There is now a chance for America after yet another mass shooting. Since Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple who killed 14 and injured 17 in San Bernardino, California, seem to be linked to terrorism, the president of the United States should be able to ban the sale of firearms to private citizens. This presidential executive order should be justified as a matter of security for the United States and its citizens. And since we do not know how many potential terrorists are among the gun owners of America, the ban on selling the guns should be followed by another presidential order: the sequester of all guns owned by private citizens in this country.
I have no idea if this could work – if this is legally doable. All I know is that the Australian government did something similar, and it’s working for them. Besides, this suggestion is no more ridiculous than the vague proposals that are currently circulating about a law that would introduce more strict background checks for those purchasing guns. It has been said that this new law – if only Congress would accept it – would stop the carnage in this country. Carnage that now, when it happens on American soil, is described with a phrase that is new to the American vocabulary: “mass shootings.”
Since, according to FBI reports, the married killers were plausibly homegrown radicalized terrorists who bought their arsenal legally on the American gun market, my proposal is more than reasonable. However, I do not think that my idea will pass. So let me rant a bit further.
Let’s start from the very top. The other day,Politico listed all the speeches that President Obama has made every time there was a major shooting in America. And this rhetoric in place of action is part of what makes these mass shootings scarier. The use of guns in America is outrageous and vile. Every time it happens, it terrifies me. It is insane. But it is not just the insanity of the people who take up guns and kill, it is the insanity of a society that lets it happen. Day after day, again and again. To me, it is not important whether the the killer used an assault gun, a military rifle, an automatic or a semi-automatic. I do not care how fast the gun shoots. What counts here is that guns are killing – slow or fast, it doesn’t matter. They take people’s lives.
There are 300 million pieces of weaponry freely circulating in the U.S. Enough for the whole nation to commit suicide or be killed in an instant. Just one shot by each American citizen would be enough to recall the next presidential elections. There would be no more need for them. There is no need for a nuclear bomb to destroy this country – guns are working just fine. And yet the president, according to Politico’s record, has been unable to do anything but make speeches. The only thing that the most powerful man on Earth could do was talk? He made 16 speeches. I remember that the president, almost in tears, once said that he no longer knew what to say, that he was running out of words of grief and anger for the message that he has had to relay to the nation every time these murders happens.
Were there really only 16 mass slaughters in the last seven years for which the president of the U.S. has appeared on TV, trying to sooth the nation? According to official data, there were not more than that. And there have been four mass shootings in the U.S. in this year alone. This is a lot, right? But what if the actual shootings in which a group of people were killed outnumbered the official count this year? According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of “mass shootings” this year in the U.S. was not not four, but 353:
One commonly cited database, run by Mother Jones magazine, says there have been four mass shootings in America this year.
Those four incidents occurred at a church in Charleston, S.C. (nine victims killed); a military recruitment center in Chattanooga, Tenn. (five victims killed); a community college in Roseburg, Ore. (nine victims killed); and now at a holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday (14 victims killed).
But another commonly cited source for mass shootings, the crowd-sourced Mass Shooting Tracker database, said that as of Friday there had been 353 mass shootings in the U.S. this year.
That would mean we’re averaging more than one mass shooting a day.
Here’s the difference: Mother Jones counts a mass shooting as any incident in which a lone gunman kills at least four people in a public place, while also excluding gang violence.
But the Mass Shooting Tracker — which is built by members of the social-sharing site Reddit, and which uses news reports as sources — defines a mass shooting as any incident, anywhere, in which at least four people are shot, but not necessarily killed.
So which one is it? There must be at least four deaths for an incident to qualify as a “mass shooting.” But what does it mean in a shooting where there are 17 injured and only three dead? Does this not count as a mass shooting?
It’s relatively trivial debates like this that the public uses to distract itself from its moral hangover. We saw this happen again when public outrage turned against 46 senators who, after the massacre at Sandy Hook two years ago, voted against a bill that would have introduced universal background checks on gun purchases. Medium published their names, but more than that, it published the sums of money that the senators received from the gun industry. How could those gentlemen vote for the law if they had already been corrupted buy the gun industry lobbyists? If this had happened on the other side of the Atlantic, those senators would most likely be in a prison today. Not because they voted against a law that would have given people some protection, but because they took money from lobbyists.
But let me end on a more positive note. Yesterday, on the front page of the New York Times’ printed edition, was a request to “End the Gun Epidemic in America.” I like the idea that the possession of a gun is a sort of disease. Like SARS, perhaps. The New York Times editors made a bold gesture in putting this kind of request on their front page in a country where one of the most desired Christmas presents is a shotgun. But no matter what, the editors of the the paper are heading in the right direction, and to be honest, this time the president is not far behind.