democraciaAbierta

Mass shootings in the US: the epidemic worsens

In less than 13 hours, two mass shooters in Texas and Ohio left 23 dead and 53 injured. These are only two massacres of a total of 251 of this year so far in the US as the epidemic worsens. Español

DemocraciaAbierta
6 August 2019
Manifestación en defensa de la migración en EEUU, 2017. Wikimedia Commons.

In less than 13 hours, two mass shooters in Texas and Ohio left 23 dead and 53 injured. These are only two massacres of a total of 251 of this year so far in the US as the epidemic worsens.

This phenomenon of extreme violence began to gain force after the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012, when Adam Lanza entered a secondary school in Connecticut and killed 26 people before killing himself at the scene of the crime.

After Sandy Hook, debates arose over how to implement arms controls and how to seriously limit access to those will mental health issues, which was the case with Lanza. However, progressive congressmen and women have repeatedly failed in their fight against a conservative lobby in favour of the free use of guns that is even too powerful for the Republican party to take on.

There have been 2190 other mass shootings since Sandy Hook, including a shoot out in the nightclub Pulse in Orlando targeting the LGBT+ population that killed 50, and in a music festival in Las Vegas where there were 59 casualties reported. In total, around 2477 people have died and 9168 people have been injured.

In the US, 34,000 people a year die due to firearms related injuries, in other words, there are 9 deaths every day. In fact, among the most developed economies of the world, the US has much more elevated figures of deaths due to firearms, with 10 deaths for every 100,000 people. The US is followed by Austria, with only 3 deaths for every 100,000, while Japan and South Korea are the lowest with almost 0 deaths by firearms.

Deaths by firearms in developed economies around the world. Source: Vox. All Rights Reserved.None

The shootouts of this weekend have shook the US, disturbed by the connections between white supremacy and the incident in Texas, where Patrick Crusius drove more than 1000km from a suburb in Dallas to massacre hispanics in an El Paso Walmart shortly after publishing a manifesto on the internet where he talked of the “hispanic invasion”, that according to Trump is being experienced in the US.

This is everything you need to know about the recent violence in the US, and the laws that allow for these horrendous acts to continue occuring.

The reactions to the shootouts

It’s hardly surprising that Trump’s reaction to the most recent tragedies has caused controversy throughout the US and the world. While he denies and undermines the spread of white supremacist and racist ideology throughout the country, we are watching a plague of mass shootouts unfold, as controls are absent and a violent culture manifests itself.

After the racist shootout in Texas, president Trump didn’t recognise that his own aggressive and racist discourse against immigration is entirely related to the incident.

On the contrary, Trump opted for blaming violent video games in a speech where he affirmed that the internet facilitates the radicalization of Americans and that they can’t ignore the dangers of the internet and social media in provoking such shootouts.

Mexico lost 7 citizens in the Texas attack and declared that it will file a charge of terrorism that could imply the extradiction of the shooter

He made no mention of the lack of gun controls in the US that makes it very easy for anyone to obtain an assault rifle.

Mexico lost 7 citizens in the Texas attack and declared that it will file a charge of terrorism that could imply the extradiction of the shooter. Chancellor Marcelo Ebrard said this Sunday that “for Mexico, this individual is a terrorist”, even if the US can’t be trusted to recognise him as one.

Gun laws in the US and the world

Many public opinion surveys have found that there is popular support for tightening gun controls in the US, however the government has been incapable of putting such controls in place in a country where more citizens own guns than any other around the world.

According to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution (from 1791), the right of US citizens to bear arms shouldn’t be restricted, and although this amendment is 228 years old and the world has radically changed, it continues to act as a legal basis for those who wish for free firearms use and purchase throughout the country.

Federal law is supposed to be the ultimate arms regulator by deciding who can have a gun and who can’t, and they prohibit purchase by anyone with a criminal background, serious mental health problems, and undocumented migrants. However, regulation of arms dealers is deficient and often state laws take precedence over federal regulations.

Laws recently approved in Texas for example, with the support of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), opened up the possibility to freely purchase guns during conventions, and they also authorised carrying guns on school grounds and in places of religious worship.

The NRA is stronger than ever and the gun lobby has bought over half of the US congress that continues to support the absolutely free purchase of guns

In contrast, the European Union imposes strict regulations on its member states and complying is a necessity. The laws prohibit the most lethal weapons (normally assault rifles and automatic weapons) that are often used in mass shootings in the US, and they force member states to carry out extensive medical checks on everyone who wishes to acquire a permit.

Canada is another example of the efficient implementation of stricter arms controls. In order to receive a licence to own and purchase a gun, you must pass through medical exams and complete and pass a course in public security. In both Canada and the EU, gun crime rates are considerably lower, a product of the success of gun control policy.

The NRA is stronger than ever and the gun lobby has bought over half of the US congress that continues to support the absolutely free purchase of guns. With an openly racist president in the White House that banalises violence by attributing it to video games, but the following day talks of how the country is ‘infested’ with latinos, there is little hope.

How many more massacres and mass murderers will there be before arms controls are finally implemented in the US? In some parts of America, it is easier to buy a puppy than a semi.authomatic gun. Something must change but Trump nor his lobbyists are not even considering it. This multi-billion dollar industry is already too powerful to contain, and with one out of three American homes containing a gun, it could be too late to stop future killing sprees.

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