378 Mass Shootings and Counting: Can We Stop This Horror?

Last Sunday, 26 churchgoers were shot to death at their place of worship in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Another 20 were wounded, several of them seriously.

Church, school, concert, cinema – aren’t these supposed to be safe places?

Sunday’s murders involved an angry man who carried a military-style semiautomatic assault rifle. His attack has been labeled “the most deadly shooting at a church in recent years.

Things are so bad that we are now ranking church massacres.

The Mass Shooting Tracker reveals that there have been 378 mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2017. The group defines “mass shooting” as a single outburst of violence in which four or more people are shot.

This is terrifying, and it doesn’t have to be this way. We must not allow killings of innocent people to become normalized. They are not normal; they are an outrage. 

The New York Times makes it clear what explains mass shootings: The number of guns in the U.S., due to their ready availability. The U.S. vastly outstrips the rest of the industrialized world in terms of gun ownership and gun violence.

One Gun Per Person in the U.S.

America has more than 300 million guns, meaning about one for every citizen. As a result, 93 people die from gun violence every day in the nation. That’s almost four people an hour. By contrast, in Japan there’s less than one gun per 100 people and, on average, fewer than 10 gun deaths per year.

“Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American,” according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.”

But why is this happening? As a Brit who relocated to the U.S., I have had a hard time understanding why many Americans are so attached to their guns, and why the government doesn’t put stronger gun control measures in place.

One reason has become very clear: the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Let’s look at the facts. The assault weapon used in the most recent killings was a variation on a firearm designed for soldiers to carry into war. Why are such weapons available for purchase, when their sole purpose is to kill people?

Politicians and the gun lobby may claim that it’s not possible to distinguish between different types of firearms, but that is clearly a lie. And, as Eugene Robinson points out in The Washington Post:

“It goes without saying that there should be universal background checks for purchasing firearms. But there should also be enforcement mechanisms, with teeth, to make sure that dealers do not sell weapons to individuals banned from obtaining them. And just as there is a mandatory, comprehensive registry of automobiles, there should be such a registry for firearms and ammunition.”

However, it is in the interest of the NRA to arm every American with as many weapons as possible. It was when I became aware of how much money the NRA ploughs into American politics, and how the recipients of that money let their pocketbooks decide their vote, that I began to understand why it’s so hard to change those gun laws.

NRA Money Is Power

From The Los Angeles Times“There is no better example of the corrosive effect of money on American politics than the spending of the National Rifle Assn. The gun rights organization spent a stupendous $54.4 million in the 2016 election, almost all of it in ‘independent expenditures,” meaning spending for or against a candidate but not a direct contribution to a campaign.

The money went almost entirely to Republicans to a degree that almost looks like a misprint (but isn’t): Of independent expenditures totaling $52.6 million, Democrats received $265. This infographic gives you all the details.

Thanks to this large infusion of cash, Republican politicians are more than happy to parrot the lines that the NRA uses after each mass shooting: first they declare that it’s outrageous to “politicize” such events by discussing the importance of gun control. Next they pull out a gun-control proposal and prove how it would not have prevented the particular tragedy from happening.

Donald Trump led the field on November 7 at a press conference in South Korea when he was asked if he believed in “extreme vetting” for gun buyers as he has advocated for individuals entering the U.S. from other countries.

After offering the standard “thoughts and prayers,” Trump declared that such vetting would not have stopped last Sunday’s massacre in Texas. (We know now that a domestic assault conviction should have prevented the murderer from buying an assault rifle, but it was never recorded in a national database.)

In fact, Trump praised the man who went after the killer: “And I can only say this: if he didn’t have a [gun], instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.”

Trump also called the massacre a “mental health problem at the highest level” and not “a guns situation.”

Double irony here, as Trump lumps all people with mental illness into one group, but if he is laying the blame on mental illness, then why did he sign a law last February that revoked an Obama-era rule that made it harder for people with mental illness to access guns?

How To Change The Gun Culture

A glimmer of hope emerged on November 7, as the #2 Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn, appeared to disagree with Trump and suggested it was time to start looking at background check loopholes that can lead to mass murders. Let’s hope this is just a first step in the right direction.

In this Care2 post, s.e. smith suggests contacting your federal lawmakers and provides several talking points in regards to gun control.

Ultimately we need to get rid of lawmakers who are so heavily funded by the NRA. With midterm elections coming up in 2018, let’s start supporting and working for those candidates who are in favor of laws to reduce gun violence.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need action.

Photo Credit: brian.ch.

89 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill13 days ago

The answer to the question in the title is no. We will never stop the killing. The problem is not with guns, it lies in the hearts of evil people. The killing will only stop when Jesus comes back and sets up His Kingdom.

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Deplorable and despicable Trigger Happy Bastards. Do what Australia done will solve many problems Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Another one this morning 15/11/17 California So very sad innocent children loosing their lives.Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

It will never stop while the NRA runs Congress sad to say Thank you for caring and sharing

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Joan E
Joan E2 months ago

We can't do it until Republicans decide to become sane.

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Winn A
Winn A2 months ago

:-(

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Winn A
Winn A2 months ago

Petition Signed

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Colin C
Colin C2 months ago

Thanks for this informative article

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing. Signed

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E2 months ago

@ eric lees
This has absolutely NOTHING to do with your "second amendment" and you know it. You're like the other bullies here who call members "clueless", etc..
YOU post out of fear and misinformation that "someone " wants to take your guns away.
Did you actually look up the phrase "common sense'? Can you justify the fact that the US has the highest number of gun incidents in the civilized world? That does include murders, accidents and suicides.
Your gun mentality is mind boggling.

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