Reading Time: 4 minutes / glauco aio
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The death of countless children appears not to be enough to spur politicians into action. It enrages me, but this is undoubtedly nothing compared to the rage felt by the many victims and family members affected.

This video sums it up:


This chart shows what an outlier the US really is:

Now, there is nothing new to add to this debate that readers won’t already have heard. People’s minds won’t be changed. Second Amendment advocates (evangelicals?) won’t change their minds. More guns will be the answer. Because, you know, you can’t amend an amendment.

The New York Times has recently published a good synopsis of the problem, and concludes that the only thing that adequately explains the volume of shocking shootings is the sheer number of guns in the US. And the problem appears to be that America sees the unnecessary death of children and adults alike as a fair trade-off:

The main reason American regulation of gun ownership is so weak may be the fact that the trade-offs are simply given a different weight in the United States than they are anywhere else.

After Britain had a mass shooting in 1987, the country instituted strict gun control laws. So did Australia after a 1996 shooting. But the United States has repeatedly faced the same calculus and determined that relatively unregulated gun ownership is worth the cost to society.

That choice, more than any statistic or regulation, is what most sets the United States apart.

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

Whilst America represents a relatively small proportion of the world population, it dwarfs other countries in terms of number of guns (42%) and mass shootings (31% of shooters are American). America hangs out with Yemen in terms of these sorts of stats.

Some argue that mental health is the issue, but the Us does not seem to have greater mental health issues than other similar countries. (by spending rates, professional numbers or number of disorders) so that’s a no goer. Indeed, only 4% of such shootings are put down to mental health issues. Video games don’t explain it either.

Is Americ a more violent country? Not particularly. The difference is that the violence is far more likely to end in death. Because, you know, guns. Some Americans have been criticising the UK for a spike in knife-related deaths, but I would take that over guns any day.

As the NY Times states:

Rather, they found, in data that has since been repeatedly confirmed, that American crime is simply more lethal. A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, for instance, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process.

They concluded that the discrepancy, like so many other anomalies of American violence, came down to guns.

More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates. And gun control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

This suggests that the guns themselves cause the violence.

The routine nature of these horrific events is what especially stands out.

The cultural and regulatory difference between countries is also stark:

In 2013, American gun-related deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides and 505 deaths caused by an accidental discharge. That same year in Japan, a country with one-third America’s population, guns were involved in only 13 deaths.

This means an American is about 300 times more likely to die by gun homicide or accident than a Japanese person. America’s gun ownership rate is 150 times as high as Japan’s. That gap between 150 and 300 shows that gun ownership statistics alone do not explain what makes America different.

The United States also has some of the weakest controls over who may buy a gun and what sorts of guns may be owned.

Switzerland has the second-highest gun ownership rate of any developed country, about half that of the United States. Its gun homicide rate in 2004 was 7.7 per million people — unusually high, in keeping with the relationship between gun ownership and murders, but still a fraction of the rate in the United States.

Swiss gun laws are more stringent, setting a higher bar for securing and keeping a license, for selling guns and for the types of guns that can be owned. Such laws reflect more than just tighter restrictions. They imply a different way of thinking about guns, as something that citizens must affirmatively earn the right to own.

There is a sense that, like in the times of Prohibition, there are just too many guns out there to make any regulation meaningful and pragmatic.


But that’s a poor excuse for not trying.

Something has to change and I’m not sure having more guns is going to work. What certainly won’t work is doing nothing. This video shows just how much of nothing politicians appear to be doing:

Praying happens. A lot.

As ever, lobbying is part of the problem. A big, big part.

Praying appears to be correlated a lot with lobbying. RawStory has recently reported on one of Jimmy Kimmel’s writer’s research on those politicians who are making such emotional and heartfelt sounds for prayerness towards victims and their families – she has shown just how much money they have received from the NRA (The National Rifle Association, the lobbying groups for the gun industry).

It is staggering. Read it.

Nothing will happen whilst the entire elected GOP is being paid off by the NRA. Back last year the NY Times listed those recipients, an added:

All of these representatives are Republican. The highest ranked Democrat in the House is Sanford Bishop, who ranks 41st in career donations from the N.R.A. Among the top 100 House recipients, 95 are Republican. In the Senate, the top two Democrats are Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who rank 52nd and 53rd — behind every Republican but Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

It is no surprise that those politicians who refuse gun control get paid a lot of money by the NRA…

Oh, and the Florida shooter appears to have been trained by white supremacists.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...