Another mass shooting in the United States. 58 people were shot dead and approximately 500 injured at a concert in Las Vegas. Though to-date the biggest mass shooting in America, incidents such as this occur frequently. In fact, this was the 273rd shooting in 275 days.
Our condolences go to those who’ve lost loved ones and whose lives have forever been changed. What now for the American citizen’s right to bear arms? Would tighter gun controls actually save lives? Is the gun lobby simply too powerful for the introduction of tighter gun controls?
Mass Shooting Statistics
According to the independent online database of gun violence in the US, Gun Violence Active, a mass shooting is an incident where four or more people are shot. In 2017 alone, there have been 273 such incidents. The same online mass shooting tracker put the number of US mass shootings in 2016 at 383, and at 358 for 2015. Some people believe, the number of mass shootings in the US to be even higher.
More People Die Because of Gun Violence Than Terrorism
In the wake of the Oregon killing, in which 10 people were shot dead, President Obama pointed out that gun violence has a far greater casualty number than terrorism. Statistics support this view. Between 2001 and 2014, 3046 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks, while 153’144 died as a result of gun violence between 2001 and 2013.
More Than 300 Million Firearms in the US
In the US, there is a firearm for every citizen. The number lies way above 300 million, making the gun industry one of the most powerful and successful in America.
Gun Control Debate
After each mass shooting, the gun control debate takes centre stage, at least for a while. Yet, despite the number of victims, the US gun laws remain unchanged. During the 2016 election campaign, Hilary Clinton vowed to introduce more thorough background checks, while Donald Trump’s stance of the issues seems to have shifted over the course of the last two decades.
Donald Trump’s Changing View of Gun Control
Back in 2000, Donald Trump seemed to be in favour of a limited form of gun control. In his book, “The America We Deserve”, he wrote:
“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” he wrote in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve.
In 2012 Trump went as far as to laud Obama’s call for tighter firearm regulations in the wake of a Connecticut school shooting where 20 children lost their lives.
During the race for the White House, Trump’s position shifted. He joined the Republican’s mainstream in preserving the 2nd amendment and viewing any tightening of gun controls as a violation thereof. Sure enough, the NRA (National Rifle Association) went on to support Trump’s bid for the White House, with NRA donations to the Trump campaign believed to be approximately $30 million.
Guns, Money, and Politics
The US gun industry has played a key role in American politics for many years. As a result, both Republicans and Democrats have struggled to counter the might of the gun lobby. While the mainstream of the Republican party openly supports the NRA, the Democrats have failed in their efforts to introduce tighter gun controls.
Since becoming president, Donald Trump signed a law lifting restrictions on the ability to purchase firearms for people receiving treatment for mental illness. The Obama administration failed in its attempt to ban assault rifles, introduce tougher background checks, and to ban high-capacity magazine clip, even in a Democrat-controlled Senate.
The fear of losing votes among pro-gun voters appears to play a significant role in preventing any change, while the gun lobby’s savvy political strategies aimed at preserving the multi-million dollar gun industry seem to be bearing fruit.
In fact, the NRA advocates making guns available to what some call “the good guys.” Instead of introducing tighter gun controls, they want to equip “the good guys” with guns.
Mass Shootings – An American Problem?
As the US must once again come to terms with gun violence, people from across the globe watch in disbelief. Barack Obama was right when he said:
“We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens” and went on to add:
“And it happens now once a week. And it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this.”
In other countries, strict legislation prevents ordinary citizens from purchasing guns. Firearm sales are severely restricted and people can only purchase guns under specific circumstances. The licensing process is rather arduous, and if the police feel you owning a gun could put public safety at risk, you will not be able to obtain a licence. Furthermore, certain gun types are banned altogether.
The Second Amendment and Gun Controls – What Do Americans Think?
Whether you would welcome tighter gun controls or an outright ban or are in favour of maintaining the right to bear arms, the increase in mass shootings ought to remain a topic of debate. Solutions must be found so that no more innocent lives are lost in such a horrific fashion.
The current system is not working, more guns are hardly a solution. As a European, I have several questions I would like to ask ordinary American citizens, including:
- Do you really want to have the right to own a gun?
- Do you feel you need a gun for protection?
- How would you feel about very strict gun controls?
Apart from what politicians and gun lobbyists are saying, I would like to find out what people think, especially those who do not use a gun for recreational/sports purposes.
Please offer us your opinion so that we can find out what people rather than politicians think about this serious issue.
Please leave a comment below and engage in our discussion. My main question is: Does the majority of Americans really hold the right to bear arms so dear? If so, why?