Rather than write with emotion in the immediate aftermath, here we are a few weeks on from another mass shooting in the United States. Isn't it enough of an eye-opener already that we say the word "another" whenever it happens? How often does it have to happen before action is taken? How many more people have to die or be injured by shootings before the United States wakes up and realises the Second Amendment needs to be seriously looked at? The facts are there for all to see, in the UK and Australia when gun laws were tightened the number of shootings dropped drastically. I understand that the USA and the UK/Australia are vastly different countries with different cultures towards guns, but the fact remains that if you remove a gun, it can't be used by anyone to shoot and kill anyone else.
1996 was the turning point for both Australia and the UK. In March 1996, Thomas Hamilton walked into a Primary School in Dunblane, Scotland to shoot and kill 16 children, a teacher and then himself. One month later, Martin Bryant entered Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia and killed 35 people in a mindless act, injuring 23 others. Both countries were so shocked by these atrocities that they took decisive action and banned guns. Since the ban, the number and frequency of massacres has reduced markedly. This month in Las Vegas, 59 people died and 546 (yes, FIVE-HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIX) people have been injured as a result of being shot by a man intent on flaunting his Second Amendment right in the most awful way. What is it going to take for Americans to change the way guns are viewed? How big does a massacre have to be in order for something to change?
I understand that Americans' relationship with guns and the culture around guns is vastly different to anything I have experienced in Great Britain or Australia, but I know enough to be outraged at the refusal to take some kind of preventative action. You see, it doesn't just affect Americans, it's not just about American citizens any more. The world has become more accessible and people from any country can be affected now. A friend and his family were in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, and in the general area of the shooting. Thankfully they had left before the shooting occurred, but what about the thousands of family members of those affected by it? I repeat, 59 dead and 546 injured?! I am sure there were plenty of Brits and Aussies in the area as well as people from all over the world, why should they have to become victims because America refuses to take a look at the Second Amendment, and people think that the Semi Automatic weapons, or weapons that fire hundreds of rounds per minute are comparable with the weapon that the Second Amendment was written for; Muskets.
One of the more understandable arguments that Americans have is that the gun ban in Australia (population of 18.3 million people in 1996, more like 24 million in 2017) wouldn't be the same scale as America, population 323 million people. There are an estimated 300 million firearms in the USA, and when Gun Control came into force in Australia the number of guns recovered was approximately 600,000. That is only 0.2% of the USA number right now, so logistically it is extremely difficult. Even more so when you take into account the US Government would need to initiate some sort of buy-back scheme, costing billions of dollars. Difficult, but not impossible.
I also understand that Americans love their guns, they've had several generations of people growing up with guns and interested in guns, and that in itself isn't a problem. There's nothing wrong with saying "I like something, don't take it away from me." There cannot be any other reason for anyone other than a hunter or the military to own a gun. The argument of protection is absolute bull when it comes to assault rifles, sniper rifles, semi automatic weapons or weapons with so-called "Bump Stocks". Weapons that you have to keep in a safe are no protection from an intruder, and if there is an intruder the likelihood is they want to steal something, not take away your life. No-one has a problem with responsible gun owners, but they're not the problem. The problem is the number of idiots who can get hold of a gun without a rigorous enough background check. And the choice of weapon, a handgun or pistol could be argued to be a protection weapon, but an AR-15?
The National Rifle Association thinks the answer to the problem is more guns. Give everyone a gun. "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Let's dissect that, shall we? Give every single American Citizen a gun. What happens if there's an armed assault by a "Bad Guy" or group of "Bad Guys" on, say, a theatre similar to Aurora in 2012? Well, every "Good Guy" has a gun now, they can all turn on the Bad Guy with the gun, right? Think about the confusion surrounding a massacre, all it takes is one Good Guy to misidentify the Bad Guy, and shoot a Good Guy instead. Suddenly, that person is now the target for all the other Good Guys with guns. And that could happen several times over in just seconds, or just once. Then the police arrive and they see a room full of people with guns. How do they know who is a good guy or a bad guy? They are trained to take out anyone with a weapon who is threatening life. Whether you're a good guy or a bad guy in this situation, you have a deadly weapon with the capacity to endanger life, and you will get taken down. Suddenly there are several possible deaths or injuries, the exact scenario the NRA think they've stopped by giving everyone a gun. In my opinion, this is ludicrous.
Like I mentioned earlier, it isn't just Americans this now affects. So does the NRA propose to give a gun to every single person that enters the United States? Why does an American have the right to "protect" themselves while walking down the Las Vegas strip, but not me or my wife if we visit there as British/Australian tourists? Is the answer to give everyone in the USA, regardless of nationality or reason for being there, a gun? Of course it isn't. But in the "Land of the Free", I do not have the freedom to protect myself from someone with a gun because I'm not from there. Think about the reasons you wouldn't arm a foreigner, and the danger they may pose and then tell me why that wouldn't apply to an American Citizen.
American Law allows for American Citizens to have a gun. Technically, in the UK and Australia, you can still have a gun, but it is highly regulated. You cannot walk into a supermarket and buy a gun, like you can in America. The licencing and background checks for firearms are very strict in the UK and Australia. I am not suggesting that Americans should have their guns taken away necessarily, however there is obviously a vast number of firearms out there in the hands of people that should not be anywhere near them. THAT is what needs regulating, THAT is what needs to change. By all means, have guns, but don't hide behind the lie of "I need it for protection". Have guns because you have an interest in them! Keep them at home! No-one outside of the military or police needs a Semi-Automatic weapon, an assault rifle or a sniper rifle.
The Second Amendment was written so that American Citizens could form a militia to fight a tyrannical government, giving them the right to bear arms. The obvious thing to point out here is that MILITIAS ARE REGULATED! Militias are an organised group of armed individuals, they are not random members of the public coming together as a gang with whatever firearms they might have. The irony is that with Donald Trump as President, such a divisive figure could lead to the formation of a militia by his opponents who view his policies as a Government intent on tyranny. I wonder if that's what it will take for America to see the absolute absurdness of saying every single person has a birth right to own a firearm. Over half a thousand people were injured and 59 people died in quarter of an hour because of one man's right to own guns this month.
The defence will be that "America was formed around a culture involving guns". So what...? Times change. Australia was an Aboriginal country for thousands of years before the white man arrived. Then Australia was colonised by convicts. Aborigines were treated abhorrently by the invading white men, and convicts settled. Lawless individuals settled, and eventually law and order was brought to the country, the white man apologised to Aboriginal leaders for the treatment of their ancestors and Australia is a beautiful country, that happened to also outlaw guns. Tell me why the United States, supposed leaders of the Free World, supposedly one of the worlds leading superpowers, why can't the USA take the same attitude to changing gun laws as they did to abolishing slavery, or changing the prohibition of alcohol? Why was it deemed proper to end the unfair treatment of slaves, but it's not even sensible to regulate the unfair risk that nearly 600 innocent people attending a music festival had their lives changed forever by one man's right to own a gun?
Maybe Alex Jones is right... if guns were banned in the USA, the militia would be formed almost immediately by the gun supporters. "1776 will rise again" he screamed on a TV appearance. America would almost certainly be in a state of Civil War, on a scale the modern world may not have seen before. How can it then be argued that these weapons are for protection? The saddest thing is that we all know that nothing is going to happen for at least 3 years. Meanwhile, the world will watch from behind a couch as massacre after massacre occurs in a beautiful country, victimising not just innocent Americans, while Trump dismisses it as Fake News. Who is going to be the one brave enough to stand up to the armed militia that will shoot unarmed people under the blanket excuse of "protection"?
Hundreds of lives have been lost to mass shootings in the United States since 2010. Hundreds of suicides caused by gunshots in the same time period. I ask the simple question; What is it going to take to end this madness?