In the wake of a devastating 24 hours for our country, with mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, leaving at least 31 people dead, gun control is again at the forefront of the national conversation.
It feels like nowhere is safe in this country- not concerts, restaurants, movie theaters, schools or Walmarts. In fact, as of Wednesday, Aug., 7 the Global Human Rights Movement issued a travel warning for the U.S. due to the rampant gun violence that is ravaging the “greatest country in the world.”
Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA said in a statement:
“Travelers to the United States should remain cautious that the country does not adequately protect people’s right to be safe, regardless of who they might be. People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm – a guarantee of not being shot is impossible.”
“Once again, it is chillingly clear that the U.S. government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”
But despite the immense number of lives lost to gun violence and the mounting calls for politicians to reduce the accessibility of semi-automatic weapons by enacting common-sense gun reform, little has changed over the years. Not even when the parents of Sandy Hook victims testified before Congress.
It becomes a sort of wash rinse repeat: The mass-shooting occurs, Republicans tweet their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ families, and things proceed– more or less– as before.
Especially when the shooter is white…
Even after the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the conversation turned not into a debate to those suffering from mental health issues having access to guns but to our culture of rampant gun violence being fueled by video games.
In a statement shortly after the shooting, Trump specifically said,
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”
Anyone would contend that Trump and his cronies are geniuses. But surely they know that video games are not the real problem. Rather, most likely, they are an excuse and a scapegoat so that they can continue to profit off of NRA donations and power.
— Daniel León (@LuisDanielLeon) August 3, 2019
Additionally, NBC News ran a fact check on Trump and his theory that dates back to 2012 that violent video games are to blame for mass shootings. Four separate studies released in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019 all failed to find evidence that video games spurred violence. In these studies, researchers even noticed signs that crime may be reduced by violent games.
Also, it is clear that the United States is not the only country that has an affinity for video games; not even close. According to Newzoo’s 2019 Global Games Report, the United States is projected to bring in $36,869M in-game revenue. Followed closely behind is China with a revenue (in U.S. dollars) of $36,540M. Next is Japan at $18,952M.
Yet the U.S. is the only wealthy country in the world where mass shootings are a common occurrence. So, if other countries have violent video games but few to no mass shootings, what could be the reason behind this? What does the U.S. have that other countries don’t?
The answer is simple: guns and a lot of them.
China and Japan were not in the top ten in gun homicides in 2010 or 2016. Most guns are illegal in Japan and China has taken measures such as banning certain guns after rare shootings (Council on Foreign Relations). The next highest country in a number of mass shootings so far this year in Mexico… with three.
The El Paso shooting also highlights the ever-growing empowerment of individuals embracing white supremacy, following the election of Donald Trump. The shooter confirmed to investigators that he had set out to murder Latinx individuals as possible, selecting the store only five miles from the U.S.- Mexico border.
— FierceWarriorNStilettos (@InactionNever) August 8, 2019
This is not a case of mental illness. It is a hate crime, white nationalism, domestic terrorism. All of the above.
Even the white supremacist-in-chief decried the ideology. In a public address Monday, he asserted,
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy…Hate has no place in America.”
He also voiced support for “red flag” laws in states, which allow the police to confiscate guns from individuals deemed by a judge to pose an imminent threat to themselves or to others.
Fifteen states, along with D.C., already have some form of these laws, also known as “extreme protection orders,” and support for this legislation is picking up among members of the G.O.P. in Congress following Trump’s address.
In the wake of Trump’s address, Senate Majority Leader and all-around evil dude Mitch McConnell also suggested several chair members host bipartisan meetings, discussing red flag laws and other solutions. Hopefully, this includes background checks, which are supported by a majority of the American public.
We need these bipartisan efforts in order to continue making meaningful reform. This includes both sides of the aisle admitting to the gaps in their arguments in the gun control debate.
A recent Politico article highlighted the connective, social power of guns that Democrats and gun control advocates might not take into account. The authors argue that people who support gun rights are not card-carrying NRA members, but people who grew up in a social context were gun ownership was the norm and where guns are “social assets,” ways to meet people, forge bonds and give their lives meaning.
Still, in our increasingly fragmented society and political life, we need allyship more than ever.