Global sympathy for Newtown, antipathy for US gun laws (+video)
Even as observers around the world mourned the teachers and children killed in Newtown, many expressed frustration with a US political system that has left guns so easily accessible.
There has been no shortage of sympathy from across the globe for the victims of the shooting rampage at an elementary school in the New England town of Newtown, Conn. But there has been another global response as well: confusion and frustration that the US seems unable, or unwilling, to tighten gun laws.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures American Gun Culture
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In Moscow, dozens of Russians spontaneously placed flowers at the US Embassy over the weekend in memory of the 26 victims who were killed on Friday, 20 of them 6- and 7-year-olds. News of the tragedy was shared across the Internet in China, which witnessed its own school attack Friday. From Germany to Britain to France, heads of state expressed their grief, shock, and horror.
With their empathy, however, came an apparent mounting frustration with a US political system that has left weapons like the Bushmaster AR-15 – the civilian model of the M-16 that law-enforcement officials have said shooter Adam Lanza used on his victims Friday – legal and accessible to the public.
Some nations, like Mexico, are directly affected by US gun laws. Other nations have themselves been the site of mass homicides by a lone shooter, but, in the wake of tragedy, have reformed legislation. They question why the US can’t do the same. For many residents of the world, the US continues to beckon with freedom of press, religion, and economic opportunity. But a perceived increase in gun violence has caused at least some to reconsider whether the US is the “land of opportunity” anymore if it can’t protect even its youngest citizens from senseless violence.
American academic Todd Landman, who grew up and studied in Pennsylvania but has lived in the UK since 1993, said he would think twice about moving his three children to live in the US.
“You will always get people who are violent against others – that is a constant – but it’s the availability issue in the US and cultural narrative of guns which is the issue,” says Mr. Landman, a professor at the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex. “I’m a proud American ... I thought about going back and raising my kids there – there’s opportunity, lower tax rates, great lifestyle, beautiful country. But I don’t want my kids to grow up in that gun culture.”