America’s gun violence epidemic has no vaccine 

July 30, 2021 - 11:2

Over the past several weeks, gun violence has dominated the headlines in America. Rightfully so, as of late, shootings have come at a relentless pace.

There have been records almost broken, but no records to be proud of. According to the Gun Violence Archive, from Saturday, July 17 until Friday, July 23, at least 1,018 shooting incidents had been documented. 

That accounts for a shooting incident every ten minutes. The 1,018 shooting incidents during that time frame killed 404 people and injured nearly 950 others. These numbers are updated so the figure could end up higher. 

The injured may succumb to their wounds. If somebody didn’t know better, they would have thought a war had just taken place. The latest gun violence occurred at places of work, places of worship, grocery stores, on the streets, at parks, even at a baseball stadium. A 7-year-old girl was shot dead at a Drive-Thru at a fast-food chain, the father is fighting for his life in hospital. The reality is not many places are safe in America. Many civilians are caught in the crossfire. 

Following a spate of mass shootings earlier this year, President Joe Biden described gun violence as an “epidemic” and “international embarrassment”. The facts on the ground suggest he is correct. No place in the United States is immune to this “epidemic”. According to the U.S. President, every day in America, 316 people are shot and 106 of them are shot dead. According to the Every town for Gun Safety Support Fund, every year, gun violence is estimated to cost the United States $280bn. Money that could go to helping the nearly 600,000 homeless Americans.

Gun violence has proven to be a difficult challenge for consecutive U.S. administrations to tackle, but recent figures are very concerning, to say the least. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2020 marked the deadliest year for shooting-related incidents in at least two decades. More than 43,000 people were killed in shooting incidents. 

Analysts point to a few factors for this, such as Americans feeling a need for protecting their homes during coronavirus lockdowns; a period that saw a record number of Americans purchasing firearms. They also say former President Donald Trump’s polarizing policies put the nation on the brink of fear and civil unrest; another reason to purchase firearms by both his supporters, which include white militias and his opponents who feared them. Indeed, a recent homeland security report said white supremacists pose the biggest domestic terror threat. Other contributing factors that have been highlighted are inequality gaps and strained relationships between police and the local communities they serve. 
Naturally, the more firearms on the streets, the higher the risk of gun violence. 

However, more alarmingly is that data from the Gun Violence Archive suggests this year is on track to beat 2020 as the deadliest year for shooting-related incidents in at least two decades. The number of injuries, along with the overall number of shootings that have killed or injured at least one person exceeds those of the first five months of 2020. So far this year, 24,000 people have been killed from shooting incidents. 

Highlighting the magnitude of the shooting incidents, earlier this month, New York became the first American state in history to declare a state of emergency, with governor Andrew Cuomo saying gun violence is taking more lives than covid-19. But this epidemic has no vaccine. While some Democrats have in the past tried to tighten controls on gun sales, this has proven difficult to pass through a congress that, mostly republicans, strongly opposes any firearm regulations. 

The GOP, along with some democrats strongly believe in the second amendment ‘the right to bear arms’; legislation ratified by Congress in 1791. 

Not 1971. The year 1791. 

The text of the Second Amendment reads as follows: “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.” Less than 25 words that sum up America domestically and reflects its military adventurism internationally. America was built on people carrying firearms and that culture has only intensified and morphed into something bigger over the past centuries. 

Let’s put aside the controversial debate with regards to the wording of the text which clearly stipulates “militias” have the right to bear arms and not individuals. The next obvious question is when all this innocent American blood that has been shed and all the innocent lives that could have been saved and after all the mass shootings and other massacres, would it not be reasonable for the American congress to ask itself, that after 230 years, one of these 27 amendments we have sitting here before us might need a second look. Is that too much to ask? Is it not obvious that 230 years ago, it would take a minute or so to even load a rifle before someone can fire one bullet from it? 

On October 1, 2017, a 64-year-old man fired more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition at a crowd attending a festival in Las Vegas, killing 60 people and injuring 411 others between 10:05 pm and 10:15 pm. That’s a time frame of five minutes. Yes, believe it or not, the firearms industry has developed significantly over the past 230 years. But try telling that to congress who won’t budge despite the deadly topic becoming an ever increasingly polarizing theme in the country. The reason congress members, especially the GOP, won’t budge is quite simple. It all goes back to the powerful National Rifle Association, a group that advocates heavily for gun ownership and a group that has very heavy lobbying powers in Washington DC. Political lobbying stretches all the way back to the early 1930s and strongly influences policy decisions on Capitol Hill. 

The NRA has millions of members and spends millions of dollars lobbying lawmakers. Once you are on the payroll of the NRA, which many representatives are, then it’s difficult to see changes in the foreseeable future. 

Unfortunately, lobby groups are the heart of American politics, in essence, they are the one who shapes future policy, not the lawmakers themselves. The congress members are just the face of the lobby groups. A good example here is the very aggressive Zionist lobby in Washington DC that shapes American foreign policy in West Asia, nothing is going to change when it comes to Washington’s approach to the mass killings and massacres occurring in occupied Palestine. The Zionist lobby obviously doesn’t care about the genocide of Palestinians in their homeland. Likewise, the NRA doesn’t care about the families of victims of gun violence who are being killed on their own soil. 

At the moment, Biden’s nomination for the head of the ATF, the U.S. agency that plays the biggest role in overseeing gun rights, David Chipman, is in doubt. Gun control advocates had hoped Chipman who himself is a strong supporter of stricter gun laws would take the position and play a crucial role in the fight against gun violence. Standing in the way of this nomination which looks like it’s doomed to fail; is none other than the NRA and Republicans in the pocket of the lobby group.
 

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