The firepower of America’s gun advocates

Tennessee moves to permit gun-toting in parks after Kansas becomes fifth state to allow carrying gun without license.

Correction, 13/04/2015: An earlier version of this blog’s summary said “Tennessee permits gun-toting in all public parks”. This was incorrect and has been changed to: “Tennesse moves to permit gun-toting in parks”. The bill has not yet been passed. 

“You know this is two countries.” That aside from an elderly Southern gentleman as he walked past our live broadcast post outside the huge convention hall in Tennessee’s capital, Nashville.

We were there to cover the annual convention of the National Rifle Association, where 70,000 people gathered to inspect the latest in firearms and inhale another satisfying dose of anti-Obama speechifying.

Every episode of mass carnage by a crazed gunman in America elicits the same chorus of outrage and demands to make access to a weapon harder.

But cross into the vast heartland between the two coasts and, as you could hear this weekend, the NRA’s faithful say the government must not be allowed to disarm the law-biding.

For every complaint that the NRA is one of the richest and most influential political pressure groups in the US, the organisation points to people like former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the country’s mega-billionaires.

He has committed $80mn to supporting local groups fighting a pro-gun tide buoyed by Republican control of most state legislatures and both the US Senate and Lower house.

While a few dozen small-bore gun restrictions in the past few years have been passed, they are outnumbered by dozens more that makes obtaining and carrying a firearm easier.

Kansas, for example, just became the fifth state where anyone without a criminal record may carry a gun out in the open, no license or training required.

Since the murder of 20 schoolchildren and five adults in Connecticut in 2012, firearms manufacturers have had to fight attempts to hold them legally liable, so far without success.

But they have chosen to seek more welcome surroundings.

Beretta, the Italian company which supplies the US military with its standard sidearm, recently decided to expand its manufacturing operation.

But instead of building at their US base in Maryland, where new gun restrictions have been enacted, its new plant site will be in Tennessee.

It is a state that once boasted Al Gore as a native son – the man who got more votes for president than George W Bush in 2000 but fell just short of the needed electoral votes.

If he had only won his own state, Gore would have moved into the White House.

But as Bill Clinton’s Vice President, Gore was damaged in the eyes of Tennessee voters by his support for a ban on assault rifles, which Congress has since refused to renew.

Gore now lives in California, where Hollywood exalts fake gunplay and sales of firearms have soared.

Meanwhile back in his home state, the legislature has just approved unrestricted gun-toting in all the public parks.

Source : Al Jazeera


More from Features
Most Read