US Mass Shootings

Referring to shocking and striking statistics, US mass shootings are put into perspective against a historical lobbyist backdrop associating the violence at home to the country’s mass killings outside.

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Still on screen: One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.

Narration: October 1, 2015. Another mass murder episode in the US …This time in Oregon ... This time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg … the 45th school shooting in 2015 and the 206th mass shooting of the year.

SOUNDBITE [English] Police officer: “The victims are Lucero Alcaraz of Roseburg; 19 years old. Quinn Glen Cooper of Roseburg, 18 years old.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Police officer: “We are shocked this has happened. Quinn was only 18 years old. He has just graduated from Roseburg High School in June. Yesterdays was his fourth day in college. Quinn was funny, sweet, compassionate and such a wonderful loving person.”

Narration: Shocking news … But who in America is really surprised to see such murderous headlines anymore?

SOUNDBITE [English] Barack Obama, US President: “We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few month. Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this.”

Narration: Over the course of his presidency, Mr. Obama has spoken publicly or issued a statement in the wake of 15 mass shootings. But the deaths in Oregon were the 994th mass shooting of his second term alone, since November 2012.

An endless list of stats and graphs on US gun violence reveals just how routine mass shootings and other firearm incidents are in a country with nearly as many guns as people.

In this year, there have been 279 mass shootings, defined as an incident in which four or more people are killed or injured by gun –as of October 27; more than one per day. Over the same period, there have been 45 shootings at schools. But beneath the steady drumbeat of these high-profile cases lie the hundreds of daily mass shootings that many never hear about. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 10,781 people have been killed by firearms so far this year and more than 21,933 have been injured.

The latest mass shooting at an Oregon college has reignited calls for tighter gun laws and conjured up the old argument over repealing the Second Amendment, according to which “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.” But it seems that most Americans are not sufficiently politically organized around this issue to out-lobby the minority who are mostly in the form of the National Rifle Association (NRA), a rather fanatical minority who define freedom as, first and foremost, the right to have a firearm.

SOUNDBITE [English] Wayne Lapierre, NRA’s Executive Director: “As you know, our right has been under attack for years. the politicians who are supposed to be leading this country are doing everything they can to take away our freedom, especially the right to protect ourselves and our families. Their tireless campaign to do away with our Second Amendment is never ending and that’s why now more than ever someone needs to stand up to the politicians and that someone is NRA. You’ll help NRA stand and fight every politician who wants to take away your gun and your freedom.”

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Narration: Gun lovers, gun manufacturers, gun dealers, and their biggest political machine-the NRA- are nearly unstoppable as long as the Americans fail to abolish the Second Amendment. However, the Supreme Court has interpreted that amendment to the satisfaction of the NRA and to the endless detriment of school children and shoppers, college students and innocent bystanders, distraught teens and crime victims. Isn’t this somehow a corruption of the democratic process? Shouldn’t that process demand that, in matters of national security, the safety of the vast majority should prevail? The U.S. seems not to be a democracy of individual citizens, but rather one of competing interest groups. If history is an instructor, the Oregon massacre will only boost membership in the NRA and increase the number of citizens walking around with guns.

America, while sticking out its chest at how great it is, lags behind the world in many key areas. Gun control is certainly one of those areas.

So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country. According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the Revolutionary War to Iraq.

That’s while the US spends more than a trillion dollars per year on what it claims to be defending itself against terrorism, which kills a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by ordinary gun crime.

According to figures from the US Department of Justice and Council on Foreign Affairs, 11,385 people died on average annually in firearm incidents in the US between 2001 and 2011. In the same period, an average of 517 people were killed annually in terror-related incidents.

Charleston, Lafayette, Virginia, Now, Roseburg, Oregon. Eleven wounded in a Georgia barroom. Six shot outside a Tulsa nightclub. A pregnant mom and grandmother killed, an infant wounded in Chicago. America has gone no more than eight days without one of these incidents this year. Nearly 10,000 people were killed and 20,000 wounded in nearly 40,000 gun violence incidents so far this year. These numbers only tell the smallest part of the story. And these very numbers will need to be updated again tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.

After Umpqua, Obama decried the routines of mass killings but his cries for a tweaking of gun control will not stop the killings. Elementary school children and church worshippers are slaughtered, as well as college students and others, yet these are not weird occurrences. They are the consequential outcome of what American society, or more correctly the 1%, does to its citizens. Two days after Obama by DNS-Unlocker"> expressed his despair, frustration and anger over the Oregon mass shootings, a US air strike hit a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. According to numerous news reports, at least 19 people were killed, including 12 members of Doctors without Borders, and another 37 wounded. What Obama didn’t and couldn’t say is that the daily bloodshed in his drone mass killings of Iraqis, Yemenis, Afghans, and others sets the frame of mind for violence at home. The U.S. was founded upon violence and is drenched in blood whether in regard to Native Americans, Blacks or other countries. And now, the chickens have come home to roost. What goes around comes around.  

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