SHOTS FIRED ALL TOO OFTEN! The senselessness of America’s love affair with guns

ANALYSIS: Another mass shooting of innocent children in the United States of America but will anything ever change, wonders Igor Shmaryan.

Yesterday, 19 children and two teachers were brutally gunned down in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Authorities have since confirmed that the 18-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos, was killed on the scene by law enforcement officials, bringing the current death toll to 22 people. This number could rise, with at least 15 injured victims reported, some of whom were taken to hospital in critical condition. The most shocking part is that this man shot up a school that teaches only second, third, and fourth-graders – a truly cowardly and despicable act.

Over the last 11 days, there have been three mass shootings across the United States of America which have been reported on by the mainstream media, with many other stories of gun violence over the same period going largely unreported. Alarmingly, two of these three horrific recent massacres were perpetrated by teenagers – 18-year-olds who just a few months prior were considered children themselves.

The latest senseless attack has now become the deadliest US school shooting in almost a decade, after the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six teachers in December 2012.

This week’s shooting now also holds the unenviable record as the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

Most shocking of all is that it was the 27th shooting to occur on school grounds in the US this year! That equates to over five school shootings a month, and more than one a week. Remember, that’s just school shootings.

Ten days prior to the latest horrific incident, a racially motivated attack by an 18-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist, Payton Gendron, claimed the lives of 10 Black people, shot while they werre shopping in a supermarket in Buffalo. Most of the victims were elderly citizens going about their day, stocking up on groceries during their regular weekly trip to the shops, with the shooter livestreaming the entire attack on Twitch, a popular US online steaming service. Australia’s very own white supremacist terrorist – Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch mass killer – was apparently an inspirational figure for Gendron.

The very next day, 68-year-old David Chou opened fire on a congregation of mainly elderly Asian-American churchgoers inside a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California, killing one and wounding five. If not for the heroic actions of a few fast-thinking individuals – a doctor who charged at Chou, a pastor who hit him with a chair and several parishioners who tied him up until police arrived – the casualties would have been significantly higher.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said that Chou was motivated by his hatred for Taiwan, where he was born after his family was forced to flee mainland China following Mao’s Communist Revolution. According to authorities, he chose the church at random and didn’t know any of his victims.

How many more innocent lives need to be senselessly lost before the US Congress – in particular the Senate – does something about the ridiculous gun laws that continue to rule America and claim so many of its citizens’ lives?

According to the Gun Violence Archive, the total number of gun-related deaths in the US over the first five months of 2022 is a staggering 17,194 people; with the total number of gun-related injuries coming to 14,239.

That’s almost 3,439 gun-related deaths a month, 860 gun-related deaths a week, 123 gun-related deaths a day and over five gun-related deaths an hour. And let’s not forget that there is still almost a whole week left in the month of May.

One of the most alarming statistics is the number of reported and verified mass shootings (213) and mass murders (10) that have occurred during this relatively short period of time.

But the saddest and most shocking numbers relate to the deaths and injuries of children between the ages of 0 and 17: that age group has seen 647 gun-related deaths and 1,593 gun-related injuries.

Unfortunately, all these numbers and statistics are not a recent phenomenon. America has long been plagued by gun violence.

Ratified on December 15, 1791, the Second Amendment of the US Constitution states:

“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.”

230 years on, this notion is alive and well across the US, with the words first written into the US Constitution in 1791 being used, abused and misinterpreted over the many generations since they were enacted into law. And nowhere is this more endemic than the ‘great state’ of Texas, which is home to some of the laxest gun laws in the country, and sadly, where the latest school shooting occurred yesterday.

Just last year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a wide-ranging law that ended the requirement for Texans to obtain a licence in order to carry handguns, essentially allowing anyone over the age of 21 to carry one. The landmark legislation made Texas one of the largest US states to adopt a ‘constitutional carry’ law which effectively removed most restrictions on the ability of its citizens to carry handguns.

Mr Abbott described the bill as “the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history.”

Interestingly, on September 1, 2021, the very same day that Mr Abbott brought in the ‘constitutional carry’ law, abortion became illegal in Texas. The Texas Heartbeat Act prohibits abortion when there is a detectable heartbeat, which may occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Prior to this, elective abortions were allowed up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

So, it would seem that the ‘great state’ of Texas and its ‘honourable’ Governor are more interested in preventing death through abortion by legislating against it rather than gun-related violence.

Shortly after news broke of the Uvalde school shooting yesterday, US President Joe Biden addressed the nation.

“Good evening, fellow Americans. I had hoped, when I became President, I would not have to do this again,” the nation’s leader said.

He continued by condemning the actions of the shooter and gun violence in America, and went on to pose this question to the American people:

“As a nation, we have to ask – when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”

– US President Joe Biden

It must be noted that Joe Biden was US Vice-President in 2012 and visited Sandy Hook Elementary School after the horrific school massacre had occurred. Ten years on, and he is now asking the same questions and making the same pleas to the nation as President.

The fact of the matter is that the rich and almighty gun lobby, coupled with millions upon millions of voters who demand their right to bear arms are preventing politicians in Washington DC from doing anything to eradicate senseless gun violence in ‘the land of the free’.

But let’s be idealistic for a moment and imagine a world in which these DC politicians could stop for a second and just imagine how they would feel if their loved ones were the victims of such heinous and senseless crimes, rather than counting the billions, possibly trillions of dollars they are receiving from the gun lobby in order to use and abuse an archaic, centuries old loophole in the US Constitution.

Then maybe, just maybe, some progress can be made and so many innocent lives could be saved.

About Igor Shmaryan 1 Article
Igor Shmaryan is the chief sub-editor for True Crime News Weekly. He has two decades experience across media spanning film production, advertising, music videos as well as captioning.

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