'Gun culture' again target of criticism after killings


'Gun culture' again target of criticism after killings


UPDATED: 11:01, April 18, 2007

Foreign politicians and media once again attacked America's "gun culture" yesterday.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said tough legislation introduced after a mass shooting in Tasmania in 1996 had prevented the US gun culture emerging in his country.

After the shooting Australia imposed laws banning almost all types of semi-automatic weapons.

"We showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country," said Howard, extending sympathies to the families of the victims at Virginia Tech University.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed their sympathies.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was "shocked" and "saddened," a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said.

Along with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, the queen is set to pay a two-day visit to Virginia early next month to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement, her first visit to the United States in 16 years.

Iran, at loggerheads with the United States over its nuclear program, spoke out against the killings.

"Iran condemns the killing of Virginia university students and expresses its condolences to the families of victims and the American nation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in a statement.

European newspapers saw a grim inevitability about the shootings, given the right to bear arms which is enshrined in US constitution. In Italy, the Leftist Il Manifesto newspaper said the shooting was "as American as apple pie".

More than 30,000 people die from gunshot wounds in the United States annually and there are more guns in private hands than in any other country. But a powerful gun lobby and support for gun ownership have thwarted attempts to tighten controls.

"It would be vain to hope that even so destructive a crime as this will cool the American ardour for guns," the Independent newspaper said in a commentary.

Gerard Baker, a columnist for The Times newspaper, feared worse was yet to come: "The truth is that only an optimist would imagine Virginia Tech will hold the new record for very long."

France's Le Monde newspaper said such episodes frequently disfigure the "American dream".

"The... slaughter forces American society to once again examine itself, its violence, the obsession with guns of part of its population, the troubles of its youth, subjected to the double tyranny of abundance and competition," it wrote.

Campaigners in other countries where gun ownership is common expressed fears of a similar massacre.


Original Source:: China Daily/agencies

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China Daily/agencies, “&#39;Gun culture&#39; again target of criticism after killings,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 19, 2024, https://www.april16archive.org/items/show/776.