A couple of weeks ago, 50 people were slaughtered in Las Vegas. 500 more were injured. It was one of the worst tragedies that the US has seen in decades. The public outcry must be massive! Or not.

A couple of days after the event, America was profoundly concerned with President Trump’s latest cabinet drama. News stories following up on the Vegas shooting were scant. Why is it so easy for Americans to forget about the most violent mass shooting in modern history? What the heck is wrong with America?

The media is at the root of a lot of this apathy. It’s hard to focus on gun regulation when “Donald and Melania Trump reportedly compared life in the White House to being in a Venezuelan jail” is emblazoned across the headlines instead of “Why isn’t your senator making sure that nobody shoots up your kid’s school?” But, the media is only a symptom of a bigger problem in the US.

The Las Vegas Shooting Was Just Another Normal Day in America

In the USA, violence is normal. Death by shooting is a common occurrence. When 12,000 people die to firearms every year, what’s 50 more? The rest of America killed almost as many people as the Vegas shooter did within 24 hours of his atrocity.Yeah, it’s that bad. On average, 32 people are killed by guns every day in the USA. That’s 25 times more than any other first world country. It’s safe to say that this country has a problem with guns.

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The US gun homicide rate (blue) surpasses every other country by a long shot.

So What’s Being Done?

Nothing, really. The House of Representatives wrote up a bill banning bump stocks that will probably sit in limbo until everyone’s forgotten about it next month. Don’t take my word for it though. Take Paul Ryan’s word! Or lack thereof.

When asked why his political party reduced restrictions on the mentally ill acquiring firearms, he pointedly ignored the question. Politicians like Ryan don’t have any real interest in gun regulation. Why would they? The NRA lined Republican pockets with a tidy $3.2 million this year.

“Gee, that’s pretty messed up. Isn’t that straight up bribery?” — Timmy, Concerned Citizen

Yes, it is, Timmy; but we call it lobbying in 2017, and lobbying is legal! Even though 70% of Americans think it shouldn’t be — which is considered a majority in a democracy, last time I checked — lobbying is legal. Oh well, it’s not like politicians care about the majority. They didn’t bother listening to the public the last time we demanded gun regulation.

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Congress Passed Zero Gun Regulations After Sandy Hook

The Sandy Hook Elementary shooting was, arguably, the most horrifying mass shooting in the past century. A gunman shot and killed 20 elementary school students, six teachers, and his own mother. That should never have happened, but it did.

I wish I could sit here and write about all the gun safety legislation that the US government implemented after watching twenty children die. I can’t write that because it didn’t happen. Congress passed zero legislation on firearms after Sandy Hook. In fact, they haven’t passed much firearm legislation at all for a decade.

In spite of the astounding death toll, gun regulation has made very little progress in the past decade. It’s been nearly a decade since any significant changes have been made to firearm regulation. Whenever a mass shooting occurs, Congress “introduces” a bunch of new legislation to keep people placated…then that legislation is slowly forgotten and trashed. After Sandy Hook, Congress “introduced” an assault weapons ban. Six months later, it quietly failed to pass through the Senate and was forgotten.

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I’m willing to bet that the same fate awaits the latest gun control legislation that Congress “introduced.” The Republican-controlled Congress isn’t big on gun control, not with the NRA raining a golden shower on them. Even if Congress did pass gun regulation though, would it really help? People have the right to protect themselves, don’t they? I mean, if everyone has guns, nobody would dare shoot up a school, right?

Wrong.

Australia Has Had Zero Mass Shootings Since They Tightened Gun Laws

Twenty years ago, a gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania. After an enormous public outcry, the Australian Government laid down massive restrictions on the purchase of firearms. They outlawed assault rifles. Pump action shotguns became illegal. The government implemented waiting periods for firearm purchases. Background checks became mandatory. The shootings stopped.

The numbers speak for themselves. Firearm-related deaths dropped by 80% in Australia as of 2010. That’s Australia, though — would stringent gun regulations have prevented the Las Vegas Massacre? There’s no way to be 100% sure. However, we can look at some facts.

  1. The Vegas Shooter’s acquired most of his weapons legally.
  2. Assault weapons, like those found in the shooter’s possession, would be illegal under Australia’s regulations.

Gun regulations may not have stopped the shooting. However, Australia’s regulations would have stopped the Vegas shooter from purchasing most of the firearms he used. The Las Vegas shooting would have been less tragic if the killer was only armed with pistols instead of assault rifles. Maybe a concerned and armed citizen might have even been able to stop him! You know, as long as that concerned citizen isn’t black.

The Unfortunate Relevance of Race and Drugs in 1981’s CLOAK AND DAGGER

Whoah Dude, Why Are You Bringing Race Into This?

Because the NRA is quite racist. High profile members of their organization, including talk show hosts on NRATV and media spokespersons (AKA the very face of the organization), have dropped less-than-subtle comments about African Americans.

Okay! Party’s over. Let’s get busy scrubbing Obama’s mocacchino stain off of America!

– Chuck Holton, Show Host on NRATV

Then there’s their recruitment video, where they portray an unnamed human-rights organization and unnamed ex-president as villains.

Gosh, I wonder who they’re talking about. That video isn’t even the worst of it. ThinkProgress put together a more in-depth analysis of the NRA’s racist narratives. From their poignant summary:

“The world described by NRATV, in other words, looks very much like the world white nationalists in Charlottesville must have imagined when they marched through the streets chanting “you will not replace us.” It is a world where conservative America is fading and weak. Where barbarians lurk just beyond the gate. And where the only tactic you have left may be violence. – Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress

Gun culture in America has an ugly relationship with racism. White killers are “mentally ill,” while non-whites are “violent criminals.” African Americans die to gunfire in disproportionate numbers compared to Caucasians. Police related deaths exhibit this most. Both armed and unarmed African Americans make up a staggering percentage of victims of police brutality.

Addressing Racial Trauma in BLACK

Police Killings

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You can’t talk about gun control without talking about its ugly stepsibling, police homicide. Well, America doesn’t like calling it a homicide, but I have a hard time calling 963 deaths in one year anything else. The police shot and killed 963 US citizens — over 1500% more police homicides than the next first world country, Australia.

There is no reasonable explanation for that. Nearly 1,000 people killed by law enforcement is a travesty. The harsh truth is that US police officers are poorly trained. Instead of de-escalating conflicts, they shoot first and ask questions later. Instead of treating citizens of the USA with respect, they beat them, strangle them, and abuse them for ‘resisting.’ Or for not resisting. The police don’t seem to need much of an excuse to shoot and kill US citizens.

Police violence is an animal all on its own. A big part of that animal — fatal shootings — comes from a bigger problem that plagues the US. That problem is our guns.

Gun Culture

America has a problem. It has a problem with lack of regulation on assault weapons. America has a problem with sickening numbers of unarmed civilians dying at the hands of law enforcement every year. This country has a problem with mentally unstable individuals going on armed rampages. These are all symptoms though of America’s most prominent problem.

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What Could Go Wrong?

The USA loves guns too much. We glorify weapons. More disturbingly, we glorify killing. Law enforcement is taught to shoot first and ask questions later. The US has perpetually been at war with the world since its inception. Our current president cheerfully threatens to wipe out other countries. The USA loves and glorifies violence. This is never more apparent than when second amendment advocates defend their rights.

The Right To Bear Arms

Perhaps the most common argument against gun regulation is a person’s right to defend themselves. An American citizen with a concealed carry can protect himself from being mugged in dark alley. A small business owner with a gun under the counter can defend his livelihood from a thief.

Maybe an armed American could even prevent a mass shooting by taking out the gunman before they can hurt anyone else. There’s no shortage of heroic stories about armed Americans saving lives.

Those heroic stories all have a common thread. The featured heroes all held concealed carry permits and wielded small sidearms. Assault weapons were neither involved or necessary. A straightforward conclusion emerges from those stories. Assault weapons in the hands of civilians do far more harm than good. They are weapons of war — not weapons of protection. Nobody but the military should have access to such excessively destructive firepower.

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.

The majority of Americans support gun ownership. Australia didn’t make all guns illegal — just the ridiculously dangerous ones. There is no war on the second amendment. There’s a war on dangerous people getting their hands on unnecessarily dangerous weaponry.

The right to bear arms is the highest legal right in the US — a constitutional right. There is no disputing the fact that Americans have the right to own weapons legally. But maybe ordinary Americans don’t need semi-automatic assault rifles with bump-stocks. They can protect themselves from a mugging just fine with a 9mm pistol.

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We, The People, Cannot Treat Gun Violence As Acceptable

Gun violence is routine in America. Until we change that, mass shootings will continue to happen every year. Until we change our creepy obsession with firearms, the deaths will continue. America loves guns too much. That love is leaving thousands dead every year. It’s time that we sat down and faced the consequences of our abusive relationship with firearms.

Normal citizens do not need access to military grade weaponry. Normal police officers do not need access to military grade firepower. The second amendment ensures that Americans have the right to protect themselves. It does not give Americans the power to injure or kill five hundred people in a single night. It is high time that Americans look up from polishing their gun collection, and take a long and hard look at the blood running through our streets.

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