Mass Shootings

#1
This both saddens and frightens me. What makes this worse is that the victims are all totally innocent and include children and no one seems to be doing anything about it.
I see on the news that there have been 250 such shooting this year.
 
#2
An American perspective on this sad situation:

First - keep in mind that the US is a relatively young nation whose full development (in a Europoean context) was rather recent. It is massive in area (40x the land mass of the UK) with a huge population (almost 5x the population of the UK). It's population is one of the most diverse in the world with many different and significant sized ethnicities and many different religions with many varied denominations. There is no monolithic protoypical American. Its people have many races and different backgrounds and the populations of different regions vary quite a bit. This makes for a nation of people with many differences, including their thinking.

Gun violence and especially mass killings is an issue in the US that national politicians seemingly will unfortunately not address. Much of this is due to out sized influence of the gun lobby and the money it pours into political campaigns (especially to Republicans). The gun culture in many parts of the US is strong and those region's residents are adamant about gun ownership. Much of their argument for individual gun ownership can be traced to the 2nd amendment to the US constitution:

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.

Keep in mind that this clause was written some 230 years ago (well before rapid fire guns were developed) and within a decade of the American War for Independence. That war was fought and won versus Great Britain with local American militias using the personal guns of the citizens. Ordinary people at that time had guns as they were needed for hunting food. In time as the US grew outside the borders of the original 13 states and it came into increased conflict with the native population as it seized their lands, guns were also needed by some for personal protection.

Having said all that, the America of today is a far different place than than it was 150+ years ago. There is no real need in a civilized society and fully developed nation for rapid fire guns of mass destruction. Unfortunately some in the US do not see it that way and they are able to hinder and prevent action. Most national polls show general popular support for tougher gun regulations but this falls on deaf ears in Washington DC. The US is a federal republic where the popular will of the people does not necessarily always prevail (Trump was elected President with some 3 million votes less than the top vote getter nationally). Power rests more with individual states rather than the national population.

Also keep in mind that the US election system unfortunately lends itself to much of the dysfunction you see today in Washington DC. Politicians must first run in a party primary election before the final general election pitting the parties' candidates. Many of the election districts have been developed to maximize the chances of a particular party winning. Given there is a great cultural divide in the nation, particularly between regions of the nation and even within those regions an urban versus rural difference, districts are very often skewed toward one party voter makeup. The party primaries in these districts therefore tend to select the politicians on the extremes as they have increasingly become party purity stamps. This results in the politicians being sent to Washington not typically being the compromising type. The middle ground has disappeared at the national level. This is why the American federal government is in gridlock with not much getting done.

Some states, especially those in the New England region and other parts of the northeast, are much more serious about gun regulations. Gun ownership here is far less (not as many hunting enthusiasts) than other parts of the nation and most residents want tougher regulations. Massachusetts, for instance, is considered to have the toughest gun regulations in the US. That however means little in other states. Gun ownership and the gun culture is still very strong in other parts of the US, primarily the south, plains states, and the west. Hunting is more popular in these areas and some of them were still the frontier just over a 100 years ago. Most of these areas are solid Republican strongholds and this party is very pro gun. They don't have tough state laws and the politicians they send to Washington DC prevent any action at the federal level. The US Senate in Washington DC is controlled by Republicans and they can easily kill any legislation. The Democrat controlled US House just passed in this present session tougher gun laws but the US Senate will not even allow it to be voted on. Furthermore, Republican President Trump ran on a very pro gun agenda and has consistently refused to go along with any real new regulation. If any such law regulating guns were to somehow pass both the senate and house, the president can veto it. A 2/3 majority in both the senate and house would then be required to override the president's veto and make it law. The current political makeup of both the US senate and house make that a very tall order.

It is a sad situation in the US these days where these tragedies are becoming almost commonplace. Please however do not assume that large segments of the population or even specific parts of the country do not want action. I know my home state of Massachusetts and the rest of New England want something to be done. Our states have taken action within our borders and our representatives in Washington DC would love to be able to act on a national level. The New England federal delegation however does not mirror the rest of the nation as there is but one Republican out of 33 delegates. New England is probably much closer in political thought to western Europe than it is to US states such as Texas.

I don't know what it will take to address this issue in the US. Something however really needs to be done and I hope that happens soon. More innocent people should not die.
 
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#3
That is very interesting M and I thank you for clearing up some points that were a bit hazy. We get full coverage in England of the US elections, but can you just enlighten me
on one point please. As I say we get full coverage but we don't actually get an explanation of who this gun lobby are or how they fund candidates.

You say the gun lobby and it's money influence the political campaigns, are they for one particular party or do they just pore their money into anyone no matter what their political beliefs ?
 
#4
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the main gun lobby in the US. It was originally founded in the 1870's as a club to promote the sport of shooting and educate its members on the proper use and safety of guns.

Until the middle 1970s, the NRA mainly focused on sportsmen, hunters and target shooters, and was not active in gun control issues. New national gun control measures in the late 1960's resulted in a shifting of its mission. The NRA came to be dominated by guns rights activists who took control over the organization.

It then subsequently shifted focus more toward politics and established its lobbying arm. Up until the 1970's it was a very non partisan group but since then has become increasingly allied with the Republican party and poured massive amounts of money into the electoral process.

It is estimated to have spent some $30M alone in helping to elect Donald Trump who promised the group he would do all he could to protect gun ownership. The NRA has been against nearly any effort in the last 50 years to in any way regulate ownership of any type of gun.

Any politicians that supported measures to do so were threatened with retribution and the group often did all it could to defeat anyone it considered an opponent on unfettered gun ownership. Today's NRA is almost exclusively allied with the Republican Party spending tens of millions each year to help its candidates get elected.

The NRA had annual revenues and expenses in excess of $400M in 2016. It is probably far greater now. It generates its revenues from fundraising, sales, advertising and royalties, and most of the rest from membership dues. A big chunk of its money comes from corporate donors that include a variety of companies such as outdoors supply, sporting goods companies, and firearm manufacturers.

The organization did not even change its stance after the murder of 20 innocent first grade children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in CT back in 2012 as it continued its refusal to endorse any new restrictions on assault-style gun ownership, or to endorse any other types of new restrictions on gun ownership.

Its proposed solution to this tragedy was to call for the placement of armed security guards in all schools across the nation. It furthermore promotes measures to increase concealed carry laws (the right for people to carry firearms on their person anywhere at all times) as it argues this would be a deterrent.

The group is even against so called "red flag" measures that would take away guns from those that might be found to have mental health issues. It views any and all proposals to in any way restrict gun ownership or ban certain weapons as an all out attack on the US Constitution and its 2nd amendment and fights them tooth and nail. It will not give an inch and is not open to any compromise.
 
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#5
Please see my entry in the "Have your Say" part of this Forum.
We as you probably know are currently having a very bad time with knife crime especially in London and our other big cities.
My take opinion on this centres on the drug situation - its so wrong to decriminalise any drug, but there's money in it and lets face it money is king - so I think
 
#6
Thankyou for such a well written explanation of the gun situation in the US. It certainly cleared up a lot of things for me. As you say, without a political consensus on gun control, I can't see the situation changing. There must be multi millions of weapons in circulation in the states, even then, the task of de-arming and the collection of what must be a vast personal arsenal of gun owing Americans will be monumental in it's self.
 
#7
So it would seem that as no one, especially politicians, are doing anything about it or even speaking out against it, then they are all bent and taking backhanders.

Why don't the public rise up against it, I know there have been some demonstrations but they never come to anything and are mainly just a handful with a placard or two and they soon fizzle out.

Why isn't there something on the scale of the Vietnam War demonstrations, at least they would force some sort of response from those in power.
 
#9
So it would seem that as no one, especially politicians, are doing anything about it or even speaking out against it, then they are all bent and taking backhanders.

Why don't the public rise up against it, I know there have been some demonstrations but they never come to anything and are mainly just a handful with a placard or two and they soon fizzle out.

Why isn't there something on the scale of the Vietnam War demonstrations, at least they would force some sort of response from those in power.

No. Many politicians are speaking out about it. They are however mostly Democrats but there is not the huge majority consensus from both parties that is needed to do something.

Keep in mind that not even a simple majority can get laws passed at the national level in the US. A 2/3 majority is required in the Senate to open and move any legislation forward before it can even be voted on. Legislation could pass both the Senate and House and the President could veto it. Each chamber would then require a separate 2/3 majority to override the veto.

Ordinary citizens protest. Some of the most compelling of these are the survivors and families of those killed in some of the past mass shooting tragedies (most notably Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas). Their stories can literally bring some people to tears. They however do not move pro gun supporters. Gun supporters have attacked the credibility and intentions of thes epeople. There are even some right wing media personalities that have sickenly propagated conspiracy theories that shooting such as Sandy Hook where 20 first grade children were murdered, were hoaxes and not real.

As you in the UK should know with the Brexit situation, passing law is much easier said then actually done.
 
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#10
Many ordinary people are getting quite frustrated with the inaction here in the US.

Typically after each mass murder, Democrat politicians will blame guns and plead for more gun control measures and restrictions or bans on certain weapons. Republicans usually express sadness and send their prayers and thoughts to the victims and their families. The Republcians typically never blame guns. They instead point the blame on the shooter, mental illness, proliferation of violent video games, and the breakdown of the family.

Just to give you some perspective, look no further than the actions of Walmart, America's largest retail chain and site of the El Paso shooting. This company is headquartered in Arkansas (deep south) and is more popular in the south and plains states where people are very pro gun. Their course of action after 22 were killed at its own store was not to stop selling guns. Their nationwide response was to remove violent video game signage and displays in stores.

Here is a tweet about empty words making the rounds in the US after yet two more mass shootings just hours apart:

 
#12
Thankyou for such a well written explanation of the gun situation in the US. It certainly cleared up a lot of things for me. As you say, without a political consensus on gun control, I can't see the situation changing. There must be multi millions of weapons in circulation in the states, even then, the task of de-arming and the collection of what must be a vast personal arsenal of gun owing Americans will be monumental in it's self.
Multi millions? Sadly it is hundreds of millions.

It is thought that the number of guns in the US is actually higher than the number of people. A 2018 survey estimated that there were 393M guns in the US, a nation of some 326M people.

Do not however incorrectly assume that most Americans own guns. It is thought that approximately 25% of Americans may own guns with it varying greatly by region. Gun owners however tend to own many guns. It has been estimated that just 3% of the US population owns half the guns in the country.
 
#13
Sorry, I didn't mean to infer that it was today, it was meant to say that all those years ago they
were bringing their children up on guns. Start with an air rifle and end up with a war weapon.
 
#14
Sorry, I didn't mean to infer that it was today, it was meant to say that all those years ago they
were bringing their children up on guns. Start with an air rifle and end up with a war weapon.

Those kids back then however did not grow up to be perpetrators of mass shootings.

Toy guns were also prevalent when I was growing up the late 1960's. We had cap guns and played cowboys and indians and cops and robbers. My generation however also did not become killers like we see today.

Many of the shooters you see today are young disaffected males that did not grow up in a culture with toy guns as they have mostly disappeared in recent few decades for not being politically correct. More complex and less overt things seem to be at play today. A lot of these killers are loners that do not interact socially with a lot of people. Many tend to spend hours alone on their computers (or tv's) playing video games and surfing the darker side of the internet. It is probably fair to describe many as not having a healthy and stable mental and social state. Adding easy access to rapid fire guns is like like throwing gasoline on a fire.
 
#15
Surely this problem which seems to have no end should be taken up en mass - across all political barriers. How on earth can anyone justify having possession of a Machine Gun!!!
Start with that sort of weapon and work down to the derringer I say. The use of very heavy penalties would be the stick - the loss of lots of money and time over the wall must surely have an impact.
 
#16
This will only end if the public takes action on it but at the moment that doesn't seem to be happening, ok maybe the odd one here and there but I mean a concerted nationwide action.

As you say, why is it ok for an ordinary person to own a weapon of war.
 

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