Mon, Apr 23, 2007 - Page 9 News List

Made in the US: The pride that keeps gun law in place

The trouble is, despite everything that happened last Monday, nobody with the power to do anything substantial on gun control is interested in having a substantive debate about it

By Gary Younge  /  THE GUARDIAN , RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

With little help from politicians or the press, people struggled to make sense of it. In the Richmond Times Dispatch one writer quoted Hamlet, Cicero, Henry Newbolt and John Donne in a 700-word column.

A hundred people showed up for a memorial service at the Episcopal church in Richmond and when the bells finished tolling 33 for the victims many were sobbing. Heading up to the service in the lift I nodded at a man called Ron who told me he was feeling fine. As the lift opened he corrected himself: "Actually I'm not feeling fine. This whole thing is sitting really heavy on me."

Heavy, like a Glock.

Back at Moates' store a draw for a silver Para-Ordinance Model 1911 .45 automatic was due to take place last Thursday. The 1911 is part of the company's new line of "gun rights" pistols, which carry the guarantee that the company will donate US$25 to the NRA for every one sold. Anyone who spent more than US$100 in the store could enter the draw.

The "Bloomberg Gungiveaway" was intended to cock a snook at the New York mayor, who had issued a lawsuit against several gun stores, including Moates', for selling firearms that end up being used by criminals in New York.

Moates is no stranger to lost causes. In the parking lot, two cars bore Confederate registration plates. One said "Secede," the other "Lee.CSA," honoring Robert E. Lee, the general who led the south to defeat in the civil war.

Inside, on the book rack is a work entitled The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda and an Unnecessary War. Amid the hunting gear, rifles, ammunition and handguns, are civil war relics, southern memorabilia and Confederate bumper stickers.

But when Moates refused to postpone the raffle in respect for the victims in Blacksburg it looked as if his "pride" and "attitude" would result in him shooting himself in the foot.

"The draw is April 19," he told the New York Daily News last Monday.

On Tuesday a clerk said nothing had changed.

Suddenly, on Wednesday afternoon, Moates had a change of heart.

"We didn't want to be insensitive to the people in Blacksburg. But we also didn't want the draw to take place quietly," Hancock said. "So we put it off until May."

Within two weeks everything will be back to normal. The draw will take place with much fanfare.

And the US will prepare its next surprise.

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