“Shoot first, ask questions later” is a derogatory expression that reflects the fact that Americans are guaranteed the right to ‘bear arms’. Drafted as the Second Amendment of a constitution drafted in 1789, it was intended to ensure that slave-owners could legally shoot runaway slaves. The American Rifle Association, founded in 1871, a few years after the end of the Civil War, has made certain that Americans continue to believe that right applies to modern society. To achieve this, they donate huge amounts of money to each individual member of Congress, both representatives and senators.
There have been 30 mass shootings (defined as more than four people being killed) in the first month and a half of this year. In 2017, there were a total of 346, many of which occured in schools. The most horrific school shooting happened in 2012, in an elementary school in the small town of Sandy Hook, Connecticut. That tragedy brought tears to President Obama’s eyes, however he failed to pressure Congress to pass stricter gun control laws. Connecticut senator Chris Murphy stood up in the chamber this week to state forcefully that the United States is the only country in the world where these things are permitted to happen.
The one good thing to come out of the media’s relentless — and unique — negative attitude toward the current president is that it is daring to say what 94% of Americans think: that military style weapons that shoot many rounds a second must be banned from civilian life. A few newscasters are daring to repeat Senator Murphy’s forceful declaration that the US is the only country in the world where people are allowed to walk around with guns. However pro-gun personalities on news shows still go unchallenged, as the leader of the House of Representatives declares that depriving Americans of their ‘constitutionally protected’ right to carry a gun is not the solution!
While the President went on TV to say that America’s children should not be afraid because they will never be alone, governors and mayors can only repeat like a mantra that ‘we are going to figure this thing out’, which means they are going to try to square the circle: protect citizens from gun violence while protecting the gun industry, in return for the phenomenal sums contributed to their election campaigns by the NRA. The organization does not bill itself as a lobby, but as a ‘membership organization’, inviting all gun owners to join and receive, at poll time, the NRA’s grade for their candidates according to how supportive they are of guns in society. (The latest figures reveal that there are between 270 and 310 million guns in the US for its roughly 320 million inhabitants.)
Finally, how to replace ‘background checks’ for gun purchasers with a law that forbids civilians to carry a weapon in public, when the President’s base wants to “take back” their country to the time the second amendment was drafted. Currently, this involves informal militias who play war games and practice shooting in the woods on weekends, their wives watching over the food. The America they would recreate would differ in one important respect from that of colonial times: it would have a thousand military bases around the world — and they are ok with that. On the other hand, the FBI received several tips about erratic behavior on the part of the future killer, but did nothing, probably because there are so many Americans going off the deep end…..
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.