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America’s gun culture must change

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.


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9 Comments

  1. Clancy says:

    What does England and her laws have to do with the the US of A and her laws?

  2. April says:

    Why can’t Americans see that they don’t need guns to protect themselves. You can just as easily protect yourself with a frying pan, baseball bat or even a giant Chupa Chup lolly!

  3. John says:

    Our “gun culture” goes back to our roots when our founders departed various aristocracies and then had fight against an occupying empire for individual liberty. A determined killer doesn’t need a gun. If you actually could collect up all the guns in the US (impossible), you’d simply inspire lone wolf killers to get creative with bombs and chemicals. The biggest problem is not lax regulation as the author suggests, but a gun owner who didn’t secure her weapons properly from her basket-case kid.

    • Tabby says:

      @John, could you explain then why there aren’t any chemical bomb attacks in countries that have low gun ownership rates?
      Yes our ‘gun culture’ goes back to our founders but as the author states- there has been no acceptance in our country that times have changed.

      • John says:

        Well, there was the July 2005 London Bombings… none of those attackers had guns right? And of course, the Sarin Gas attack in Tokyo in 1995. Japan has some very strict gun laws… which apparently don’t slow down their world renowned suicide rate at all. To your point, chemical attacks have not been too widespread, but the fact remains that a determined killer is not going to be stopped by gun control, gun laws, or any other restrictions on the law abiding public. Private gun ownership prevents oppression of the people. Gun control is a tool of the oppressor. Ironic to hear such criticism from the land of colonialism that has created so many of the problems in the modern day third world through their attempt to build an empire hundreds of years ago. Try a different framework… imagine if their was private gun ownership in Cambodia? How about pre-concentration camp Germany? The number of lives saved in history by an armed citizenry would have overshadowed the small number lost to the determined mad man.

  4. Alan says:

    I’m a Brit and we have good gun control laws and as far as I’m aware no “lone wolf” “basket-case” has set off a chemical weapon.
    That fact that people think the level of guns in America and how easy you can buy one isnt the problem is frankly astonishing.

  5. Michael says:

    John – We are free citizens of a republic and not subjects, which is a major factor in what makes us the greatest country in the world. One of the reasons we are free is our God given right to bear arms, which is affirmed in our constitution. We don’t expect or require permission or understanding from those in countries other than ours. What works for you may work for you, but not for us. So unless your a US citizen, have a nice tall glass of STFU and mind your business. While your at it, if you want to impose your influence on other countries, please request that your government host the UN as well, we don’t really want their opinion either.

  6. Michael says:

    My apologies to John, my comment was not directed at him, rather to those prior. His was just the last post I had read.

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