By Adam Schwartz
There is a plain and simple fact about America: we love our guns. In fact, we love them more than any other country in the world. By one estimation from the Small Arms Survey, America owns almost half of all civilian guns in the entire world. With this sort of statistic, it is not that surprising that America has the most mass shootings in the world as well.
What is surprising is how pathetic of a response America has had to every single mass shooting in our
history. When 13 people died in Columbine, 32 in Virginia Tech, 50 in Orlando and now 58 in Las Vegas, what has been America’s response?
Nothing. We put on our faces and say how much of a “tragedy” it is, we give our sympathy for the victims and then we return to business as usual.
Frankly, this repeat of the same cycle every single time is sickening. We have U.S. citizens killed but don’t do anything about it. Oh sure, we are all in favor of helping the victims, but what about the next victims? What about the next innocent man, woman or child senselessly killed by another “isolated” event? Of course, the common-sense solution would be some sort of gun restrictions, but America apparently isn’t mature enough to have sensible gun laws to save lives.
The classic argument is that there is no evidence that gun laws work. If you believe the NRA and many of its members, there seems to be no correlation between gun ownership and gun violence, but that is simply not the case. The United Kingdom established some of the strictest gun laws in the world in 1996 and have since had one mass shooting. Australia as well had one of the largest mass shootings of all time in 1996 and, like the United Kingdom, enacted some of the strictest gun laws as well. Since their gun laws have been implemented, there have been zero mass shootings in over 20 years, and in both countries, gun violence has decreased dramatically.
Now many say that those are foreign countries with foreign issues, and that we need real, rigorous studies on gun laws in America. And I would be in full support of this. That is, if it were possible.
You see, we also had a dramatic gun change in 1996. Ours was the passage of the so-called “Dickey Amendment” which was an amendment added to a government spending bill that stipulated, “…none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” That’s right, if the government agency tasked with researching ways to keep us safe wants to research guns as a possible factor they are barred from doing so.
If we as Americans really did care about gun violence outside of just saying that they are in our prayers, we need to at the very least allow for fair research to be conducted to definitively say if gun violence is possibly preventable in America. Until then, the sad post-tragedy circle will continue forever.