RT: A TV crew was shot dead in Virginia in the US during a live interview. It is another tragic shooting which has reignited the debate over gun control in the US. But in the past the pro-gun lobby always seemed to win through - will this be any different?
Caleb Maupin: US media often portrays kind of a false image of US society, and a lot of people around the world are led to believe that the US is some kind of paradise in which the streets are paved with iPads and everyone lives in prosperity. But for a few moments on live television people [on Wednesday] saw what the US is really like. This is a society dripping with fear, with violence and people walk around really upset and afraid of each other and there is a lot of insecurity.
Of course there is going to be a debate about gun control following this, but the issue is obviously something deeper than that, because there are many countries around the world where people are heavily armed, but they don’t feel a need to kill each other and there are not these kinds of mass shootings we see routinely happening here in the US. The problem is much deeper than simply access to weapons.
RT: Do you think the graphic nature of this killing will alter the debate?
CM: Absolutely. There have been many cases of unemployed people, people who have recently lost their jobs returning to the place they previously worked and killing people, and from I what understand the shooter in this instance was a former employee. This really strikes at the heart of something which is for millions of people in the US, for the overwhelming majority, their very existence is precarious. They can only survive as long as they are working and they can only work so long is someone hires them and makes the profit from their labor. When you don’t have a job it’s very difficult to survive. People live in fear of becoming unemployed, having to rely on food stamps if they can get it. This is a reality.
Back in the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt - when there was a crisis of unemployment - the response of the government was to hire the unemployed into the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and put them to work doing useful work. But in the current time we don’t see that. There is a crisis of unemployment even though the media talks about a so-called recovery there are millions of people who have been cast out as useless and live in fear and we see repeated instances.
Here in Manhattan there was someone who went into the Home Depot after they lost their job and shot someone. There was another instance where someone who worked in an office near the Empire State Building, walked in and shot someone. Here in New York City we have the toughest gun laws of any part of the country. You can’t even have a hunting rifle here without a permit and that permit is almost impossible to get.
So the issue is far deeper. The issue is the alienation and the insanity of US society - a society where millions of people sleep on the street every night - ever though we are supposedly the richest country in the world - and most of those people are veterans, people who fought in the military and now when they returned they can’t even get a place to sleep. US society is extremely unhealthy and it’s not something that people around the world should be aspiring to. People in the world shouldn’t be aspiring to recreate the US in their country by any means.
RT: Would tighter gun controls prevent further killings like this?
CM: As long as we have a society where people’s only value is how much they are worth financially, where human beings are reduced to a financial calculation - as long as we have we are going to be riddled with violence whether or not people have access to weapons. A lot of the people doing the mass shootings and killing people are police officers who are not going to be disarmed no matter what the gun control laws are. I don’t think the proper response to this is the need for gun control, that’s really not addressing the underlying issue which is that human life doesn’t seem to matter in the United States of America in 2015.