On the 3rd and 4th of August 2019, 32 people were killed and 51 injured in two separate mass shootings in America. Hundreds of family members and friends left grieving, and bystanders forever replaying the traumatic circumstance again and again inside their heads. Communities destroyed by the loss of life, thousands fearful of the future and millions left shocked and overwhelmed by the situation.
I am Australian. I feel helpless. I can’t even begin to gain a comprehensive understanding of the American system and the obsession with guns. In April 1996, the Port Arthur massacre left 35 people killed and 23 injured, one of Australia’s largest mass shootings, and one of the last mass shootings. After the massacre, Prime Minister, John Howard, restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, shotguns and tightened recreational shooters guidelines. A “buy-back” scheme was introduced, costing millions of dollars, but protecting the lives of Australians. It is no coincidence that the rate of mass shootings in Australia has declined since the new legislative reforms. A study by scholars at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University found that the 22-year absence of mass shootings in Australia are due to chance is 1 in 200,000. The argument that ‘gun control does not stop mass shootings’ is illogical.
Yes, I understand that American and Australia are different countries, with different customs and cultures. What I don’t understand is the constant denial of guns being linked to shootings and the deaths of innocent civilians.
Currently, I see no change occurring in America for several years. Donald Trump is reliant on the support of the NRA and Trump will still be president of the next year…at least. Responding to the recent mass shootings, Trump made a statement regarding the introduction of the death penalty for individuals who commit hate crimes. There are some significant issues with this new legislation:
- If we are honest, most individuals who commit hate crimes are either a) killed by law enforcement or b) commit suicide during the act of terrorism. This new legislation which is going to ‘stop the systemic shootings in America’ will have no impact. Murdering multiple people is not a thought which enters the mind of a mentally stable person, the people who commit these crimes have already acknowledged the fact that they may die, they are willing to take that risk to achieve their aims, this new legislation will not act as a deterrent at all.
- Try and think of a time in our world when violence helps in ceasing violence. I would love someone to tell me somewhere that violence stopped violence. This is archaic thinking, but it is popular thinking. You hit me, so I will hit you back. This thinking fuels retaliation, it fuels the systemic violence, which is currently plaguing American society. What we have seen in our world over the past few years, is the back and forth retaliation of race-inspired terrorist attacks, from Christchurch to Sri Lanka and now to El Paso in Texas.
I want to go to America and speak to the NRA. I need to understand their obsession with guns and why they think that the answers to mass shootings are more guns. Why are weapons of destruction more important than innocent lives? These guns are not for protection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rR9IaXH1M0), the second amendment was created because there was no military within America, so what are we left with? We have guns because we want guns. Now is the time for Americans to rise up against the powerful NRA and Trump in the upcoming election. Change must occur now because as stated earlier, these retaliation attacks will continue, and more innocent lives will be lost.
Guns or people. For me, the answer is obvious. Maybe I will never know why for others the decision is so difficult to make.