Foreign politicians and media once again attacked America's "gun
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said tough legislation
introduced after a mass shooting in Tasmania in 1996 had prevented
the US gun culture emerging in his country.
After the shooting Australia imposed laws banning almost all types
of semi-automatic weapons.
"We showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such
a negative in the United States would never become a negative in
our country," said Howard, extending sympathies to the families of
the victims at Virginia Tech University.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela
Merkel also expressed their sympathies.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was "shocked" and "saddened," a
spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said.
Along with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, the queen is set
to pay a two-day visit to Virginia early next month to commemorate
the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement, her first visit
to the United States in 16 years.
Iran, at loggerheads with the United States over its nuclear
program, spoke out against the killings.
"Iran condemns the killing of Virginia university students and
expresses its condolences to the families of victims and the
American nation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini
said in a statement.
European newspapers saw a grim inevitability about the
shootings, given the right to bear arms which is enshrined in US
constitution. In Italy, the Leftist Il Manifesto newspaper
said the shooting was "as American as apple pie".
More than 30,000 people die from gunshot wounds in the United
States annually and there are more guns in private hands than in
any other country. But a powerful gun lobby and support for gun
ownership have thwarted attempts to tighten controls.
"It would be vain to hope that even so destructive a crime as
this will cool the American ardor for guns," the
Independent newspaper said in a commentary.
Gerard Baker, a columnist for The Times newspaper,
feared worse was yet to come: "The truth is that only an optimist
would imagine Virginia Tech will hold the new record for very
France's Le Monde newspaper said such episodes
frequently disfigure the "American dream".
"The... slaughter forces American society to once again examine
itself, its violence, the obsession with guns of part of its
population, the troubles of its youth, subjected to the double
tyranny of abundance and competition," it wrote.
Campaigners in other countries where gun ownership is common
expressed fears of a similar massacre.
(China Daily via agencies April 18, 2007)