another school shooting incident happens in the United States,
I find myself wondering how come this only ever happens in America?
You never hear of school shootings anywhere else in the world.
It leaves me wondering, yet again, wether Americans are actually
a savage people or whether maybe their near fanatical obsession
to their constitutional "right to bear arms" is just
blinkered thinking in a culture of violence that yesterday saw
yet more students gunned down in a place that should be safe.
The latest school shootings will no doubt stir the gun control
debate once more. Those people who enjoy firearms will doubtless
speak up in defense of all the people who have a gun but haven't
yet use it to kill anyone. Politicians will do their best to be
sympathetic while trying very hard to slide around the issue of
imposing sensible gun control in a country that kills more people
with firearms every year than the rest of the developed world combined.
In the year 2000, of the 275 million people living in the United
States, 10,801 of them were murdered by someone using a gun. Yet
despite having over 100 million more people than the U.S, the European
Union saw only 1,260 firearm homicides take place in the same year,
and Japan, a country of 127 million people, had just 22 gun related
someone who lives in a country with very strict firearm controls,
I find myself completely perplexed by the apparent resistance in
the United States to gun control laws that might have prevented
yesterdays killings, and the 80 or so gun related killings that
occur each and every day, in the United States.
According to statistics from WHO (the World
Report for Violence and Health for international firearm mortality),
Americans are 175 times more likely to be murdered by someone using
a firearm than somebody living in the UK. You might assume that
in the UK a killer would instead use another weapon, but figures
do not support that assumption. In fact there are still nearly
4 times as many non-firearm related homicides in the U.S. than
the UK according to the
amendment of the U.S.
Constitutions states that "A well regulated
militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right
of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." But
there is no clear indication of what exactly a "well regulated
One reason often given for gun ownership within the United States
is that the firearm was purchased "for protection." This
is all well and good, but the constitutional understanding seems
to be that the firearm is being purchased for the owner to protect
themselves from a wayward government, not a wayward fellow citizen;
for that there is law enforcement.
It seems strange to me that many Americans will cite terrorism
as the biggest threat to America today when in truth they are far
more likely to be shot and killed in a violent crime than any act
average, the annual mortality rate from firearms incidents (be
that murder, suicide or accidents) in the United States is around
30,000. In 2001, America's worst ever year of domestic terrorism
that saw the twin towers and the Pentagon attacked, 2,996 people
were killed by terrorists. Yet despite the fears of many, the number
of victims of domestic terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11 has yet
to climb into double digits, while at the same time another 150,000+
Americans have been killed in gun related incidents.
After 9/11 the United States government introduced a raft of sweeping
laws that seem to deeply encroach upon the highly valued "freedoms" of
the American people. There seemed little resistance to so called
'anti-terror' laws which were softly sold as 'making America safer'
to anyone who paid enough attention to ask. Yet after yesterdays
school shootings, and the many other such shootings that have occurred,
it seems highly unlikely that America will demand a similarly sweeping
change to make their country safer.
In the next few day there will be 33 funerals for the victims
of yesterdays school shooting, but despite the obvious dangers
and risks of such easy access to firearms it's unlikely that the
President will boldly announce a 'war on gun crime' in the same
way that war was declared on terror and drugs. Perhaps in the land
of the free, the right to own a gun is more important than the
lives of the 320 people who will die by the bullet before the end
of the week.