By Thomas Telford
“We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.” Those are the words of the US President, Barack Obama. And yet in his final year in office, he has been unable to introduce any meaningful measures to try to stop these sort of shootings. The aftermath of these shootings has become oh so predictable in the last decade or so. It can be described in 5 steps.
Step 1) President Obama holds a press conference sending his condolences to the bereaved families.
Step 2) He calls for the introduction of reasonable gun control e.g extensive background checks and a ban on assault weapons.
Step 3) The NRA responds to Obama saying that he is trying to politicise the shooting and that it’s not the time for discussion on gun control.
Step 4) The Republicans respond offering their sympathy and their prayers to the victim’s families. They criticise Obama for using this tragedy to highlight the need for gun control.
Step 5) The media moves on after a week or so until the next shooting, and the cycle repeats.
The power of the gun lobby and the NRA in particular almost makes the position of the President almost pointless when dealing with the aftermath of shootings. In any other country, just one of these type of shootings would force a change in gun laws.
That’s exactly what happened in Australia in 1996. The Port Arthur shooting was a turning point in Australian gun ownership. 35 people were killed and a further 24 (including the shooter) were injured. This led to the Australian government creating National Firearms Programme Implementation Act 1996, which restricted the private ownership of high-capacity semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns as well as introducing uniform firearms licensing. Since that day there has been no mass shooting in Australia.
A Very American Problem
According to a University of Chicago survey, it’s estimated that there are between 270 and 310 million firearms in The United States. Bear in mind that the population is around 320 million so there is almost a gun for every man, woman and child. So given that number, is it any surprise that these mass shootings have become the norm? After the assault weapons ban ended in 2004, the number of mass shooting has increased at an alarming rate.
In this piece, I will list three mass shootings that shook America to its core but has yet to force lawmakers to introduce tougher guidelines on gun ownership.
1) Sandy Hook Elementary School
In my opinion the worst shooting in US history. Not by the number of victims but by their ages. 20 children aged between 6 and 7 as well as 6 members of staff at Sandy Hook Elementary were killed. The gunman, Adam Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza before making his way to the elementary school.
One of the guns used in this shooting was a Bushmaster .223 calibre Assault Rifle. One of the main arguments gun owners have is that they need guns to protect their family. That’s fine. But why do you need an assault rifle? They cause much damage. If Assault rifles were banned then I highly doubt that Lanza would’ve been able to kill 27 people with just two pistols.
2) Pulse Nightclub, Orlando Florida
Police say 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire at the club that calls itself the city’s hottest gay bar. He took hostages, and after a three-hour standoff, police moved in. The gunman was killed, but not before perpetrating the deadliest mass shooting in recent United States history.
49 people were killed and another 51 injured. After a three-hour standoff, Mateen was shot dead by police. It was the worst terrorist attack in America since September 11. Like Sandy Hook, Mateen was able to get his hands on a Semi-Automatic rifle.
3) Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
On April 16th, Virginia Tech senior, Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on students killing 32 and wounding a further 17 in two separate attacks before committing suicide.
In the months after, it was revealed the Cho suffered from mental health issues including being diagnosed with depression at age 13. He was also bullied for a speech impediment and all of this more than likely contributed to him carrying out this crime.
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