Today President Obama stepped before the microphones for the 20th time since he assumed the presidency to deplore a mass shooting, this time in Orlando, Florida. No other industrialized country has the number of mass shootings that we do, or for than matter, a murder rate that comes close to ours. Why?
Other industrialized countries have more potential mass shooters than the USA does, but they have less success in carrying out their acts. Almost any country in Western Europe has a much higher percentage of radicals who would like to kill large numbers of people than the USA does, but they have less success in carrying out their desires. Large numbers of Western Europeans, thousands, have traveled to ISIS or al-Queada controlled regions and returned. Some of them have managed to wreck havoc in countries such as Belgium and France, but despite having a much larger pool of wanna-bes, these would-be mass killers have much less success.
The reason is, of course, ease of access to tools of the trade. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, shooter Omar Mateen legally purchased the weapons he used to kill at least 50 people and would 53 more. Like millions of other Americans, he was able to legally walk into a gun shop and purchase a handgun and an AR-15 style assault rifle, a gun whose clip can hold 30 bullets and which is capable of piercing body armor. It is a gun designed specifically for killing as many people as possible in the shortest time possible.
In Western Europe, obtaining such a rifle is illegal, and obtaining one illegally is very difficult. Such firearms are available in Eastern Ukraine where a low-level war is in progress, but the guns must then be smuggled into Western Europe. Traveling there, setting up contacts, and purchasing the weapons is an expensive and time-consuming process. Once the weapons have been purchased, they must be smuggled into Western Europe with a high probability that they will be intercepted by authorities.
Just a few days ago, a Frenchman wearing a T-shirt of a right-wing group was arrested in Ukraine while trying to cross the border into Poland while carrying 21 rocket launchers, several Kalashnikov assault rifles, and 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds) of explosives. We can only speculate what would have happened if he had managed to get these weapons into France, but the point is, he did not.
Why can a potential mass murderer just walk into a gun shop in many states in the USA and buy a rifle whose only purpose is to mow down large numbers of human beings? Because a very vocal minority of Americans backed by the National Rifle Association believe that these potential killers have a constitutional right to do so. It is called “gun rights.” To these people, allowing every potential mass murderer to be armed to the teeth is a God-given right that easily outweighs the rights of other human beings to live without being shot down and killed.
When will this crazy pro-gun mentality cease? I do not know. I do know, however, that as long as so many people think that it is a good idea to have lethal weapons in the hands of millions of wackos, no sensible gun legislation will work. There is no sense in passing gun legislation until a large majority of Americans can be convinced that having so many guns around is a bad ides.
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