By Simon Farnsworth
Like many people living outside the US, I find it impossible to comprehend not only their gun culture but also the nation’s inability to change their attitude towards gun control after a series of appalling tragedies.
Blame it on the media, blame it on video games, blame it on mental health but don’t blame it on your average gun owner and the freely available assault rifles, said the NRA (National Rifle Association).
Put armed guards in every school the NRA said as “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”
Sadly this is not a fictional quote. This is genuinely the view of the NRA- the most influential lobbying group in the USA. Even in tragedy business prevails after all an armed guard in 130,000 schools means big money to the firearm industry.
It’s amazing that after such tragic shootings in the US this year that so many people believe that more, easily available guns makes for a safer place to live.
There are just under 300m weapons in America and this is a number on the rise as people panic bought assault rifles after the Sandy Hook shootings in case President Obama’s administration brings in tougher gun control laws. This is absolute madness. It’s plainly obvious that more guns are not the answer.
How people do not see a direct correlation between the number of guns owned to the number of gun related deaths is astonishing. America has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – there are 89 guns for every 100 Americans, compared to 6 in England and Wales.
The stats speak for themselves. In the US, there are 3.2 gun murders per 100,000 people every year- the highest in any Western democracy. Second in that list is Switzerland at 0.7 per 100,000.
Yet these stats are seemingly not enough for politicians, or the public themselves, to stand up and demand change.
A large percentage of mass shootings in the US are put down to a deranged mentally ill individual. But this is not a valid excuse. The rest of the Western world also has similar ratios of people suffering with mental illness but there are hardly ever mass shootings.
The real problem is not that these people are mentally ill; it is how easily they can lay their hands on weapons when their mind is set on destruction.
Mrs Lanza, Mother of Newtown shooter Adam, owned five guns. Here is a lady who lived in a quiet town in Connecticut but owned five guns. This of course comes from the American constitution which states that Americans have a right to bear arms. Despite written nearly 300 years ago there is no acceptance that times have changed. America is not under attack. There is no need for a middle-aged lady living in an upmarket New England town to own five weapons. Yes, Americans have a right to protect themselves but there is no need for civilians to own assault weapons in a modern Western democracy.
The media also has a case to answer. When these terrible events occur the world’s media descend on the latest grieving community. Pictures of the killer are broadcast around the world, achieving the type of publicity the killer was after. By publishing the dark nature of the killer, the media is advertising it to other maniacs, almost encouraging them to grab their 15 minutes of fame.
However, the biggest problem lies in the lax regulation over acquiring a gun. The regulation used in the UK and Australia must be looked at as they are proven to reduce the rate of gun crime. Obama has hinted at changing gun legislation but faces an uphill battle to win over the NRA influenced red seats as well as the nation. The nation’s mindset towards guns needs changing before regulation can be brought it.
This begs the question, how many massacres will it take it before gun control is finally dealt with? After all, what good can come of there being around 300 million guns in America?
Is a nationwide amnesty too much to ask? If one was put in place, the results would show how serious Americans are about changing their gun culture and stopping these all too frequent massacres.