No other nation on earth would tolerate this bloodshed.
Published on March 12, 2018
On February 14, 2018, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed. Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19 years old, was identified by witnesses and confessed to the crime.
I believe that if a disconcerted and disturbed individual such as Nicolas Cruz, irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation, politics, religion or race was residing in any other country in the world other than the U.S, the probabilities of such a nonsensical and heinous act would diminish considerably. Surely the million-dollar question remains "Why?"
When a string of incompetent excuses is voiced over and over again in political forums like a rusty old music box by the pro-gun organizations, spearheaded by the National Rifle Association (with five million self-reported members paying $40 annual memberships), oftentimes the blame is aimed at the suspect's mental health issues and the failure of the system to detect such an individual. Can "the rest of the world" boast of a superior mental health syndrome detection program? Is that the major underlying factor that Americans must digest?
The consequences of the actions of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed 77 people, naturally led to rapid and draconian anti-gun laws. It would have been "political suicide" to even hint opposition to the implementation of any pertinent protective legislation. The irate and despondent eyes of the families and friends of the innocent victims sufficed. Or perhaps the story of Australia, which had 13 mass shootings in the 18-year period from 1979 to 1996 but none in the succeeding 22 years, is worth examining?
The gun culture in United States, which is stringently protected by the second amendment- the U.S Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights- epitomizes a clear and present danger! Can American gun lovers genuinely claim that the automatic rifles are capable of defending their heritage against the might of the Pentagon, since the government is the designated arch enemy? An AR-15 automatic rifle can mow down elementary school children but it can't take down an F-35 combat aircraft! The "We need to protect ourselves against the tyranny of the government" argument might have held some stature over two centuries ago primarily because of a hostile British army, but today, it's nothing short of delusional and archaic. One could forcibly argue about "the dexterity" of the people that used muskets and matchlocks in regard to automatic weaponry!
Mass shootings in the US have occurred 1,624 times in 1,870 days. No other developed nation comes close to the rate of US gun violence. Americans own an estimated 265 million guns, more than one gun for every adult.
Data from the Gun Violence Archive reveals there is a mass shooting- defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter- nine out of every ten days on average. In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1st, 2018.
The above statistics are mind boggling to the vast majority of American citizens, however, a minority thrives financially from the phenomenon. Sadly, the morning after such a tragedy, the gun shop tills ring more frequently than ever. The prominent members of the NRA relaunch the customary phobia that Uncle Sam and liberals will confiscate guns, and that gun-shops will soon dissipate followed by the imposition of a tyrannical regime from Washington D.C. The NRA's habitual evasive rhetoric accompanied by crocodile tears on the media, alongside the "Hope and Pray" cliché is seriously outdated, and above all, insulting to the memory of the victims.
The fangs and claws of the NRA run deep into the corridors of power in the nation's capital. They incessantly shower receptive candidates and elected politicians with hefty financial support and in return demand heartless denials or even silence from sponsored politicians. Gun law legislation destined for Congress is embedded with frivolous technicalities, in essence they merely represent continuity. And if by a miracle, a gun law legislation meanders its way through the perilous path to Congress, the thwart and suppress tactics are systematically put into motion. The deep pockets of the NRA have always trumped the logical evolution of gun laws and the sole solution proposed by the latter consists of "an acute increase in the number of guns."
If 70% of Americans want more gun control, and the Second Amendment stands in their way, why shouldn't they be able to do something about it? Is anyone going to kick the hornet's nest? How many more lives must be sacrificed in order for a definitive red line to be crossed?
In the eyes of many Americans the red line is camouflaged by pools of blood from the bullet ridden corpses of innocent children, women and men. Could it be partially blamed on Hollywood or video games? Perhaps an imminent danger stems from the hypothesis that the current British Royal Navy is sailing towards the shores of America to reclaim the old colony! Or by the gratuitous claims made by the ultra-conservative Tea Party and NRA intellectuals such as Sarah Palin, the woman who can skin a moose and balance a budget. The same individual who swears that polar bears are not endangered but just unlucky. Or the depraved remarks made by Congressman Donald Young who claimed during a debate on gun control last week that Jews were killed in the Holocaust because they were unarmed.
The finger pointing stratagem implemented by President Trump at the FBI or other law enforcement agencies is unsubstantiated and cheap. The current government has clumsily tried to divert the blame on the chaos relating to the Russian investigations or even unarmed classroom teachers, but the elephant remains firmly in the Oval Office.
According to studies by the Rand Corporation, powerful background checks or raising the legal age for gun ownership from 18 to 21 would put a noteworthy decline in the number of deaths. Several Presidents from both sides of the aisle have made emotional yet fruitless declarations regarding protective legislation following each massacre. They are often halfhearted and futile, akin to placing a band aid on a gunshot wound. Furthermore, the precautionary laws can be conveniently bypassed at a gun show, private sales between private people who are not licensed dealers, or via the well-oiled internet market.
In the name of civility and especially for the safety of current and future generations the time is ripe to take weapons out of "the dead cold hands" of Wayne LaPierre- the NRA's Executive VP. The latter has gone as far as calling legislation restricting gun laws as an existential threat to the American way of life. It's time for fearless and benevolent politicians from both sides of the political spectrum to tackle the wild West stance, and furthermore to cut the umbilical cord between the NRA and Capitol hill.
In a perfect world politicians would pay a price for siding and accepting financial contributions from the likes of the NRA and not the reverse. Recently, some companies have cut ties with the NRA since the Parkland high school tragedy, but the latter immediately released the following statement calling the boycott "A shameful display of political and civic cowardice." Later the same spokesman declared "The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world." Perhaps certain Americans need to be convinced by a modern-day Galileo that the NRA is indeed at the center of the calamity!
In recent days President Trump has tilted the NRA, despite the $30 million presidential campaign donation he readily accepted, by not sweeping the matter under the rug. Is it a political stunt to divert the nation's attention from brewing and unwarranted domestic and international predicaments?
What is clearly undeniable is the pain and anguish that family members and friends of all the innocent victims are feeling and the numbers are growing exponentially. I'm also convinced that gun laws will play a pivotal role in the 2018 midterm elections. All candidates regardless if new or incumbent will need to perform a fine balancing act and perhaps much will be revealed in November.