On his 99th day in office President Donald Trump addressed an 80,000 strong crowd of predominantly white, male, National Rifle Association members.
“You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you,” Trump told the cheering crowd: “The eight year assault on your Second Amendment rights has come to a crashing end.”
Six months later, the lives of 54 Americans and 4 Canadians did ‘come to a crashing end’ as a lone gunman murdered them and wounded 851 more from the window of a Las Vegas hotel – in the worst shooting in modern American history. The killer (whose name is not worthy of mention) had no criminal record and had purchased his high powered machine gun perfectly legally.
“How could this happen?” Everyone asked as everyone asks each time these things happen and then yesterday – it happened again. A 19 year old boy – armed with a murderous assault rifle was able to march into his school and slaughter 17 of his former classmates with a legally bought semi-automatic machine gun – in cold blood.
So far in 2018 alone there have been 41 mass shootings in the USA. Since January 1st the country has had 6,575 gun incidents in total with 3,144 people injured and 1,827 dead. Of those killed or injured 69 were aged 0-11 and 333 12-17 years old. These figures exclude the approx. 1,833 Americans who take their own lives with weapons every single month.
Now – as a Brit – these stats are just mind blowing. Yes gun and knife crime remains an issue in the UK – but the figures just pale in comparison. Since 1996 just 30 people (still too many) have died in mass shootings in the UK. By way of comparison, that is eight fewer in a 22 year period than have died in mass shootings in the USA in the month of February 2018 – so far.
Yes – illegal guns still kill people in the United Kingdom – but you don’t need to have a diploma in statistics to see what a difference strict gun control makes.
“Oh those crazy Americans! Why don’t they do something?” Goes up the cry whenever a terrible incident like this happens, but the truth is that the vast majority of US citizens are already, overwhelmingly in favour of stricter controls.
Gallup data demonstrates that overwhelmingly, over time, the American public has wanted harsher curbs on domestic ownership of weapons (currently 62%) and that a similar number (59%) don’t actually own a firearm at all. Indeed – only 38% of Americans want gun controls kept as they are (33%) or less strict (5%).
So what the hell is going on? In three letters – NRA. The National Rifle Association with its (claimed) 5 million members (1.5% of the population) continues to hold the USA by the balls. With a highly active and political membership the organisation has consistently backed anti-gun control candidates. In the last Presidential election, according to the Guardian
“The NRA (made) independent expenditures worth $53.4m. And the cash seemed to have been well spent. The NRA poured $14.4m into supporting 44 candidates who won and $34.4m opposing 19 candidates who lost.”
Truth may not belong to those who shout loudest, but it seems that in modern America the will of a firearm obsessed minority continues to take precedence over the will and indeed safety of the majority and the basic principles of sanity.
In a mature democracy nobody, least of all a 19 year old with known behavioural issues, should be able to get their hands on a murderous, military grade, semi-automatic gun. It’s clearly time for the majority of sane and rational Americans to take back control.