Within a span of less than 24 hours, from Saturday onto Sunday last weekend in the U.S., at least 32 were killed in two separate mass shootings in El Paso, Texas (22) and in Dayton, Ohio (10).
This latest incidence of gun violence follows yet another from just a week earlier when three were gunned down in Gilroy, California during its annual Garlic Festival.
All are classified as mass shootings and are being investigated as ‘ domestic terrorism’ which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has claimed to be on the rise from last year. Automatic assault weapons, mostly military style and variants thereof , were used by the perpetrators, as in most fatal occurrences.
Mass shootings, loosely defined for use in media reportage, are deemed to be incidents of firearm-related violence that involve multiple victims, three or four, aside from the perpetrator often acting alone, within the same time frame and vicinity.
These recent fatal incidences have already broken the 250th mark for the year 2019 alone, in a country which has more than 265,000,000 guns in private possession, and whose Congress have failed, repeatedly, to pass legislation on gun control and on banning assault weapons and ammunitions, in one form or any other, despite bipartisan hue and cry.
We are still stunned and shaken when we recall Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children and 6 staff were gunned down on December 14, 2012, and just after the killer had shot his own mother. And what about the Orlando, Florida Gay Bar shooting on June 12, 2016 with 50 killed and more than 55 injured? Followed by the Las Vegas strip shooting spree from a 32nd Floor hotel window. 58 were killed and more than 420 injured on October 1, 2017, making it the historical world record of the deadliest mass shooting.. And the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Synagogue murder of 11 worshippers during Shabbat morning services in Oct 27, less than a year ago.
It has become only too apparent that accessibility to possession of firearms and its connection to the frequency of mass shootings have indeed become a distinctly American phenomenon.
Former President Obama who has heretofore kept his dignity of silence, avoiding public commentaries in Trumpian times, was finally moved by the twin incidents of El Paso and Daytona to speak: “ No other nation on earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings……..No other nation tolerates the level of gun violence….” And in a rebuke of the powers that control Congress, he adds: “Everytime this happens, we are told that tougher gun legislations won’t stop all murders…… evidence shows that they can stop some killings….. Until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”
It is an indisputable fact that nations with sensibly effective gun possession and control legislation experience no such mass shootings at all or very significantly, much less such violent occurrences. Japan, Australia, the UK, Germany, Canada easily come to mind . And even Norway which ranks #10 in gun ownership worldwide.
It is also an undisputed fact that these countries are not held ‘under the gun’ (pun intended) by the likes of the world’s most powerful and influential Congressional lobbyist, the National Rifle Association (NRA). And nobody disputes the very evident NRA connection with and its stranglehold over, the Republican Party.
The sad advent of the twin mass shootings have brought about a new perspective, a different twist to the serial bloodletting besetting American society. For the first time, there is a direct mention and involvement of a sitting American President.
Inevitably , Trump the Donald is cited because of his consistent and long hateful and racist rhetoric. Indeed, he has an indelible record of fomenting antipathy towards immigrants and people of color, as well as an established reputation of racial discrimination in his past business operations.
Reasonably referenced by concerned critics are his consistent use of words such as ‘invasion,’ ‘infestation,’ “go back,” and jokes about shooting, all aimed at immigrants mostly Hispanics and Latinos. Memorably accusing a judge of Latino ancestry (overseeing a fraud case against Trump) of being unfair and biased because he is Mexican! He has ranted: “They are bringing drugs!” “They are rapists.”
Inevitably, such rhetoric spoken to incorrigibly troubled minds who embrace racist ideology make it prone to prodding violent acts intended to preserve white supremacy. Undeniably, America still teems with active white supremacists and they do make up much of Trump’s Republican base. Happily, the malady is dwindling albeit glacially.
Investigation of the El Paso mass shooting revealed that some twenty minutes immediately before the gunfire, there was posted an online an anti-immigrant manifesto decrying the “Hispanic Invasion of Texas!” Authorities believe the online screed is linked to the gunman.
Following this recent gore, late-night television parody/satire comedy commentaries, noted American staple of public discourse, were in unison devoting serious sentiments assailing Trump’s rhetoric and Republican obstruction of sensible gun control legislation.
Will this recent carnage by gun violence have an effect on American politics and society as well as on desirable gun control legislation? Wishful thinking, once again? That really remains to be seen. Hopefully so, however, what with the new ingredient of the very President’s rhetoric “fanning the flames white supremacy.”
Republican (GOP) talking heads and sitting politicians are unabashedly making the lame claim that the internet and videogames are to blame, without ever mentioning guns! I say, rather stupidly! By their remarks, they unmask themselves to be blind to the reality that the internet is universally used in politically engaged nations that do not suffer from mass shootings. And most notably, Japan where video gaming is a major industry and where gun-related killings are indeed very rare because of strict laws and a low rate of gun ownership.
There now appears what seems to be a conclusive consensus that sensible gun laws will only dawn upon the American scene when Trump is no longer President, and when both the House and the Senate are no longer under the clutches of the National Rifle Association.
The issue of domestic safety will mostly probably loom large in the debates that will usher in the U.S. elections in 2020. Upon the outcome of this elections hangs the fate of sensible gun control legislation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.
In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.
During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.
After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.
He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.