The San Bernardino shooting has led to another round of politicians tweeting about how the victims and community are in their thoughts and prayers. This happened the last time there was a mass shooting as well. And the time before that.
According to information compiled by a Reddit subuser Guns Are Cool, there have been 355 mass shootings in the United States of America to date. Some of the most recent include the San Bernardino shooting and the Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Black Friday reached a record breaking number of background checks for gun purchasing – 185,345 total, approximately 5% more than last year. This breaks a previously reported record that occurred a week after the Sandy Hook shooting.
The strangeness here is one that’s often touted: this keeps happening. And not much is being done to tighten gun restrictions.
The US currently leads the world in number of mass shootings, according to the Wall Street Journal. Most of the other countries have much tighter gun restrictions than the United States does; Australia, in fact, made it nearly impossible to obtain a handgun and hasn’t had a problem since 1996. While the Australian national government has limited powers, it made the stance clear that it while the decision was technically up to the states, former Prime Minister John Howard made it equally clear that if they did not, his government would alter the Australian constitution to give the national government that power.
The National Firearms Agreement was then passed and while you can still own a gun in Australia, “self-defense” is not enough of a reason to get you one. Both gun related homicide and suicide rates dropped by over 50%.
In the news recently, President Obama stated a push for making mass shootings rarities by making stronger gun laws, something he’s been advocating for years. And there is still pushback in Congress and in the country. There is talk that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
However, Howard said it best in his New York Times op-ed piece in 2013:
“Certainly, shortcomings in treating mental illness and the harmful influence of violent video games and movies may have played a role. But nothing trumps easy access to a gun. It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife.”
While certainly it is people with motives that kill people, it doesn’t make sense to make it easy for them to obtain the means to do so. While it is important to address other issues like the treating of mental illnesses, it makes sense to remove an outlet for violence to give the space to address that problem instead of constantly dealing with this one.
Gun violence is a pervasive issue in American society to the extent that it has become a normalized part of American culture. Let’s not make it a permanent part.
For more statistics on gun violence in the United States, click here.
-by Kari Sonde