It is absolutely horrifying – the regularity with which we hear about mass shootings in the United States. Some disturbed young person, someone radicalised by a particular ideology, a violent racist, sometimes a misogynist… the reasons for these men going on killing sprees are different. What is common is that they all involved guns. And yet there are those who try to explain these away as the result of the mental health epidemic. While that may well be true, the sickening regularity with which mass shootings take place in the USA is because of the terrifying ease of acquiring guns; the ubiquitous presence of deadly weapons.
In Uvalde Texas, an 18-year-old opened fire in an elementary school, killing 19 children and two teachers. About 40 minutes after the shooter, identified as Salvador Ramos opened fire, he was killed by police, but not before many families were permanently ravaged by the senseless violence.
As a mother, I can honestly say that there is absolutely nothing in the world that could possibly be worse than losing a child. Families who lost a child have lost something so precious, so irretrievable, that they are unlikely to ever recover from something this horrific.
The NRA (National Rifle Association) is incredibly powerful in the USA. They are known for lobbying and funding lawmakers who parrot the trite – and deceitful line “people kill people, not guns,” at every given opportunity.
The second amendment to the American constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms. Gun-lovers cling to this with a tenacity that is as inexplicable as it is disturbing.
The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 when slavery was a reality. Those were very different times and owning guns perhaps made sense at the time. In any case, what earthly reason could private citizens have for owning automatic weapons?
Fewer guns, fewer people with access to them and fewer people die from shootings. It is pretty simple, but some very elaborate but specious arguments are proffered so that people can keep their beloved guns.
This is another excuse – that they need guns for self defence – because criminals also have guns. The gun-loving folk think that the solution is more guns and not fewer guns.
The argument about needing guns for self-defence against criminals because of inadequate policing is utterly facile in the face of the sort of shootings we keep seeing with such stomach-turning regularity.
A horrific incident takes place. There is outrage, discussion, debate, demand for change on the media and social media. Then everyone forgets about it – until the next horrific shooting.
Americans simply love their guns. They may or may not hunt, but they may still collect guns and ammunition and accessories – because where else in the world would we see a photo like this one.
For the rest of the liberal world, it is inexplicable that America seems to want to hurtle back to a dark misogynistic past with its abortion laws. And yet the attempt to control the number of guns is met with fierce resistance. Even the attempt to enforce stricter background checks for people who want to own guns is met with stiff opposition.
It seems truly bizarre that someone can basically walk into a Walmart and buy a gun. Lawmakers tread softly when it comes to amending any of these laws; some actually encourage people to buy guns. That is a tweet by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that has not aged well.
Guns are a political, cultural and social blind spot of the American people and their government. Unless this changes significantly, horrors such as the Uvalde Texas School Massacre will continue to be a grim reality.
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