who was convicted along with Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma bombing of 1995. ‘I was in the bedroom with Nichols and I can see the bullet in the chamber and he cocks the gun and puts it to his head. And he‘s crazy. you know. He‘s whipping this gun around and I‘m thinking “What am I doing in here?“ If you see the film. look at me — I‘ in frozen.‘
By way of some explanation as to why Moore risks becoming one of the statistics he so often quotes to back up his arguments. the plain speaking polemicist talks briefly about his childhood: ‘I remember sitting on the living room floor on Sunday. November 24th. 1963 — you see. every American has the fond memory of the first murder they witnessed — and my mother is vacuuming the carpet and I’m sitting up close to the TV when they bring out Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby steps forward. puts the gun in his ribs and shoots him. That’s the first one I witnessed. But there have been so many examples. I remember walking out of mass on Thursday. April 4th. 1968 and one of the dads had gone to the car and he's got the radio on. So he shouts out of the car: “They‘ve just shot Martin Luther King!" and a cheer goes up among the people coming out of church. And we’re coming out of mass and you‘re just 13 years old. you know. and this stuff just burns in your head — at least in my head.‘
What saves Moore from what he himself describes as the ‘utter despair‘ he often feels at the state of his nation is his sense of making a difference and his sense of humour. No matter how terrifying the truths he reveals may be — and believe me, the facts in Stupid White Men and Bmvling for Columbine are very hard to swallow — Moore relies on the power of vicious but often hilarious satire to get the message across. ‘Humour is an incredible force that‘s rarely used. especially by the left anymore, as a means to achieve things that we’d like to see happen.‘ he says. adding one of his favourite quotes. from Mark Twain, ‘that against an assault of laughter. nothing can stand’.
His ability to laugh in the face of idiocy and injustice gives him hope but more importantly. Michael Moore feels a little less lost and a little less out of place when he sees his actions having an impact on America and the rest of the world. ‘I don’t know how well this is reported in the media over here.’ he says, ‘but there are millions and millions of people that will say the same things I‘ll say here. I’m not alone in this. I don’t know how else to express it other than you can see from how well the book is doing in the United States. It’s an indication that there is something going on out there.’
I hope that by the next time. the third time. I meet Michael Moore he‘s been able to right some more wrongs and reach some more people through the power of his prose and his camera. Michael Moore for president. anyone?
Stupid White Men (and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation) is available now through Penguin, priced £7.99; Bowling for Columbine is on selected release from 15 Nov (see Film section for review); Michael Moore live at the Roundhouse, London, until 8 Dec (Box Ofﬁce: 0870 890 0512).
14 THE LIST 14—28 NOV 2002
How the right to bear arms has gone horribly wrong: the chilling
statistics of America’s gun culture . . . Words: Maureen Ellis
ii: In the last ten years. more than 300,000 Americans have been killed by firearm violence.
There are appr0ximately 250 million privately owned firearms in America.
iii The population of America is 280 million.
31:92 In 1998. 47% of the male population of America owned a gun. Every day in America. at least eight children (aged under 19) are killed by gun violence. Between 1998 and 1999, 3,523 students were expelled for bringing a firearm to school.
The National School Boards Association estimates that more than 135,000 guns are brought intO US
schools every day.
Every day in America. 80 lives in total are lost through gun violence. That‘s over 29,000 firearm deaths
[~12 The risk of suicide is 5 times more likely in households with guns.
if? Suicide is the leading cause of firearm death in the US. representing 57% of total gun deaths
2-; In 2000. approximately 75,685 people were treated in hospitals for non-fatal gunshot wounds. 1" There are 104,000 licensed firearms dealers in the States.
There is no limit to the number of guns a person can buy at any time and the vendor must only report ‘multiple sales' to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
21;:- The gun used in the Washington sniper shootings has been traced back to a shop which has no records of its sale. even though stolen or missing guns must be reported within 48 hours and records kept
for 30 years.
The pro-firearm National Rifle Association is a strong voice heard all too often in the Bush administration. Both Dubya and the NRA oppose a national database for ballistic fingerprinting of guns.
The states of Maryland and New York have adopted the system of new gun ‘fingerprinting'. Gun murders in New York have fallen in the last ten years from 2100 per year to 600 per year. Illegal guns are now generally used by criminals. and a $100 gun bought in Georgia w0uld cost around $600 on the streets of
i....1l Major firearms regulations have not been passed by the American government since 1994.
21.1 John R Lott Jnr's book More Guns. Less Crime is the bible held up as justification of gun ownership by the gun lobby in America. His findings have now been refuted.
Unsurprisingly there has been a sharp rise in gun sales since 1 1 September. with the FBI reporting 22% more background checks filed compared to the previous year. Anecdotal evidence suggests a higher
propOrtion of women are now arming themselves.
In 1998. there were 134 ‘justifiable' handgun (pistol) homicides by private citizens compared with a total of 6,498 handgun murders in
1.3;; In 1996. only 3% of women who were murdered in their home were known to have been killed by strangers. 82% were killed by
someone they knew.
Charlton Heston (who played Moses in The Ten Commandments) is president of the National Rifle Association. He was guest at a pro-gun rally in Tuscan two days after a horrific shooting at the nearby University of Arizona where a student shot himself and three professors.
linii Japan has around half the population of America. yet in 1996. 15 people were killed by handguns in Japan compared to 9,390 in America.
lit-Ell The UK government banned the private ownership of all handguns in
March 1998 following the Dublane massacre of 1996.
3.61 Switzerland has one of the highest per capita gun ratios in the world.
yet has one of the lowest gun violence rates.
lair Approximately half of all homes in America have a firearm.
71 % of Americans feel less safe when others in their community
l-Eilii Michael Moore attributes gun violence in America to people's fear and
paranoia. No bloody wonder.