the tragedy brought the issue of gun violence much closer to home. Days after the shooting, Dan received an invitation from his daughter’s school principal to attend a town hall meeting to discuss school safety. Later that week, Dan’s eight-year-old daughter Kimmie went through a “lock-down” drill at school. Kimmie and her fellow third-graders learned all the places in the classroom where they could hide: under the desks, inside the cabinet and behind the piano. They also learned how to stay quiet, refrain from crying and keep clear of the classroom door during an “emergency situation.” So while students in Hong Kong go through fire drills and Japanese children learn what to do in an earthquake, kids in America are taught tricks to evade armed gunmen like some bad Halloween movie. It is absurd, but hey, it is America!

Letter from Kimmie's school principal

Gun control, abortion and same-sex marriage are the “Big Three” social debates of our time. Gun law reform is especially controversial because of the economic interests involved and the cultural nerve it touches. Advocates on both sides of the debate cite their own studies and statistics and are backed by their own scholars, celebrities and public interest groups. The for-and-against arguments go something like this. Supporters of tougher gun laws say “enough is enough.” They blame gun violence on easy access to firearms and question the recreational value of semi-automatic weapons like the Bushmaster XM-15. On the other hand, gun-rights advocates say “guns don’t kill, people do.” They use the classic slippery slope argument: what’s next after banning assault weapons? Pistols? Kitchen knives? Sharp pencils? Should China ban knives because some whack job in Henan Province stabbed 23 children at a primary school? But the NRA goes one step further. They believe that more guns is the solution to gun violence. At a press conference last week, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre said defiantly, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” He urged every school in America to hire armed security guards like they do at airports and court houses. The fact that LaPierre's proposal will boost gun sales is, I suppose, just a happy coincidence.

There's blood on LaPierre's hands

While gun law reform is stirring up passion in America, it is something of a no-brainer for the rest of the world. Here in Asia, we watch what happened in Connecticut in horror and listen to the ensuing social debate with disbelief. For most of us who didn’t grow up with firearms in our house, it is self-evident that restricting gun access is a direct, logical and effective way to curb gun violence. Discussing gun control with my colleagues and friends in Hong Kong makes for a deeply disappointing debate, for everyone seems to be on the same page. What confuses us, however, is why a great country like the Unites States – the superpower that put a man on the moon, beat the Soviets in the Cold War and invented the iPhone – can be so backward when it comes to such an obvious issue. We don’t understand how a population of 300 million can let a small minority of trigger-happy fanatics drive the national agenda. And when we hear the NRA’s proposal to fight gun violence by flooding the streets with even more guns, we don’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for these people. One of my readers puts it best: “I don’t understand this country, and I never will.”

It's incomprehensible to us

But gun control is not the only debate coming out of the Newtown massacre. It also thrusts the issue of mental illness to the forefront. The gunman Adam Lanza was reportedly autistic and suffered from a personality disorder. That Lanza somehow fell through the cracks in the healthcare system is forcing the government to re-examine the support it provides the mentally ill. And if healthcare for the body is as scarce as it is – remember the uninsured at the emergency room – then what, if any, is left to treat diseases of the mind? Too often the mentally ill have to choose between institutionalization and fending for themselves. Adam Lanza chose the latter and his illness festered. A broken healthcare system, combined with a brutal school culture that bullies and alienates the misfit, creates a recipe for disaster. None of these factors excuses what Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook Elementary, but it might well have contributed to it.

Lanza, before he fell out of the system

Still another debate coming out of the Newtown shooting is the role of the media. Within hours after the first shot was heard, teams of reporters descended upon the Connecticut town like a plague of locusts. What followed was around-the-clock, wall-to-wall coverage of what happened and what the reporters thought had happened. They interviewed victims’ families who would rather have been left alone. They asked inane questions like “What went through your mind when you heard the gunshots?” and “What would you like to say to the gunman if he were still alive?” The line between journalists and paparazzi blurred. Critics argue that this kind of ambulance-chasing reporting actually encourages gun violence by glorifying the perpetrator’s act and giving a sad nobody his 15 minutes of fame. Perhaps. But journalism is a tricky business: too much reporting is sensationalism, but too little of it becomes neglect. I asked my brother Dan if he was offended by CNN’s non-stop coverage of the Newtown shooting. He said “no.” He felt that public attention needs to be drawn to the incident in order for changes to be made. He didn’t think the country should stop talking about a tragedy just to avoid putting the gunman in the limelight. “Attention is a form of respect,” he said. I tend to agree.

When it comes to reporting, even children are fair game

The debate over mental health and media coverage notwithstanding, the national focus in the aftermath of Newtown should stay on gun law reform. Too many lives have been lost for lawmakers in Washington to continue to kick the can down the road. It's time the country got serious about having a sensible dialogue on sensible gun laws, no matter how ugly the political fight will get. There will never be enough laws on the book to eliminate gun violence, but let’s talk about the loopholes in the background checks at gun shops and other points of sale. Let’s talk about the types of weapons that should be banned altogether. And let’s talk about concealment laws, secondary market sales and mandatory child-safety locks. For every day we wait, 35 more people are murdered with guns. Politicians should for once listen to common sense rather than lobbyists and their skewed statistics and dubious studies. America may be a bizarre country, but there is a difference between bizarre and absurd. 

They deserve better


This article also appears on SCMP.com under Jason Y. Ng's column "As I See It."
As posted on SCMP.com


  1. I just thought that would it be another "good" reason given for couples of not having child at all ? LOL !

    Insane, absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous and what else ? HEARTBREAKING !


    P.S. Wish everyone having a joyous, healthy and blessed year 2013 !

  2. Heart-breaking indeed.

    Thanks, Jean, for the good wishes. Happy new year to you too!


  3. One American friend told me that she really couldn't stand it anymore and she didnt know why people needed a gun when they were not in an army. Those gun-rights advocates only care about their rights but ignore the rights of the innocent. It's really ridiculous as schools are supposed to be a safe place for children. Where's teh human rights of these children? They should be well protected. And I really don't understand why the American need so many guns at home. Be ready to kill? When I stayed in the US, it seemed that it's part of the daily life to hear the news of people being killed with guns. Every day at least a case happened around the town I stayed. And there's a whopping rise in the number of cases in Chicago within a year.And those selfish gun-rights advocates just turn a blind eye to it as if it's not their business. I am just thinking maybe only when the loved ones of these selfish people are killed under gunshots will these people start to realise or reflect on this issue.Or will they be numbed?

    But when it comes to the gun-ban/ gun control, only the good guys will give up their guns and the bad guys will still keep their guns. How can the government make sure all people are gun-free?


  4. It's often very difficult to analyse mass shootings like this because too many issues are involved.
    Is it the deeply rooted gen culture? or the excessive media coverage? Lack of health care for the mentally ill? or the violent Hollywood movies and video games? Or school bullying?
    But most of these killers almost share some traits in common. They are often shy, socially awkward, introverted young men (aged between 19-25) obsessed with violence.
    For me, the US government should at least ban the assault weapons like rifles and machine guns to stop the bad guys from killing a lot of innocent people within a short time.

  5. To Lily, Your last statement is so powerful. The answer is "No"- the government is not able to keep the country gun-free.

    Jason, I am curious to know if you took a gun safety course before? Do you have any experience in firearms training? As for me, I took a pistol training program and will be introducing my friends to pistol and rifle training, even though I do not own guns. Why? Because I wanted to see the other side of the gun issue. Why be a part of the craziness that the media has created? I think people should personally investigate the issue for themselves? I found the training to be very rigorous with safety as being overly emphasized and paramount. I actuall enjoyed my time at the range shooting various guns and learning about them. I even saw young children exhibiting excellent skills in shooting and safety. With that said, there are many examples, especially on Youtube, where children defended themselves against home invaders: 10 year old child-

    15 year old child-

    The above is just a couple examples of children. There are many more of adults protecting themselves.
    With the recent tragedy, is gun ownership and the rights to own them bad? Is it selfish? Not according to statistics. There are "millions" of responsible gun owners but recent events, from Columbine to Sandy Hook, were the result of loner types who were probably bullied, mentally ill and had little to no crimminal record. If statistics showed that America's gun owners were out of control and the cause of the majority of crime, then of course, let's limit guns, or maybe have no guns. However, gun owners causing a majority of the crime is definitely not the case, and with that said, guns is definitely not the issue.
    Some people may feel that the police are enough and should be the only one's to have guns. There is no strong evidence to support that statement? http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
    The above website shows that crime in Michegan is on average 4% lower since passing the "Right to Carry" law.
    Jason, you provided some historical bits about gun ownership in the U.S., yet, mass shootings are more of a recent phenomena in U.S. history.
    Yes, mass shootings are horrible, but let's be clear that gun owners are not selfish to own guns. It's the individual that uses guns, or knives, cars, or whatever, to commit a crime that is selfish.

    1. Blaming individuals is easy, but the fact of the matter and therefore the one thing that the NRA and gun advocates like to skirt around is that guns make it easier for someone to kill. The school attacks in China claimed plenty of victims too, but the math is irrefutable that a person with a knife will do far less damage than a person with a gun. Isn't that why guns are invented in the first place? Human beings being human beings, they will do what's easy for them and that's just fact.

      The fact of the matter is that this issue will not be decided until someone carries an automatic/semi-automatic and cause casualties in the triple/quad digits. You know it's coming; it's a matter of when.

      The NRA bi***es and moans about having more guns and security in school. They should fund the initiative then or better they should volunteer to guard the schools.

      My final point is that this is ultimately not an issue of guns. America is now a country filled with people constantly demanding rights without having any sense of responsibility. The chicken is coming home to roost soon and frankly it's probably about time.

  6. Lily, I agree with you. I think if Wayne LaPierre's own child was shot at Sandy Hook Elementary, he might not have been so defiant. To these gun enthusiasts, gun violence doesn't happen until it happens to THEM. It comes down to people being selfish.


  7. Dear Anonymous,

    It's obvious to ALL of us that assault weapons should be banned outright. You are preaching to the converted. Try making the same argument in the "Red States" and you'll get a very different response. America is a truly strange country.


  8. Dear Anonymous (the second one -- I wish people could leave their names, or at least their initials for identification...),

    Don't get me wrong. I am NOT anti-guns. Shooting is a legitimate sport, as is hunting. I know several competitive shooters and they shoot responsibly and skillfully. Their living rooms are filled with medals and trophies from games and competitions. Those people can, and should, have their guns. Single-shot guns.

    I am talking about assault weapons. Rifle with dozens of rounds of ammo, designed to KILL. What's the recreational value in that? I don't see a hunter hunting deer with a semi-automatic. These WMD - weapons of mass destruction -- have no place in the civilian society.
    They belong to the battlefield, not the shooting range, not the hunting ground, and definitely not our schools.


  9. As a Canadian living so close to the U.S. border, I'm always amused at the blundering US. Americans always claim theirs is the freest country in the world? But free for what? So free that you can get a gun shoved in your back while walking down a street in downtown Seattle on a weekend holiday? I always joke that the US's motto should be - Born at the end of a gunpoint, dies at the end of gunpoint! It's so easy to buy a gun in the US. But how do you know whose a good guy or bad guy? Americans don't need a license or permit to own a gun like they do here in Canada. But people here worriy about guns available on the Black market.


  10. By the time this blog post came out, I was too speechless to write anything, I don't have the words. I really appreciate your attention to things that matter, start a dialogue and so here's my best try to share.

    Our reaction to Newtown was shock, empathy, my first thought is that we as a society, a nation has failed them, those young innocent lives, the dedicated lives of teachers who protect our kids. WE failed, and am still failing, shamefully.

    Since the Newtown shooting, a few more happened that made the news, one in Pennsylvania, 3 people shot, 1 was decorating in a church, and another in Western NY state, a 62 yr shoot several firefighters, 2 died, it was a set up, he was a convicted murderer set free after his 20 yr?jail sentence. 2 yrs ago, his neighbor's daughter helped purchased the assault rifle and guns in her name, but for his use. She's being charged for lying when she made the purchase, up to 10 years jail time. Seems EASY to purchase assault weapons anywhere in the states. Why do we make it so easy for people to obtain lethal assault weapons? We ask this over and over, "Why"... no massive action yet, not sure if we have enough will to curb this.

    The only people who would want to buy an assault rifle is someone with the intent to kill other people, as many as possible in a short time. Mind boggling and absurd not to outlaw this to folks outside of the US as you described. Well, many of us in the US feel this way also, but presently we are subjected to live under the will of the NRA and the politicians who are supported by them. Not so free of a population in this regard, held hostage in a potentially violent gun filled society.

    We then ask GOD, "WHY?" when tragedy hits us.
    It's a couple of weeks after Newtown, I hope our urgency to make changes has not lessened.

    How much does the profitability of the gun industry factor in this "rt to bear arms?"
    Someone should look into the companies who sell guns parts, I'm sure they work overtime to keep up with demand.

    Let's get to the ROOT of this then, face up to it as much as we can.
    Ask ourselves, how to prevent more unpredictable killings by suicidal murderers. More gun control. Or More guns? More guns will help us feel safer?

    More school security? and How to prevent or treat the mentally ill.
    Then there is our culture of violence, we are drawn to it, in movies, TV shows, video games, we pay good money to create it, market it, buy it, so that we are entertained.
    Violent language, and the way we treat each other, one generation passes this onto the next, we don't think much of this, but it really does have a lasting emotional psychological effect. We cheer and are in awe of violence, even though we may be repulsed at the same time.

    The easy thing to do is to point the finger.

    I really think we have to look inside ourselves.

    all I've done is sign my name onto www.demandaplan.org
    Wrote on this blog.
    I try to treat others the way I want to be treated, with respect and kindness.
    It's a start.

    Let's get pass the new years as peacefully as we can.

    -Another Lily

  11. Thanks for your heartfelt comment, Lily. In the two weeks since the Newtown shootings, gun manufacturers have sold more semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines than they did in the past four years. Like you, I am speechless. God bless America.


  12. Jason, your assessment was rife with inaccuracies. Your view of the NRA is extremely biased and is little more than a conspiracy theory. You have opinions but no facts. Your idea of America is unfair. I feel like you have exercised your opinion without recognizing the actual 2nd Amendment. You glaze right past its purpose and I believe your OPINIONS are based on the "here and now" and not the big picture. I really dislike irresponsible "reporting" on these things because you give a very biased and very false impression of America, Americans, and the reasons behind gun ownership in America. Your assessment is also terribly one-sided. How many lives have guns saved? It's unmeasurable and also unreported and somehow dismissed although it is no less real. We have a 237 year history, of which you can count mass shootings, of the Sandy Hook variety, on less then two hands. I understand the call to react, but you cannot simply dismiss the purpose behind the 2nd Amendment. To so many non-Americans, this is a no brainer, but understanding how and why America was founded and what the 2nd Amendment is protecting us from, you cannot simply overlook it because of a demand for action. I agree, there should be action, but this simply solves the means, not the ends and certainly not the motive or desire. I wonder if this crazy person had driven a truck through the walls of the school and killed all those children, would we be having the same conversation? Would we be calling for the same action? This right is uniquely American, but many non-Americans are writing articles and giving their two cents, portraying this as you did, "bizarre." It's not at all bizarre. If you actually read the 2nd Amendment and the reason it exists, it makes complete sense as to why Americans are unwilling to give up their arms. It is not boorish Americans, mindless brutes that enjoy gratuitous gunfire and murder. You're portrayal of the situation in America makes it sound as if it's unsafe to walk the streets, but statistically speaking, you're more likely to be the victim of violent crime in the U.K. than in the U.S. We are not murderous crazies that are unwilling to part with our killing machines, we have a very real reason why we support that right. I beg you to not simply glaze over the 2nd Amendment... Instead, I urge you to read it and understand why it's there. It will make it seem significantly less bizarre. To want to ban guns is reactionary. It's to think and understand things in the here and now, but fails to see the bigger picture. Understanding our history and how we, as designed by our founding fathers, intend to maintain this great American experiment into the distant future is important to understanding why we have guns. Is it perfect? Certainly not. But I have been all over the world, Hong Kong many times (shout out Mong Kok!), and the mindset of government is very different in other parts of the world. Interestingly enough, I see Hong Kong a lot like us... But even with the Basic Law, Hong Kong is ultimately at the mercy of Beijing. America's founders thought of that, they thought ahead. So while the threat isn't present now, it could be. Thus the 2nd Amendment Constitutional Right. Here it is if you, or any of your readers would like to have a better understanding.

    2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
    "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

    Meaning the people will always govern itself, not the government governing the people. This was intended by our founders to protect us against any would be oppressor.

    -Todd Christensen

  13. I don't claim to be an expert on this topic,only looking into gun violence these past weeks. And I'm afraid we'll all forget it in 2 months, like I have in the past.

    The founding fathers in the year 1789, granted the citizenry the rt to bear arms, to form a "well regulated militia", because the US at the time did not have an official professional organized army. Present day, we have an the army, navy, the marines, police force to fight and protect.

    The question remains do we give fairly easy access to firearms to all citizens? aside from hand guns for self protection and hunting guns, for responsible gun owners -
    because guns are the preferred weapons of choice for homicides, do we have restrictions to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, depressed, and angry?

    I might be preaching to the choir here.
    I think you will be bias one way or another when we use an interpretation of the 2nd amendment as an argument for the status quo gun laws, or in support of gun control.

    Interpretations of the Second Amendment:

    "There are three predominant interpretations of the Second Amendment:
    The civilian militia interpretation, which holds that the Second Amendment is no longer valid, having been intended to protect a militia system that is no longer in place.

    The individual rights interpretation, which holds that the individual right to bear arms is a basic right on the same order as the right to free speech.

    The median interpretation, which holds that the Second Amendment does protect an individual right to bear arms but is restricted by the militia language in some way."


    Semi automatic weapons in the hands of anyone who wants them for the purpose of killing innocent people, is entirely a separate issue from bearing arms to form a militia, my opinion.

    adults and kids are being gunned down, and we point to the 2nd amendment. I can understand how this would come across as absurd or bizarre to people outside of the US, and inside of the US as well.

    I did not find statistics on how many lives guns have saved. But we do have statistics on gun violence, lives lost.
    Here is a sample of my bias, but facts I've found:
    2007 31,224 firearms deaths
    2009 66.9% homicides by firearms
    2010 358 deaths involved rifles
    6,009 deaths involved pistols
    2000 52,447 deliberate gun injuries
    23,237 accidental non fatal gun injuries
    Gun Violence in the US

    Link to Notable School Attacks involving guns in US History since 1927.
    I counted 11 shootings where more then 5 persons died. This list does not include work place, theaters, churches, restaurants etc., only schools.
    This list shows 12, 13, 14 yr olds, teens with access to guns, the youngest shooter is a
    6 yr old. Feb 29, 2000 at Buell Elementray, Michigan. Scroll down for list.

    I don't expect changes right away, we are a slow moving government the way our founding fathers designed it. Let's see what the new congress will do. I do hope for continued dialogue we can take part in, to plan ahead for what environment we want our kids to grow up in.

    Thanks for looking up the bit on gun sales.

    Another Lily

  14. Correct me if i m wrong, Jason, i m no politician n no historian; but has any states / countries in the world not having the right to possess arms suffered such grave tragedies so frequently? Even if it is not a total blanket ban, surely more restrictions are reasonable? And once u get into this, grey areas n loopholes open up. I'll email u my full comments soon, the tears have hardly dried up.


  15. Thanks for sharing, Jason.


  16. This is a ridiculously irresponsibly written article. It is rife with inaccuracies. The point behind the 2nd Amendment, a logic you fail to apply in your poorly assessed analysis and subsequent OPINION, is that America, unlike the rest of the world, is not ruled by its government, its government is ruled by the people. When our founders built this radically new concept, they knew that a country that is powerful will at some time in its history become subject to a power-grab. Somebody will want to control it, but the whole purpose is that we control ourselves, there is no absolute power. We were guaranteed the right to bear arms with the singular purpose of defending ourselves against, and toppling, a government that should become interested in taking away the people's right to self-govern. There is no country in history that has not been exploited in such a way. Our founders knew this and ensured our ability to fight back against a would-be oppressor. When you look at a history of 237 years of gun rights and you can count mass-shootings, like Sandy Hook, on less than two hands, well, that's pretty amazing, don't you think? I wouldn't expect a non-American to understand that. But you, sir, have intentionally misled readers. The violence you portray simply doesn't exist. America is largely safe despite the "one gun per person." This article, its inaccuracies, and its author are divorced from reality. If you believe anything in this article, you have been misled.


  17. You, sir, are ridiculous. Your brain is not telling you the truth.No one but an American who wants to own an assault rifle would understand how a whole race of people would prefer to be armed to an obscene degree than protect little children in school.You should be ashamed, not arrogantly defending the 2nd amendment. How embarrassing that you now have to teach your school children how to avoid a hail of bullets rather than restricting gun ownership.


  18. I laugh at you. Ashamed? Not in the least. I have done nothing to nobody. My guns have killed nobody, ever, AND that's true for 99.9999% of Americans. You hear of something on the news and have made up your mind about a whole "race" of people. You should be ashamed for having such little information and judging an entire nation by the act of a person who was clearly not sane. Perhaps your brain is not telling you the truth about that? Here's the funny thing... It is 3 A.M. here in America, and I just walked to the store and bought some food. In the dead of night. I feared nothing. America is safe. Everybody may have guns, but America is safe. Imagine that... I wonder why that is? Are there going to be irresponsible people? Are there going to be people with mental illness? Sure there is, and how does your country handle them? I guess the guns made them do it. What if they drove a truck through the school walls and killed a bunch of kids? Would we be having the same conversation? Hopefully your brain will tell you truth about that.


  19. So why is the US (almost) the only country to have school massacres? On a regular basis? Australian are interested in and hear a great deal about other countries, we know a lot more about you than you probably realise.These atrocities are reported widely and 90% comes from your country's media. And as this country has a fairly low gun death statistic we are amazed to read/see/hear about yours .Also I have travelled widely in the US and have seen the never ending availability of guns etc first hand. Of course we have crime and yes on rare occasions children are involved but we never have to fear sending our children to school.


  20. Susanna, you traveled extensively in the United States, that's what you say, so I'll ask you, how many times were you shot and killed while you were here? There's one gun per American, so as you claim, guns are so horrible, I ask, how many times were you shot? How many times were you robbed at gunpoint? How many times did you witness a gun related crime or gun related violence? I'll just go ahead and answer that for you... It's zero. No times. Why is that? If guns are so bad, and Americans condone gun violence, why didn't you see any while you were here? Why weren't you shot? Why weren't you killed? There have been 5 instances of "mass" shootings, of which four involved schools since 1999. That makes 4 instances in 14 years. So, seems kind of ridiculous when you see that statistic, considering this country has 300 million citizens and there's one gun per citizen. Do you know what that percentage is? My calculator cannot even produce that number. So, if the youth is 28% that means that 84,000,000 children go to school everyday, 240 days a year without incident. That's 4 times more people than are in your whole country. So, you know so much about us, huh? Do you also know that our media are ratings whores? Do you know that they inflate these things because fear equals ratings? That's why we have "gun drills" in schools, not because the threat is statistically realistic. Just look at the numbers. Numbers don't lie. No opinion, like in this article, just the facts.


  21. I am not quite sure how the media can "inflate" 20 children being shot while they at school. Even if it is a tiny percentage of your population is that not too many, or doesn't it matter ?
    "Every year in the US, 17,000 people are killed by guns and another 20,000 by suicide with a firearm. The slaughter of children by gunfire is 25 times the rate of the next 20 largest industrial countries in the world COMBINED. Well over a million men, women, and children have been shot to death since 1968 and even now 80 people are shot to death in the US every day." Quote from Barry Master, Telegraph. Author of The Evil That Men Do.
    Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that you accept those statistics whereas other highly developed, clever (but perhaps smaller) countries, would not.


  22. Susanna, I have lived here my whole life. I have not been shot and I don't know somebody who has been shot. It's not that it doesn't matter, it's that it's statistically insignificant. In your country, how many people are killed by wildlife? Factoring population vs deaths related to wildlife (snake bites, bug bites, shark attacks, bush accidents) it's comparable with the percentage of people that die in the U.S. due to gun violence. Would you like to ban outdoor activities in your country? The killing has got to stop in Australia, or does it just not matter? Do you see how ridiculous that is when you apply statistics to your argument? Of course you aren't going to ban outdoor activities in Australia, that would be absurd, because millions of people enjoy themselves outdoors without incident in your country. What you are proposing is that because of some instances of gun violence, which is statistically negligible, you think the 99.9999% of responsible gun owning Americans should turn in their arms. That's bizarre. Punish the innocent? What sense does that make? That's like saying we're going to solve drunk driving by banning people that don't drink from driving cars. What, exactly, does that solve? You throw out these numbers and act like they're significant but you fail to weigh them against a population of 300 million people. Sure, there are tragedies, but punishing the innocent is just stupid and ineffective. Criminals do not obey laws, that's what makes them criminals.


  23. You are the quintessential Yank behaving exactly as we expect you to, defending your rights,oh, I should add God given rights. That out dated notion that you have a right to bear arms. All those 300 million" innocent" people who bear arms.

    Can you have a look at shark deaths at Australia and see how few there are compared to how many people think there are. And a shark is an animal doing what comes naturally. People can choose whether they swim in the sea. Children I would imagine would chose not to be shot in the head by someone who has access to assault weapons. And yes, when someone is eaten people DO demand that sharks are culled etc I do not think anyone in their right mind thinks that gun deaths are " natural".

    Perhaps you could google " In other countries laws are strict and work" an article on the New York Times website but then again probably the NYT editor is one of those media whores you are talking about. I am pretty sure that it won't be a News Ltd paper!

    America is an amazing country full of untold riches. Its people are wonderful friendly and welcoming to visitors - the countryside is unimaginably beautiful for the most part. It is just a pity is it filled with God and guns.

    Goodnight and goodbye.


  24. Sorry, character limitation, but I want to finish this thought... As far as the media "inflating" the situation, they absolutely do. You claim to know so much about America, which you are likely getting from national news sources and not local news sources. Let me share with you the headlines on the local news, "26 dead in shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary, your children are at risk, tonight on the NBC 10 o'clock news." That's an actual headline. Now, let's asses that "risk." Your children's odds of being shot at school are LESS than the odds of winning $100 million in the national lottery. The odds of your child developing lung cancer in school are 800 times higher. But where are the drills for that? Why are there no air quality drills in schools, since you are 800 times more likely to develop lung cancer than get shot in a school? This is how the media exploits fear. People acknowledge and prepare for a nonexistant threat while ignoring a real one simply because the media has played on American fears. Lung cancer isn't an instantaneous death. People know it exists and because it happens slowly, and is not reported by the media, it's a silent gamble the American public is willing to take. But because a school shooting is so instantaneous, so unimaginable, so horrific, the media plays on that, presents the threat as real, and articles like this appear calling for action. And nonAmericans like you buy into it for the same reasons. Regardless of the reality of it.


  25. Brilliant article, this says it all. As an Australian I find the attitude of the US people to this whole debacle more than bizarre, it is reprehensible. Why does not the whole country rise as one and defeat the NRA if they truly believed in the sanctity of children in schools? America may have been a world leader once buts its reputation is always tarnished by its attitude to and condoning of gun violence.


  26. With all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about. The characterization (or mis-characterization) of the NRA in this article is absurd. True, our system is not perfect, but I challenge you to find a country that is. Believing in the "sanctity of children in schools" and agreeing with gun rights are mutually exclusive, supporting one does not negate support for the other. Non-Americans cannot and will not understand the purpose behind our 2nd Amendment Constitutional right to bear arms. We are a world leader, and will always be a world power because we cannot be toppled by an outside entity. If America were to falter and fail, it will come from within. Our gun ownership ensures and secures that. To say support of gun ownership is condoning gun violence is outrageous but not unexpected from the mindset of a non-American. Why would one automatically result in the other? That makes no sense. I own an entire arsenal and have killed a grand total of... Nobody. Ever. And instances of violence are relatively low. You are far more likely to be the victim of a violent crime in the U.K. than in the U.S., statistically speaking, so why does the U.S. get demonized? Maybe it's articles like this. They are irresponsible and give people outside of America the wrong impression on "why" we own guns and the purpose of gun ownership in America. I'm sorry our reputation has been tarnished, but being the SUPER POWER of all super powers, perhaps it's just bigger news? Ironic, huh?


  27. Also, let me clear something up because I didn't cover it in my rant. Unlike the author of this article, I am subject to a character limit. But you call these guns "assault rifles." That is just one of many inaccuracies in this article. These are semi-automatic weapons, not automatic weapons. Of course, since you cannot own guns in your country, I don't expect you to understand the difference... Semi-automatic means you can fire as many times as you pull the trigger. Automatic means that you pull the trigger once and the gun will continue to fire until it is out of bullets. Semi-automatic guns are NOT assault rifles. Automatic guns ARE assault weapons. While the military does use some semi-automatic weapons, they are merely add-on last resort weapons. The military, even your military, uses automatic weapons. You said "(these are) the type of combat weapons used by Mexican drug cartels and African warlords." You are incorrect. Mexican drug cartels and African warlords use M16's or automatic AR15's not semi-automatics. This may be splitting hairs, but I just want to point out how little you actually know about the subject matter. Every claim you make thereafter should be questioned. And as an American, born and raised, living in America, I am telling you your article is inaccurate. From gun violence not being reported on the news (FALSE!) to people being turned away for medical services (ALSO FALSE! - and it's actually against the law). Terrible article.


  28. As a Canadian living so close to the U.S. border, I'm always amused at the blundering US. Americans always claim theirs is the freest country in the world? But free for what? So free that you can get a gun shoved in your back while walking down a street in downtown Seattle on a weekend holiday? I always joke that the US's motto should be - Born at the end of a gunpoint, dies at the end of gunpoint! It's so easy to buy a gun in the US. But how do you know whose a good guy or bad guy? Americans don't need a license or permit to own a gun like they do here in Canada. But people here worriy about guns available on the Black market.


  29. different interpretations of the 2nd amendmt depending on your bias. I just take Jason's blog as how other people would view the recent events of gun violence in the US and how it is related to the NRA and current gun laws. For reference: Notable mass shootings in the United States

    Mass shootings
    1700s • Boston Massacre
    1800s • Dawson Massacre
    • Mountain Meadow massacre
    • New York City draft riots
    • Haymarket affair
    1900s • Columbine Mine massacre
    • Kansas City massacre
    • Peoples Temple massacre
    • San Ysidro McDonald's massacre
    • GMAC massacre
    • Luby's massacre
    2000s • Indianapolis mass murder
    • Westroads Mall shooting
    • Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church shooting
    • Covina massacre
    • Geneva County massacre
    • Carthage nursing home shooting
    • Binghamton shootings
    • 2009 Pittsburgh police shootings
    • Fort Hood shooting
    • Hartford Distributors shooting
    • 2011 Tucson shooting
    • 2011 Grand Rapids, Michigan mass murder
    • 2011 Seal Beach shooting
    • 2012 Tulsa shooting
    • 2012 Aurora shooting
    • Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting

    School shootings

    1960s • University of Texas massacre
    1970s • Olean High School shooting
    • California State University, Fullerton massacre
    • Cleveland Elementary School shooting
    1980s • 49th Street Elementary School shooting
    • Hubbard Woods School shooting
    • Cleveland School massacre
    1990s • University of Iowa shooting
    • Lindhurst High School shooting
    • Bard College at Simon's Rock shooting
    • East Carter High School shooting
    • Wickliffe Middle School shooting
    • Blackville-Hilda High School shooting
    • Richland High School shooting
    • Frontier Middle School shooting
    • San Diego State University shooting
    • Bethel Regional High School shooting
    • Pearl High School shooting
    • Heath High School shooting
    • Westside Middle School massacre
    • Parker Middle School dance shooting
    • Thurston High School shooting
    • Columbine High School massacre
    • Heritage High School shooting
    2000s • Buell Elementary School shooting
    • Lake Worth Middle School shooting
    • Santana High School shooting
    • Appalachian School of Law shooting
    • John McDonogh High School shooting
    • Case Western Reserve University shooting
    • Rocori High School shooting
    • Red Lake Senior High School massacre
    • Campbell County High School shooting
    • Platte Canyon High School hostage crisis
    • Weston High School shooting
    • Amish school shooting
    • Virginia Tech massacre
    • Delaware State University shooting
    • SuccessTech Academy shooting
    • E.O. Green School shooting
    • Northern Illinois University shooting
    • Central High School shooting
    • University of Central Arkansas shootings
    2010s • University of Alabama in Huntsville shooting
    • Millard South High School shooting
    • 2011 Virginia Tech shooting
    • Chardon High School shooting
    • Oikos University shooting
    • Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting


  30. Whoa, quite a list, yet, it's somewhat slanted in that you've included events during war- death by artillary fire, and bombings. The Fort Hood shooting victims were killed in a military facility receiving treatment. You've furnished this list and mentioned the Second Amendment. What I'm really trying to say is that on your entire list the victims of these mass killings were unarmed.

    Are Oh Why Onomu-haha

  31. I mention the 2nd amdmt in response to the previous entry by Todd, his interpretation is that it gives the people the rt to self govern, and that the author of the blog is bias, doesn't understand the reason it's such a part of US history. whether you're pro guns or pro gun control depends on one's interpretation of the 2nd amdmt. The list of notable shooting US, I found on wiki page for the Luby massacre, a long list to anyone's surprise, more than what we can count on two hands in our 237 yrs of history, again as a reply to the prev post.


  32. To be an American – or to live in America – is to accept a few things that defy common sense. (Really? Come on, we're not all that stupid. Good essay otherwise.)


    1. I guess the Americans are lucky the Convention did not anticipate that carts would evolve into cars : they may have written an amendment for ensure there is no speed limit in the US...
      I agree with Jason that some things in the US defy common sense : some sort of gun control does not mean that guns are banned, not allowing Ferraris to use their full power on the open roads does not mean Ferraris are banned.

      Note that the very low speed limit set on some roads often defy common sense as well.

      To answer to Todd Christensen on 30/12 : it is interesting to build such a long argument but with such a thing like "you're more likely to be the victim of violent crime in the U.K. than in the U.S", it cannot lead to the right conclusion and it was not worth taking the pain writing or reading...

      I found this article : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-25671/Violent-crime-worse-Britain-US.html
      Looks like stolen cars and robberies are counted as violent crimes!

  33. Yes, I understand what you're saying. It's true that our Constitution is at the mercy of best interpretation. I understand Todd's point of view, as well, since people fled government oppression to start new in North America. That same British gov't followed and brought unfair taxes and a kind of police brutality (Boston Massacre). We gained independence from gov't oppression and The Constitution was made, so I understand where Todd is coming from. And yes, the author of blog is biased. Words like "bizarre" already indicates that the article is far from objective. However, that's how he see's it and I enjoy a lively discussion : )

    Are Oh Why Onomu-haha

  34. I think we are often bias one way or another. I get where Todd is coming from also, they needed tobe self armed at that point in the country's history late 1700. also I see how recent shootings will seem bizarre to folks outside of the US, how can a country they have high expectations of let this happen repeatedly, especially if they are writing from a a country that has a ban on guns. In 2013, what are we focusing on, protection from potential oppressive gov or potential gun violence/mass shooting. I tend to lean more for preventive measures, no assault weapons for sale to the masses. I'm also for lively discussion and opinions, doesn't hurt. maybe we need 2 separate amendments.


  35. See the controversy you have stirred up? The American attitude to guns is bizarre.


  36. Putting the right to bear arms before the right to live (in safe communities) is really strange. You're right, the rest of the world does look on and wonders why they let just anyone buy guns. Glad I am not an American to be honest...don't get it at all.

  37. Very well put, Dede. I like your comment.


  38. What you have written about the whole scenario in the States shocked me as much as what has happened with the recent shootings. Doesn’t any rational homo sapien realize that it is unforgiveable that you can just buy an offensive weapon off the shelf in a chain store? I beg your pardon, that is shocking, not bizarre. It just shows how rampant they are that one is getting totally indifferent and unfeeling to them.

    Surely this is not what being a human entails?

    “Like the American Frozen Food Institute…….. multi-billion-dollar gun industry”, do you realize what an ironic and tragic comparison this is? And all for the sake of money, at the cost of so many innocent lives. As for the arms Lanza got from his mother, is it really necessary to have all of those solely for self defence? Why would a lady need all that? Out of interest? Obsession or fear of being killed and to “over-equip” herself? That shows a seriously sick mentality and no doubt it has brainwashed her totally already, partly due to the fact that arms are so rampant in the American society and that everyone has at least one. I wonder how many mental and emotional deaths she has suffered already, and maybe Lanza too.

    As for teaching American kids to evade armed gunmen, can you expect such children to grow up to become normal adults? We are perpetrating this mentality in our next generation. Is it precisely because of these training that cultivate in them what “power” or news these weapons could do and spur them to try it out one day, just to experience it and satisfy their curiosity (which always kills the cat) and to get the attention they want if they cannot get it by being or doing something else? This is a matter of Child Psychology as much as a matter to do with arms control. What do we want our next generation to turn out like? So, video games are no longer to be blamed for these shootings?

    On looking at the letter from Kimmie’s principal, my only question is, “is this how we want them to grow up?” Had these children been given the choice, how many of them would opt for such an upbringing and such a future?

    [To be cont'd]


  39. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. Outrageous, the audacity of the statement. What if the bad guy kills the good guy and snatches his gun so he then has two guns? An eye for an eye is never the solution, certainly not the civilized or rational one. Nor is flooding the streets with more guns to kill the evil gunmen. In the end, everyone dies! On the other hand, do we want our children to grow up fearing every step they take at school when school should be a joyful place for them? Irrespective of the “control” they put up, there’s always loopholes or grey areas that people can circumvent. I would certainly opt for a complete ban. Is there any society in the world which outlaw the possession of firearms suffering from mass shootings and carnage all the time?

    BTW, I love your subtle irony, that “the fact that LaPierre’s proposal will boost gun sales is, I suppose, just a happy coincidence.”

    Everything you wrote about the American system, healthcare, school culture and discrimination in a way, they are all real life MAN MADE tragedies. This makes it all the more intolerable and unforgiveable. The system is killing people like Lanza, and many other innocent lives indirectly. But if you look deeply at him, in the picture you posted, there is something in his eyes, his expression and gesture, those are quite unnatural. Something is telling you that it’s not quite right. For some reason, he reminds me of the Joker in Batman, and maybe he is, in character and mentality, and we are doing nothing to help.

    “The line between journalists and paparazzi blurred, so very true. I tended to agree that the ambulance-chasing blow the whole thing up, and out-of-right-proportion at times. Certainly the country should not stop talking about the tragedy, but it is the way it is being reported and described, and what questions asked, that really matter. As Morgan Freeman said, why can’t we focus on the victims and their families without being intrusive?

    I totally agree with you that there will never be enough laws on the book to eliminate gun violence, there will always be loopholes in even the most well-drafted legislations. I see no reason why there can’t be a total ban on offensive weapons or firearms, most of the civilized countries in the world impose a total ban and I don’t see any firearms-related problem with them, certainly not a higher murder or manslaughter statistics. Called me skeptical, but I think we would sooner see the sun rise from the West than to see politicians listening to common sense and the voices/demands of the general populace rather than lobbyists who backed them up in the first place.


  40. Thank you, Mr. Ng, for posting much-needed observations. Interesting also that you share from experience having lived within many cultures. Your right- and left-brain functions appear, to a non-expert, as balanced.
    I am an extremely unhappy American (I know I'm gonna read about this, starting with, "well, just leave..."), indeed, even embarrassed, seeing how degrading many Americans appear, not the least of whom are our so-called representatives in Congress.

  41. I just read the comments on the page. Why does one need to *defend* the need to protect children from senseless murder? To be free is to be able to walk into a school to discover the joy of learning and worry of little else. To be free is NOT about being able to bring guns to school in case some crazies decide to take a few lives today.


  42. It's easy to judge a culture by your own set of rules. But its far harder to step outside of your own prejudices and see the issue for what it really is.

    Buying a gun at walmart isn't as easy as the media makes it seems. You have to fill out paper work, show id, get your picture taken and included in a database, finger printed, and pass a FBI check. If you are an convict felon, have been arrested for domestic abuse, have reported mental problems, or have a restraining order against you, you can't buy a gun.

    Secondly, we don't have universal health care in the US. But most people who have desk, government, or educated jobs are offered insurance by their employers. Poor people can apply for welfare and receive health insurance from the Government. Most American would prefer that their insurance come from a private company and not be supplied by the government. Americans do not trust their government on healthcare issues as easy as non-Americans trust theirs. Finally, hospitals are not allowed to turn someone down due to lack of insurance. There are several charities that work closely with hospitals to help pay for care for people who can't afford it.

    Thirdly, Lanza did not "fall into the government cracks." He was from a rich family who gave him the best treatments, drugs, or psychologist that money could buy. He was highly intelligent and had a very high grade point average. His mother didn't work and her life revolved around tending to her mentally ill son. She tried her best But it didn't' work. Why? Who knows? Life does not offer easy answers for difficult questions.

    Nearly all Americans want to prevent things like Sandy Hook from happening again. And nearly all Americans think assault weapons should be ban. In fact, Assault weapons have been heavily restricted since 1934 and all States banned them. It's extremely difficult and impossible to obtain an assault weapon legally in the US.

    Americans have a constant dialogue about gun control.To say they do not, as this article implies, is ignorant. Only people who do not know anything about America (outside what their media tells them) who assume the those written in this article as truth.

    This article really puts gun and banning in prospective: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323777204578195470446855466.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

  43. Comments on my article can be grouped into two broad categories: those who agree with it and those who don't.

    The second category focuses on two points. First, the article contains factual inaccuracies about America's healthcare system and the definition of assault rifle. Second, outsiders don't know/understand America and therefore shouldn't pass judgment about its way of life.

    Factual inaccuracies. The healthcare example is meant to be facetious, but it's not without truth. Not every emergency situation is life and death. If you sever the finger and want it reattached, for instance, you better have insurance because it will cost you tens of thousands of dollars. If you don't have the money, you just may have to live with having nine fingers for the rest of your life. There are variations of this example but you get the point. Sure, doctors are required to treat patients, but there are different levels of health care.

    We disagree over the definition of assault rifle. But who cares? A Bushmaster XM-15 rifle is an assault rifle, I'm sorry. I don't want to get technical. I don't need to get technical. Common sense prevails.

    As for the second point, I made it very clear in the first paragraph that America is a bizarre country to outsiders -- so bizarre that it is beyond comprehension, it defies common sense. But that is PRECISELY the point of this article. WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND AMERICA. Every country has their pink elephants roaming around and it often takes an outsider to say something before something is done. And so here I am, screaming: "Open your eyes and see the pink elephants!"

  44. I believe the author of this article has lived and worked in America long enough to know what he is writing about, and he is certainly not one who penned anything down without reasoning everything out first. Everyone have very strong views on it issue, especially that so many lives have been lost, and more shootings have occurred since the time of writing which is disturbing.

    I just hope to see both sides of the arguments presented after everyone has thought everything out carefully, and share their personal experience if they would care to.