30 mass shootings, 18 school shootings in 2018 alone – courtesy of the NRA and its puppet, Donald Trump

Published: February 20, 2018
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Mourners stand during a candlelight vigil for the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 15, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Mourners stand during a candlelight vigil for the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 15, 2018. PHOTO: AFP A student protester chants at a rally calling for more gun control three days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, February 17, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

The recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida in the United States brought forth another round of debates and blames. The parents blamed the school for not taking pre-emptive actions towards a student that showed signs of violence. The school blamed the local law enforcement agencies for not doing enough to provide security and not following up on the tip they received. The local law enforcement agencies complained of having their hands tied up due to federal policies.

Collectively though, the community as a whole came together to blame the National Rifle Association (NRA) for pushing lax gun regulations.

It is frightening that the most developed country in the world has been the victim of 30 mass shootings since the year began. And with the Florida shooting, the count for school shootings alone is now 18.

In all honesty, there is blame to be spread all around. The school authorities had identified the student Nikolas Cruz as a risk and had expelled him over behavioural concerns. This being the United States, there is ample law and order on the streets and local authorities have enough visibility in their residents to make informed decisions. The federal government also holds some responsibility given that they implemented lax gun control allowing almost anybody to own and operate a gun.

In most of these shooting cases, be it Florida, Texas or Las Vegas, the blame usually falls on the gun lobby in the US. This lobby is mostly funded by the NRA. It has about five million members and is one of the largest contributors to the American electoral candidates. That is just a small fraction of the overall American population but its members are passionate, vocal and lobby hard for their cause, namely gun ownership, and are not afraid to put their money where their mouth is.

Digging deeper into the politics of the NRA, the organisation spent over $30 million in favour of Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton during his presidential election campaign in 2016. They have spent more than $135 million in the prior two decades on lobbying on gun ownership rights through campaign contributions and promoting studies that minimise the impact of gun ownership. In the same period, gun advocacy groups only managed to spend $19 million dollars. What’s even more disturbing is that the shooting could also be attributed directly to the removal of Barack Obama-initiated gun regulation by Trump that made it easier for people with mental illness to buy guns. The Trump budget has also suggested the cancellation of $12 million that is used to maintain a background database of gun buyers.

Historically, countries that have implemented stricter gun laws have seen a decrease in mass shootings. Australia hasn’t had mass gun shootings since 1996 when they decided to enforce stricter laws following a deadly shooting. Similarly, some European countries have a high ratio of citizens carrying arms but that involves a strict background check including mechanisms to catch possible assailants through behavioural cues.

Any time such an attack happens in the US, there is the usual blame thrown about at the end of which nothing significant really happens. Case in point, after every mass shooting, the government sweeps gun debate under the rug and proclaims that ‘now is not the time to talk about such shootings’. And this time around, they might have crossed the limit.

In return for all the funding given by the NRA, the lawmakers constantly go to bat for the NRA. The governor of the American state of Kentucky dismissed any talk of gun laws and blamed the violence propagated in music and video games as being responsible for such incidents. Trump tweeted his belief that the shooting occurred due to mental problems while completing skipping any blame attributed to the fact that the shooter was able to obtain a gun.

From a layman’s vantage point, the way to counter the current pro-gun narrative in the US requires an equal or more powerful anti-gun narrative. Take for example the recent #MeToo movement. It’s come to a point where it has become almost too powerful. The mere whiff of harassment, real or imagined, is enough to bring down entire careers. The anti-gun protestors need to come up with a catchy tag line of their own and start a movement that will pressure the government to finally take a stand.

The other thing that would benefit them is if lax gun laws bring down a politician or celebrity. That may give them the jet fuel they need to achieve their goals. The common American loves his guns and will vote for any perceived champion of his rights. Most of the pro-gun narrative coming to the fore holds the argument that if ‘American law doesn’t ban cars when they get into accidents, why ban guns?’

Parkland, FL prided itself on its ‘country elegance’. Awash in bike trails, gated communities and serenity, it has been hit where it hurts. It is a community that is aching and is vowing to upend the status quo on gun violence. It is a community that has responded to the crisis with more than just proclamations of ‘thoughts and prayers’. They have taken to the streets and are utilising social media as a weapon to raise awareness. They are organising demonstrations in various cities in the US including a march in Washington DC to highlight the perils of lax gun ownership laws. This comes in the wake of major metropolitan rallies being held in Florida demanding gun law changes with students, teachers and parents holding placards against elected officials.

With the unfortunate advent of the 24-hour news cycle, there is always the danger of voices being drowned out in the cacophony of global news events. It will take determination and resilience to keep their message alive and on point. Otherwise, communities in the US will remain a ticking time bomb before the next mass shooting takes place.

Muhammad Yamin

Muhammad Yamin

The author is a management consultant based in Toronto. He has a keen interest in international business, social enterprise development and application technology trends. He tweets @myamin325 twitter.com/myamin325

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Yousaf Haque

    The question is why the arms at all in the hands of general public who are not supposed to wage any war against anyone anywhere ??Recommend

  • Parvez

    If I am not wrong the interpretation of the Second Amendment that says ” A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, will not be infringed ” was sought and Justice Roberts Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of the gun lobby.
    Keeping the above in mind the task of the gun control lobby will be difficult if not impossible.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Too bad for the author that he refuses to mention there are probably 80 million plus gun owners in the US and THEY VOTE!Recommend

  • Patwari

    This not about the right to own guns/arms. This is about owning machine guns, assault rifles, thirty bullet magazine AR-15, sub machine guns, military grade assault weapons.
    These kind of gun ownerships have no place in a normal average society. The average
    American does not own these kind of weapons. They are abhorred.
    This assault weapon gun culture flourishes among Aryan Nations[there are many] KKK
    White Supremacists, Alt Right, Nazis and other dredges of US society.
    Could you also reference when did Justice Robert’s Supreme Court adjudicated this ruling? And what was the case about? Assault weapons ban? Was it an individual vs. State? Exact particulars please, so it can be googled.
    Thanks.Recommend

  • Patwari

    US Congress passes the laws that are effective nationwide. Not the voters.
    Voting in US is county wide ONLY. Even in presidential, governor, senatorial,
    councilmen, judgeships etc. elections, voting is county wide only. [tehsils]
    [Presidential candidates names are put in county ballots during presidential
    elections, very obviously]
    40 million California voters cannot effect anything outside California.
    A county can pass an ordinance to ban assault rifles, only in that county. And
    can put it to vote. Nothing more.
    So what 80 million voters?Recommend

  • Sane sid

    Okay….. Great initiative…… US should seriously take a Que from this Author and follow footsteps of his country where there is peace and no harmful weapons are available to the general public….. only Kalshnikovs, Rocket Launchers, Grenades and sucide VestsRecommend

  • Parvez

    Case is DC v Heller ( 2008 ) and as explained to me this ruling made matters more difficult for the gun control lobby.Recommend

  • Patwari

    And of course, elected senators, congressmen, councilmen, take campaign donations from NRA and other vested interests. Therefore they will not pass
    gun control laws. If they do, no more money for campaigns. They are out, in
    the streets, washing dishes to make living, or selling oranges in the traffic.Recommend

  • Sane sid

    Read my post above…..Recommend

  • Sane sid

    Kindly read my post above and respond……Recommend

  • Patwari

    Sorry, in your haste, you picked the wrong case. Oh well.
    Heller vs District of Columbia was not about banning military grade
    assault weapons. It was in 2008, about handguns, rifles, shotguns.
    Second Amendment allows a citizen to protect himself including self defense.with handguns, rifles and shotguns. Protecting your home.
    District of Columbia passed a law that required that rifles, shotguns, pistols
    be kept UNLOADED, UNASSEMBLED with a trigger lock in a LOCKED closet !! The law totally defeated the purpose of defending yourself !
    You could be dead by the time you unlock the closet. it was bad law.
    Nice try though.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Hmm, and why have fully automatic weapons been legal in Pakistan for so long???Recommend

  • Salman Raheel

    It’s goes beyond the gun laws or the fundamentalists running the US government. The entire fabric of the US society is in doldrums. It’s not that the school students have access to guns so they just decide to go on a shooting spree, there are a plethora of reasons behind such shootings. Lack of discipline both at homes and schools in the name of political correctness along with bullying are the factors which are conveniently looked down upon, but are more relevant to understanding these shootings then the guns laws. Then there is a matter of social media and it being the source to becoming instantly famous for all the wrong reasons. Easy access to violent content and inspirations are also an attribute of today’s internet age, which further add to the deteriorating social structures.Recommend

  • Salman Raheel

    Apparently US has more in common with India, where both the leaders have been elected on hate campaigns.Recommend

  • Patwari

    No need to.Recommend

  • Patwari

    It’s basically gibberish from Modi cyber warriors
    from across the LOC.Recommend

  • Patwari

    They are NOT legal in Pakistan. You made it up. Fake.
    Don’t change the subject. Blog is about gun control in US. The most advanced, and well educated country in the world. Not about Pakland or Hinduland.
    Otherwise are Hindustani army brigades in occupied Kashmir allowed to kill children, women, old grandmothers, girls, boys, grandfathers?!?
    Killing unarmed civilians. Those are war crimes.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Not being a lawyer I asked an American Constitutional professor to explain this in simple language….. anyway, it was good to read your comment.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I don’t know what you are getting at but if you produced credible statistics on gun related violence of both countries it might help to understand the matter better.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Really, December 6, 2017, federal cabinet just advanced a bill to ban automatic weapons in Pakistan! Recommend

  • Patwari

    If this so called “constitutional professor” referred DC vs Heller
    to you, than he does not know whit from twit. Does he has a shop
    where he teaches law?Recommend

  • Parvez

    I think you have a valid point regarding assault weapons. My contention was that the SC’s ruling in the case I mentioned did not help the gun prevention lobby and thus the publics larger interest.
    As a learning process for me, kindly explain simply why my contention was wrong .Recommend

  • Patwari

    Ossified.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Look at 22 February 2018 ET editorial (“Effective Controls”) about long availability of automatic weapons in Pakistan!Recommend

  • Parvez