My heart goes out to all those affected by yet another mass killing in the USA – this time a cowardly attack on unarmed worshipper’s – including Grandmothers and mothers dying to protect their children in Sutherland Springs,Texas. 27 people dead including lots of young children. Two of the five deadliest mass shootings in modern US history have happened in the last 35 days and yet, as per usual, Donald Trump uses a very different kind of rhetoric whenever it’s an American – it seems to be down to issues with mental health and in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs, how is it possible that people say “there was no way to prevent the massacre for taking place” and for Trump to avoid the issue of gun control when questioned, by pointing out that it was good there was a gun pointing in the other direction? Johnnie Langendorff “is a hero with a gun of the Great State of Texas. Who knows how many other people would have died without his intervention?” is what people are saying and yes, the have-a-go hero brought him down – which of course is great, but he didn’t actually stop him from killing did he.

What can be done? It’s hard to sit back and look at it from our tiny island over here, because we would be having very urgent debates about it – as we are with our rising levels of knife crime and acid attacks. Since 9/11 according to Jon Sopel in his excellent book “If Only They Didn’t Speak English” less than 100 people have been killed by terrorism in the USA, whereas ten’s of 1000’s of people have been killed by gun violence. THIRTY THOUSAND PEOPLE on average in America are killed each year by guns, including suicides. Sorry, I need to say that again. 30,000 people. Presumably, with the horrendous Vegas attack and now this Texas attack, this will surely be a record year?

On Christmas Day in 2015, more people died from gun homicide in the USA than died in the UK throughout the whole of 2013. You would expect more, of course given the comparative size of the USA compared to the UK, but this is a thousand times more, not five times more as you would imagine with the size difference.

No event so far has brought a consensus to the issue of gun control in the USA. We are a month down the line from the Vegas attack where 58 people were mown down at a music festival and it seems to me that there has been an incredibly muted response to the tragedy. Trump, who is becoming known, a year down the line for someone who doesn’t stick to the script, is sticking very much to the script where gun control is concerned and beginning to look unbelievably hypocritical. Could this be because the National Rifle Association is one of his largest backers and is very aggressive about their opposition to gun control?

I am really interested in what the women of the USA think about gun control and how to quell the surge of attacks. Is there a better way to protect people from attack? More rules to gun ownership? Not being allowed to get through the restrictions when you buy a gun and give it away as a birthday present? Stopping the black market somehow? Clearly the database system is faulty when in a statement about the latest attack, the Air Force said: “Initial information indicates that [Devin] Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations.” WHY NOT??? We all understand that there is a need to protect yourself in the sprawling vastness of America, but it is not acceptable to think that the situation is “helpless” in a country where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years.

It’s easy to say that surely if no one was allowed to own a gun, then things would be different and I understand the issue is vastly complex. However, it should NOT be easier to buy a gun than to buy cigarettes and surely this is now the time to step up the protests? Especially by parents of children they want to protect. It should also not be about kowtowing to the beliefs of your largest benefactor – even if you’ve struck a deal. Lives are at stake.

  1. To top it all off, the Republicans have just voted down a bill that would have establish a 12-member committee divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats to study the causes of mass shootings, look at ways to revamp the gun background-check system, research how mentally ill people obtain firearms and explore ways to keep domestic abusers from buying firearms.
    To a few of your points –
    More rules? Yes, in some cases. There are areas here where no background checks are required or licenses/permits required for guns, there are other places that allow men (usually ) with restraining orders out against them to keep their weapons – and guess what happens next? Laws would make it less likely that innocent people would be slaughtered by people who should never have access to guns.
    And for those who say that criminals will always get hold of guns (so let’s not bother with laws at all) – there are biometric safety devices that can be put on both safety storage and the guns themselves that would prevent complete strangers getting hold of guns, and would also stop toddlers accidentally shooting their mothers or their siblings. This technology exists and could be made mandatory but it’s not happening.
    And then of course, there’s the law that bans any civilian from ever owning a semi-automatic or other military style weapon. You don’t need one of them to shoot deer.

    • Family Affairs on

      Thank you so much for your comments on this – so with the US voting system it’s likely nothing will ever happen it seems….Lx

  2. It’s a multi-faceted issue and obviously we have huge break downs in mental health treatment in the United States. While almost all mass shooters have some history of mental health problems, most mentally ill people are more likely to injure themselves with firearms than other people. So we clearly need sweeping mental healthcare reforms and need to de-stigmatize the idea of reaching out for help if you need it, although I’m not a healthcare expert. But in the meantime, there are common sense gun safety policies that could be passed, including closing the gun show loophole. No one should be able to buy a gun, including an AR-15, from a private seller without a background check. Gun rights advocates will say the cost of these privately sold guns are often too much for people, but that’s hardly preventative. Another loophole we need to close is the Charleston loophole; currently someone can receive their gun three business days after they’ve filled out the background check paperwork, even if the background check has not been completed. California, Maryland and New Jersey have a “one gun a month” law, which prevents stock piling guns or bulk buying straw-purchased guns (which is typically what happens in Indiana and then those guns are brought into Chicago and illegally sold.) Some states also have a “wait period” between when you fill out the paper work for a gun and when you can take it home – I personally believe this would have an impact on reducing the number of suicides via firearm (which is the leading cause of gun deaths.)

    Specifically with the Sutherland Springs, Texas gunman, it was a massive human error that his domestic abuse charge and subsequent bad conduct discharge from the air force was not added to the database for FBI background checks. That said, there are millions of guns floating around the US right now and had he failed his background check, I have no doubt he could have gotten one illegally. Which is why I personally think the US needs to have a semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazine ban. You can argue the right to self-defense, but there is no reason these guns need to be on the street.

    With regard to Donald Trump, the NRA was one of his earliest supporters and spent more money (something like $55million) during the 2016 election cycle than they spent in 2012 or 2008. Not because they support Trump but because they were petrified of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean for gun safety laws. It’s important to note that the US has the Second Amendment, so guns will never entirely disappear (nor is anyone arguing that they should,) but claiming there’s nothing we can do would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous.

    • Family Affairs on

      That is so interesting – thanks so much for taking the time to explain the current situation so clearly to me. So there is absolutely an argument for controlling certain guns and blocking off loop-holes – but as you say, mental health is another area in the US that is on the increase and needs addressing urgently. We have the same concerns here, with suicide on the rise and it’s the young men who are most at risk – I’m quite sure if they had easy access to guns then there would be even more death by own hand…..Lx

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