Gun control is a much debated issue in the United States. It is a question that outgoing US President Barack Obama has had to face many times. In 2013, after the Sandy Hook elementary shootings, he signed 23 executive actions, including a ban on assault weapons, reduced ammunition, and stricter penalties for trafficking.
Earlier in 2016, he signed another one calling for more background checks, and has also written an editorial in the New York Times where he said in support of his actions, "Guns are our shared responsibility." However, recently, Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged the Obama administration's failure to enact stricter gun control law adding, “We’re probably not going to get much more done in the next nine months.”
On the other hand, the conservative National Rifle Association (NRA), which has backed Donald Trump in the upcoming US presidential elections (although the backing has come with some dissent from a few members who question Trump's support of a ban on assault weapons), has always kept a vociferous opposition to any gun control legislation and often succeeded. They have often held gun rallies in places where mass shootings have taken place, as pointed out by Michael Moore in his 2002 documentary Bowling For Columbine.
In line with this, the NRA has put out a series of videos that show prominent supporters take on a series of opponents from prominent liberals to Hollywood activists. In one, titled Moms Like Me, talk radio host Dana Loesch says, "I'm a mom. And just like millions of other women, that's why I own guns....If a mom puts a gun to the face of a home invading thug and makes him run for his life, the story gets buried but if she is unarmed and murdered, the cameras will be at the scene before the police."
In another ad country musician Charlie Daniels addresses the "ayatollahs of Iran and every terrorist you enable" and ends ominously, "You have never met America and you ought to pray that you never do". According to him, the real America is with the swamp folk in Cajun country who "can wrestle a full-grown gator out of the water". The ads end with the slogan, "I am the National Rifle Association of America. And I am freedom's safest place."
Analysing the second video, an article in the Washington Post concludes, "Those gator-wrestlers with calloused hands sound tough, but Iran's spin-doctors don't need more reasons to stoke the flames against the Great Satan."
In another video provocatively titled BREAKING: The NRA Just Sent Obama A BRUTAL Warning That He Will Never Forget, Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President and CEO, offers facts, figures and statistics backing his claims, set to suspense-filled music that wouldn't be out of place in a John Carpenter movie.
LaPierre has simple advice for the President of the USA. "He can take every felon with a gun, every drug dealer with the gun and criminal gang-banger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for for five years or more" instead of "finding a crime that fits his agenda and blaming the NRA."
An episode of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, played in the wake of the Planned Parenting and Benghazi hearings in Congress, discusses the "politicisation" of the gun issue and what that entails. Maher says, to applause from the crowd, "The liberals aren't getting to the route of the problem – the second amendment."
In the videos below, two comedians take polarising views on the debate.
In the first clip, American comedian Bill Burr says, "I want to get a gun. Never had that feeling until I moved to Los Angeles. The city is overpopulated. Technically doesn't have a water supply. The dollar is crashing. Shit keeps you up at night. What do I do when the zombies come?"
After being convinced to buy a shotgun by the shop-owner because "it has a good spread", he adds, "It's funny though when you talk about getting a gun, people are either for it or completely against it. Or they start throwing out those stats, 'You increase your chances of getting shot by 80 per cent, the second you get a gun in the house.' Really? You get a pool in your backyard, you immediately increase your chances of drowning in your backyard. I don't buy into any of that shit."
The second video features Australian comedian Jim Jefferies who begins, "I believe in your rights as Americans to have guns. I am not trying to stop you from having guns. I don't like guns. In Australia, we had guns right up till 1996. In 1996, Australia had the biggest massacre on Earth, still hasn't been beaten. So they banned the guns."
"In the 10 years before Port Arthur there were 10 massacres. Since the ban in 1996, there hasn't been a single one. I understand that America and Australia are two vastly different cultures with vastly different people. In Australia we had the biggest massacre on Earth and the government went, 'That's it, no more guns.' And we all went, 'Yeah, all right then, that seems fair enough.'"
"In America where you had the Sandy Hook massacre and your government went, 'Maybe, we'll get rid of the big guns? and 50 per cent of you went, 'Fuck you! Don't take my guns!' There's only one argument and one argument alone to have guns. 'Fuck off! I like guns'. It's not the best argument but it's the only one you got."