Prologue: The latest mass shooting in our country took place at Sunday worship in a rural Texas church where a gunman murdered 26 people with his Ruger assault rifle. Each time this happens , there are responses of horror. Then–calls for gun controls versus the shooters are the problem, not the guns. After the Texas massacre, President Trump called it , “a mental health problem at the highest level” and not “a guns situation”. He also noted that another man with a gun was able to wound the killer and thus save untold others from death. This reflected the N.R.A., National Rifle Association, slogan, “A good man with a gun is the answer to a bad man with a gun.” N.R.A. insists we need more gun ownership, rather than less. Note that Trump had signed a law in February revoking an Obama- era regulation that made it harder for a mentally ill person to purchase a gun.
How Can We Reduce Mass Shootings in The United States? First, let’s compare the number of guns we own to people in other developed countries. Here are two sets of basic facts: America has the highest rate by far of ownership of firearms. Guns per hundred people: United States: 88.8 Switzerland: 45.7 Sweden: 31.6 France: 31.2 Canada: 30.8 Germany: 30.3 Australia: 15.0 Italy:11.9 Spain: 10.4 England: 6.2 Japan. 0.6 Conclusions from these statistics: U.S. private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada’s and 30 times as deadly as Australia. Second, we compare Mass murders per 100,000 people. United States is first with 3.0. All other countries on the original list have fractions of one , Italy 0.7 Canada 0.5 down to zero for Japan.
Certain other contrasts are striking: U.S. had 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012. No other country had more than 18 mass shooters. Are we a violent society? Since we are the most complex country of multiple races, ethnic goups, religions and nationalities, does that lead to increased violence among the groups and individuals? Researchers have studied racial tensions and violence for years. In the current century, with the first African American president, Barack Obama, the incidents of violence against black Americans shot upward. During the Trump presidency, Charlottesville produced violence when Neo Nazis and Ku Klux Klan marched . However, most researchers do not conclude that our complex makeup is a major cause of mass shootings. Does the U.S. have more mental illness than other countries? Does our health care system give service for mental illness comparable to other developed countries? Are veterans of our long wars who have PTSD( Post Traumatic Stress )receiving proper treatment? Answers to these questions are not as strong as many Americans would hope for.
Researchers agree that only one answer explains Mass Shootings in the United States: Owning 300 million guns!
First: Stop talking about “gun control”…. Change to “Gun safety” or “Reduce gun violence”. Next: Concentrate on actions majorities of Americans agree should happen. From Pew Research Center survey that compared agreement of gun households with households with no guns on major actions. Background checks for all gun buyers. 93% to 96%; Preventing the mentally ill from buying guns. 89% for both groups; Nationwide ban on sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes. 88% to 85%. Banning gun purchases by people on no fly lists. 82% to 84%. Federal mandatory waiting period. 72% to 89%. Ban on making a semi-automatic gun work like an automatic gun. 67 % to 70%. Create a federal data base to track gun sales. 54% to 80%. Ban on sale of high ammunition magazines. (l0 bullets plus) 44% to 77%.
Major question: If the American people want all these measures to happen, why has the Congress failed to pass any laws? The National Rifle Association keeps a score card on how every Senator and House Representative votes. They are the most powerful lobby in the country. Citizens have to elect senators and representatives who work for “gun safety” in this country.
Epilogue: After Britain had a mass shooting in l987, they instituted strict gun control laws. Australia did the same after a 1996 mass shooting. But the United States has repeatedly faced the same choice and has failed to do so. Dan Hodges, a British journalist , wrote on Twitter ,five years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that murdered 20 first grade students at an elementary school in Connecticut, “In retrospect, Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”