High School Shooting: Anti-gun lobby lead protests

Firearms
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The Independent Online
WHEN THE shock turns to anger in the wake of Tuesday's classroom massacre in Littleton, Colorado, one group can expect to feel the brunt of it. That is the National Rifle Association, which next week holds its annual convention in, of all places, Denver, just miles from the scene of the Columbine High tragedy.

Already yesterday, leaders of the anti-gun lobby were on the offensive, begging Americans to see in Littleton the lesson they believe should have been learned long ago: that radical action must be taken now to tackle the country's gun culture. Guns must be locked away, to keep them out of the hands of children and criminals and gun manufacturers must be forced to make guns safer with new technologies.

The NRA, headed by blunt-spoken actor, Charlton Heston, may still not be cowed, however. Determined to defend what it considers to be the right of all citizens to own guns, as expressed in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, the NRA's response after the earlier school shootings was clear: guns don't kill people, people kill people. Or as Mr Heston put it: "This is a child issue, not a gun issue".

The arguments were distilled in an incident in February caught on live TV - a confrontation on the steps of the Arkansas legislature between a mother of a child who died at Jonesboro school and NRA supporters. Told that she was attacking gun owners' rights, she replied in tears: "This is not about the Second Amendment, it's about parents burying their children". Lawmakers in Arkansas recently passed a law to allow the state to prosecute children who kill as adults. An accompanying bill to force gun owners to keep their weapons under lock and key in their homes, and, hopefully, out of reach of children, was defeated, in part because of NRA lobbying. Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Congresswoman whose husband was killed in the Long Island rail road massacre in 1993, telephoned President Clinton late on Tuesday. After Jonesboro, Ms McCarthy introduced the Children's Gun Violence Prevention Act, which would aim to prosecute those who supply weapons to minors. It never made it to a vote last year.

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