If America is tired of mourning gun violence she must take action

America — Oh! say can you see — what is happening to thee? — Gun violence is eating away at your national soul.

Already battling her own evils, America is now caught up in yet another mass slaying.
The lesson to be learned from this ghastly carnage is that there will be more such shootings. The usual reaction will follow, ones that we have seen and heard far too often: nonstop media coverage, opinions of weapon analysts, lowering of flags at half mast, moments of silence, offering of thoughts and prayers, and a day of national mourning…
Tragedies such as the latest one at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, have become a part of everyday American life while the world watches on as helpless spectators.
Mass shootings have become the new normal and responses have become ritualized.
The inability of the American government to react legislatively following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, and the death of twenty-seven innocent individuals, has caused America to go into mourning once again.
Following the shooting, President Obama in a televised address said, “We are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
America preferred to talk her way through, looking instead for reasons not to address the real issue, such as semi-automatic weapons that could be modified or bumped up, or high occupancy magazines.
If the killer was Black, then the actions are blamed either on his upbringing or Black people’s proclivity for committing crime. Should the shooter be Latino then gun control talk is replaced by talking about building walls and banishing people.
Muslim shooters are people, who hate real Americans, and a white shooter is suffering from a mental health issue and it is too soon to politicize a tragedy. All of these excuses fall pitifully short of dealing with the real issue and none of them protect us from becoming the next victim or being thrown into mourning by the next tragedy.
But how often will America mourn? Again, what America needs most of all is action to lower the gun toll, thereby less mourning.
By far the United States is the world leader in the number of guns in the hands of civilians.
In other more advanced countries, stricter gun laws have curbed suicides, gun accidents and homicides.
Granted, in a country that is inundated with 300 million firearms, some criminals will always be able to obtain guns, and there is a likelihood of higher gun death rates than Europe.
However, generally speaking we have established policies that reduce the toll of harmful or deadly products around us. No single solution, just cumulative efforts. Like what is done with cars – seat belts, driver’s licenses, air bags, crackdown on drunken driving. With swimming pools – childproof gates, fences, pool covers. It is what should be done with real guns.
According to the Shooting Tracker website, America averages more than one mass shooting daily. Democrats have stressed the need to address the issue of mental health, while Republicans emphasize the need to address America’s problems with guns.
When will learning take place?
The Port Arthur massacre in April 1996, the worst mass murder in Australia’s history, shook the country to its core. A lone gunman, Martin Bryant, opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur (former penal colony), Tasmania, killing 35 people and wounding 23 more.
There had been mass shootings before, but this massacre served as fuel to the pyre. Twelve days after the massacre, the Australian government, led by then Prime Minister John Howard, announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures.
Underlying the push was an extensive buy-back of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and also required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.)
The Australian government subsequently introduced the National Firearms Agreement, a legislation that outlawed automatic and semi-automatic rifles as well as pump-action shotguns. A nationwide gun buy-back scheme also saw more than 640,000 weapons turned in to authorities. There had been 11 mass shootings in Australia in the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, but not a single one since.
In the U.S., ladders kill about 300 people yearly, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has produced seven pages of rules about ladders. On the other hand, the federal government is still struggling to reduce gun deaths, with a toll more than 100 times as high.
According to the State Department, billions of dollars are being spent on tackling terrorism, which killed 229 Americans worldwide from 2005 to 2014. In the same 10 years, including suicides, some 310,000 Americans died from guns.
The central issue in this tragedy is guns, but the gun lobby will vehemently state, as always that “this is not a time for politics.”
Gun control has always proven to be the nemesis of the American government, with the NRA (Notable Resistance Always) blocking every reasonable step.
Lives that matter are being lost, while America’s gun battle rages. Instead of the pugilistic display and animosity against each other, if the various sides can be less ideological and more driven by evidence that works, then thousands of lives can be saved. The left must drop the bigotry and duplicity, and the right can drop the obstructionism.
It is too soon to ascertain what if anything could have prevented this tragedy, and perhaps nothing could have either.
But if America cannot learn and has not learned from this recent carnage, then sadly she will have to continue mourning, for there will be more such shootings.
More action equals less mourning.