eyes on the U.S.

Monsieur Obama, Tears Are Not Enough. A European Plea For U.S. Gun Control

Obama on Friday
Obama on Friday


PARIS - America is crying for its children. The country is in mourning, after the Connecticut elementary school shooting that left 28 dead, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven.

President Barack Obama shed real tears as he was listing the number of recent shootings: “These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children,” said the President on the day of the shooting. “Our hearts are broken today.”

He had used the same words after the Tucson, Arizona shooting that killed eight people and wounded former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011. Until now, Obama has mostly limited himself to comforting the victims. His spokesman Jay Carney said in the aftermath of the shooting that “today is not the day to talk politics.”

The tears are not enough. If America wants to prevent such tragedies from happening again, there needs to be some politics. Now. Obama’s response was insufficient. “We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” he said. The proliferation of firearms in the U.S. wasn’t even mentioned.

During the presidential campaign – after the July 2012 shooting during the screening of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado – both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama avoided the subject of gun control. This is revealing of how the U.S. refuses to admit the link between easy access to firearms and this endless string of massacres.

The correlation is crystal clear. No country will prevent a madman or a monster from killing people. Europe is not immune to this problem, as peaceful Norway found out when extremist Anders Breivik shot and killed 77 people in cold blood in July 2011. Germany suffered a similar tragedy in a school in 2009.

Gun control

However, it must be said that the reason U.S. keeps experiencing such shootings is because of how easy it is to buy guns. The homicide rate is five times higher than in France and U.S. gun-related deaths are 16 times more frequent than in Germany.

It is an inextricable problem. The Second Amendment of the Constitution has given U.S. citizens the explicit right to own and bear arms since 1791. This amendment was meant, originally, to prevent the federal government from disarming the population. This right to bear arms has now become an individual right a country where self-defense was often preferred to calling the police. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that people have a right to have a gun for self-defense. In this context, it’s not likely that the Americans will want to change their Constitution.

It is possible, though, to limit and impede the purchasing process. But for that there needs to be a political will, which is absent. The mighty National Rifle Association – touting the Second Amendment and a kind of pioneer hunting tradition – is against any gun control. Its ever efficient lobbying and powerful financial resources are a deterrent for any politician. Their favorite saying is that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people...” Yes, but unarmed people kill less often, with fewer victims.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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