It [the US] is the only country in the world where you have these kinds of repeated massacres where one individual goes out and whacks a number of other people, sometimes he knows him sometimes he does not, but it is repeated over and over again in this country and the justification is the use of the second amendment...”An analyst says that America’s hawkish foreign policy has contributed to the current rampant gun culture in the country. The comments come as a school bus driver was fatally shot in the US state of Alabama as a man climbed onto the bus with children on board, abducted a 6-year-old student passenger and fled the scene. In yet another case of rampant gun violence in the country, one person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting at a business complex in the US state of Arizona. The shootings are another episode of the persisting gun violence across the United States. An elementary school shooting where 20 children and six school staff were killed in the state of Connecticut has yet to produce any meaningful federal measures in terms of gun controls. Press TV has conducted an interview with Saul Landau, the vice-chairman of the Institute for Policy Studies, from Berkley to shed more light on the topic of the US gun culture. He is joined by two additional guests on Press TV’s The Debate program: Caleb Maupin, with the International Action Center, from New York City, and Mark Mason, a political commentator from San Francisco. What follows is a rough transcription of the interview. Press TV: We have 1400 Americans that have been killed since December 14th massacre at the Newtown elementary school, now 1401 and counting. The issue of this bus driver who has been killed and now as we speak, this news has come out that there have been four people that have been shot by gunmen in Phoenix, Arizona. This is just coming as we are talking, obviously something needs to be done. Your reaction? Landau: Well. This is a very frightened population, otherwise people would not have guns. I mean the legitimating reason that people give is that we need guns to protect our family and yet many of the people who are killed by guns are members of the family; a wife shoots a husband or a husband shoots a wife. These are often the victims of guns. Guns do not really protect anybody, guns are a fetish, guns are something that scared people have seem to have fallen in love with. They like to polish them and display them and walk around with them if they can and it is just ridiculous and it is the only country in the world where you have these kinds of repeated massacres where one individual goes out and whacks a number of other people, sometimes he knows him sometimes he does not, but it is repeated over and over again in this country and the justification is the use of the second amendment... Press TV: Let me ask you why is it that people, if you like, polishing guns and making them attractive? How does that figure into them liking guns? I do not..., I mean if I am questioning that, perhaps you can elaborate more on that. How has that become part of what we have as a US gun culture as our background says here? Is it because of the movies? I mean maybe you can expand that more. Landau:Well, I mean if you look at the movies, our television violence’s the solution; usually the gun violence to almost every issue. There is new movie out now called “The Gangster Squad,” in which the chief of police gets a bunch of policemen to leave their badges at home to go out and kill the gangsters and destroy the property of the gangsters. This is seen as the solution to all problems, violence and usually gun violence. So it is part of the American culture and, you know, when people polish their guns it is like polishing their own masculinity. I do not know what else..., it is a fetish. I mean why do you need a semi-automatic or an automatic weapon for? So that the Bambi does not have a chance when you go for their hunting? ... Press TV: Ok, let us look at this in a different aspect. Interesting, basic Internet search that was done on what occurred, the type of the assault rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook, this was a bushmaster owned by the same name, listed in the family of gun manufacturers which includes 15 different models; one of the most popular ones, the ‘Remington’. It is under Freedom Group, if you look it up in the Internet. I do not know what you think of the name by the way, which has all these different guns under it. One of the world’s leading private investment firms, if you can believe it or not by the name of Cerberus Capital Management. They are the ones that own this and guess who is the chairman of the company’s global investments division? Dan Quayle, former vice-president of the US. Not to add a tie all this in together, but I am sure you can do a better job than I can. Landau: Well, until recently the University of California had enormous amount of stock in this and they have now divested.
I think when you link up gun policy in this country, you have to look at the gun manufacturers and at the people who own major stocks in these companies. They do not want any gun-control; all they want is gun sales and ironically when you have massacres like the one that occurred in the Sandy Hook school in Connecticut, this increases gun sales rather than decreases them and I agree that it is not a law, a law is not going to work, that is going to control the violence.People have to work on the culture in this country and to stop thinking that violence is the only way to solve any issue or to resolve any issue and that includes the president of the president of the United States, as was mentioned before. This country has gone to war over and over again and it promotes war as part of its policy. It is the only country that continually invades other countries in the name of some ideal or another: Korea, Vietnam, we had Granada, Panama, then into the Middle East, into Iraq and Afghanistan and participating in the war to oust Gaddafi in Libya and so on.
The United States has its troops always ready to go somewhere and shoot other people. This is part of its foreign policy culture and I think that at some point Congress has to stop debating what size of magazine it is going to control or what kind of automatic weapons it is going to control and deal with the very culture of violence, which is certainly promoted by TV and Hollywood.It is the only culture that kids receive. Kids on the block, grow up playing with guns, toy guns, and then when they get bigger they want real guns and it gives them a sense of masculinity. There must be other ways to get that sense of masculinity other than to possess the firearms and I think that this is something that American educators have to begin to discuss in a very deep way. We have got to solve this problem or we are going to..., you know, the country is becoming a shooting gallery. Press TV: This was interesting, I was reading about and I want to ask you this, ‘Want an abortion in Missouri?’ this is an article that came out. It is, Want an abortion in Missouri? It will be tougher than buying a gun. What about selling lemonade in Iowa? This was cited in the article also, about the title being 11 things to get harder than guns: Abortion, Drugs and more. In which in Arkansas, it takes less time to buy a gun than to qualify for food stamps. Just putting things into perspective, there is something wrong, when it is that easy or easier to buy guns than some of the things that were mentioned in this article. Landau: Well, I think that you have hit on one of the leading contradictions in this whole pro-life debate. You know, most of these pro-lifers are willing to kill abortionists, that is that they are quite willing to kill other people. They just do not want fetuses to be killed. You know, everybody adores life until it is born; once they are born they get what is coming to them. I mean that is essentially the culture of the country or parts of it and this whole gun culture, I think, as the other commentators [Caleb Maupin and Mark Mason] have also stated, this is an old gun culture in this country and it represents the lack of security, lack of personal confidence. In other words, if you are going into your house and you are scared that somebody is going to come into your house or how are you going to protect yourself then you might be motivated to get a gun but most people should not be scared. They do not trust the police, I mean, I think that that is true and there is no good reason to trust the police... MY/HJL