Monday, August 5, 2019

Evidence for the cause of gun violence in America - It's the guns, stupid

Here is the fundamental problem facing America. We have more guns per citizen than any other country. To protect those guns, America is willing to accept the trade-off of mass shootings, and the killing of our children. Our leaders concur. McConnell blocks “common sense” gun legislation. Trump jokes about what he does not demonize. As a nation we are in a moral and social black hole and are digging it deeper with every passing day.

Trump has taken a cavalier attitude about the use of violence to “stop” immigrants. In May, Trump appeared at a Florida rally and talked about migrants coming to the southern border. Trump expressed frustration that border agents could not use weapons to deter them.

“How do you stop these people?” Trump asked. “Shoot them!” an audience member replied. Trump laughed and joked that “only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.”

Guns around the world

Judd Legum in a popular.info public post cites the relevant data on the cause of gun violence in America (https://popular.info/p/white-terrorism).

It’s the guns, stupid

Virtually every country in the world has video games, movies, and mental illness. But no country has as many guns as the United States.

At the end of 2017, there were “more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, or enough for every man, woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over.” No other country in the world has more than 71 million civilian-owned firearms, according to the 2018 Small Arms Survey.

The United States has 120 civilian weapons for every 100 people. The next highest rate is in Yemen, which has 53 civilian weapons for every 100 people. Another way to look at it: Americans “make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns.”

In the aftermath of a day with two mass shootings, Republicans were quick to blame video games. But a study of “the world’s 10 largest video game markets yields no evident, statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related killings.” Countries “where video game consumption is highest tend to be some of the safest countries in the world,” which is likely a reflection of national wealth.

A growing body of research suggests the “only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Trump, however, is determined to demonize even modest efforts at gun control. Democrats have proposed universal background checks and banning some kinds of military-style assault rifles. As the El Paso shooting was occurring, however, the Trump campaign was running a Facebook ad falsely accusing Democrats of advocating the repeal of the Second Amendment.

Shortly after news of the El Paso massacre broke, this Facebook ad was set to “inactive.”

Responsibility for white terrorism starts at the top, with President Trump and his purposely incendiary rhetoric.

Gabby Giffords has weighed in with an email message.

Families should not have to be afraid to take their kids shopping on a Saturday afternoon. Or to run errands in their neighborhoods. They should not have to be afraid to attend a local bar – or a movie, festival, concert, or block party. They should not have to fear for their lives in their classrooms or places of worship.

We can’t live like this. It has to stop.

We can’t afford to wait another day, or for another massacre to happen in our country, for lawmakers to address this. Yet the defenders of the status quo – the gun manufacturing lobby and every single politician who is paid to defend it – will tell you that horrific acts of violence like these are beyond our control.

I am telling you today that this could not be further from the truth. Every day we fail to take action, we choose this fate. Every day politicians fail to acknowledge and act on this crisis, they allow our gun violence crisis to take more lives.

She tags McConnell and the Republicans among those who are complicit, by their silence or obstruction, in this plague of gun violence.

Trump has responded to the gun violence but in a way contradicted by evidence, Trump condemns white supremacy, focuses on combating mental illness over new gun-control measures.

"Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger. Not the gun,” said Trump, who was flanked by Vice President Pence and did not take questions from reporters.

Somewhere in that I had to laugh. Those words were from the man who has been making jokes about “Shoot them.”

Trump also called for cultural changes, including stopping the “glorification of violence in our society” in video games and elsewhere.

Trump made a similar call to strengthen background checks after a mass shooting last year at a Florida school, and has since threatened to veto bills passed by House Democrats seeking to do so.

But now he’s trying to couple immigration with measures to combat gun violence.

Democrats were quick to criticize Trump on Monday for suggesting that gun laws and immigration laws should be paired.

I am afraid I must admit of my own pessimism that any of this will have a positive end. I predict that this too shall pass - as has every other mass shooting. Thoughts and prayers, coming together, a memorial, politicians’ “tsk, tsk” all are without consequence. We just wait for the next mass murder.

As MLK’s son asked: “Is this the America I want to live in?”

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