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Christopher Bucktin: Attitudes towards guns have got to change

The most powerful house of representatives in the world have achieved nothing to honour the memories of the countless innocent lives lost at the barrel of guns

Grieving relatives comfort each other outside the Washington Navy Yard

Stood at the gates of Washington's Navy Yard this week, the sense of grief among staff who had just hours before witnessed a dozen of their colleagues shot dead was palpable.

The senseless violence that left 12 families mourning their loved ones placed the spotlight yet again on the whole debate over gun control.

And as I strolled past Capitol Hill moments before the tragic day came to a close, I couldn't help think that within hours Congress would arrive for work once again in the shadow of a half mast flag.

These men and women, the most powerful house of representatives in the world, who have seen the Sandy Hook and Aurora shootings, have achieved nothing to honour the memories of the countless innocent lives lost at the barrel of guns.

But then I was left asking myself if the Navy Yard massacre would have any effect at all. The answer was a resounding “No”.

The latest killings will bring renewed pressure to what is now an increasingly old debate but the reality is nothing will change. Americans simply don't want to.

Looking in from afar, I think the British carry an assumption that each time there is another brutal killing spree it will be the tipping point for when the US will finally act. But we couldn't be more wrong. For those who want tighter gun laws and those that don't just sit on opposite sides of the fence, they look upon each other from Mars and Jupiter.

Gun lobbyists will argue tighter restrictions would not have stopped Aaron Alexis this week, he would have merely broken more laws than he already had.

Of course there are those on the extreme right who think the answer is to have more guns on the streets.

The sad part is though, America has been here before and it will be here time and time again.

Recently I spoke to Dr Clarence Jones, he was the man who helped draft Martin Luther King's I Have Dream speech in 1963. I asked if Dr King were here today what would he think of the world we live in. His reply was emphatic.

“The one thing, the one thing Martin would have said was ‘Put down the guns. PUT DOWN THE GUNS’,” he said.

Dr Jones argued  it was America's biggest problem to date, responsible not only for soaring crime but for the break up of family life too. He pointed to the sickening events just before Christmas at Sandy Hook School which saw 27 people, mainly children, shot and killed and how quickly the promises that were made by politicians to bring change were broken. President Obama vowed to ensure tighter laws – a ban on military-style assault rifles and a background check for all gun buyers.

But today his proposals have little, if any, life left in them.

It was always going to be an uphill battle and his bill was doomed for a number of reasons.

The Senate is extraordinarily undemocratic.

In rural states such as Wyoming and North Dakota, where support among its 1.3 million voters is strong for unlimited gun rights, they are bestowed four votes between them in the House on any change in law.

Compare that to the 58 million Americans who live in New York and California in favour of background checks, it seems a travesty they too have the same voting power. But the problem in the States is not a legal one – too many guns exist to see that change.

What’s needed is a cultural change and that is at the heart of America's biggest problem.

For with the greatest will in the world all laws can be changed but it is the people who are supposed to abide by them whose attitudes will not.

Nina Davuluri is the first Indian-American to be crowned Miss America
Nina Davuluri is the first Indian-American to be crowned Miss America
 

No beauty in racism row

Down the years beauty queens have never really been known for their intelligence, possibly none more so in the States than elsewhere.

But if they were to be handed masters degrees, newly-crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri, would now be a doctor in irony.

For, when making her bid for glory the 24-year-old chose to build her campaign around “celebrating diversity through cultural competency”.

But after being named the country's most beautiful it seems her manifesto could benefit many, since clearly some Americans skipped school the day when cultural awareness was being taught.

Unabashed racism clouded Sunday’s competition when Nina became the first Indian-American to take the coveted title.

During the competition she performed a Bollywood dance saying she felt proud for herself, her family and the Indian community.

However, no sooner had her tears of joys dried then her eyes welled up again, only this time over the race storm that followed – largely played out on Twitter.

Meredith Talley wrote: “This is Miss America... not Miss Foreign Country” before taking down her page after a stream of abuse.

Matt Haney added: “How can you be Miss AMERICA and look like you should be a gas station clerk or motel owner?”. Another, using the name @KathrynRyan50, tweeted: “Shes (sic) like not even american and she won miss america.”

Fuelled by the 12th anniversary of 9/11 the most persistent attack however was how a Muslim had managed to win the title.

 Sadly for the uneducated followers of Miss America though Nina is not Muslim, but it got me thinking . . . imagine if she was.

 I shudder to think.

Zac Effron is the latest former child star to reveal that he has been in rehab
Zac Effron is the latest former child star to reveal that he has been in rehab
 

Zac joins  child star casualty list

I'm not sure what Mickey Mouse is putting in the water but yet another child star was this week found to be having troubles.

First there was Britney Spears, followed by Lindsay Lohan, then Shia LaBeouf, and now  Zac Efron is revealed as the latest former Disney darling to “reach out” for help.

It has emerged the High School Musical star completed a stint in rehab five months ago but what for is not known.

Too much too young some may argue, I say exploited by adults from an early age. Poor Walt would turn in his grave if he knew.

 

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