Making Money Off Death
The US has a homicide rate that is 25 times higher than other industrial nations with 10,000 Americans likely be killed in gun murders this year. An additional 20,000 will likely die to gun suicide and the total number of gun deaths and violent injuries will be close to 100,000 this year. Every time there is a mass shooting, gun sales go up as people rush to the store to buy weapons they think will help keep them safer in the future. Every time there is a mass shooting, conservative politicians say that “this is not the time to talk about gun control.” If not now, when? And why is the gun lobby allowed to continue having influence, when they literally are making money off of death? This is not a political issue, it is a safety issue in our country: mass shootings, domestic violence, suicide, police violence and accidents.
The same week that the Las Vegas massacre took place, the biggest single shooter massacre in US history, a bill is also looking to pass in the House to remove long standing restrictions on gun silencers. Currently citizens must to pay a tax, register their fingerprints and go through a long process to buy gun silencers. This bill aims to deregulate all of this even though the only reason concert goers knew to flee the Las Vegas concert was because they could hear the gunshots (the shooter did not have a gun silencer). Another measure set to go through Congress this week would lawfully allow the carry of weapons across state lines that don’t allow them.
One of the arguments for why gun control is “impossible” in America is because of the 2nd amendment, and Americans’ attachment to their weapons. However Australia, another one of the most seriously gun loving countries in the world, defied this theory.
In 1996 a gunman opened fire in Port Arthur, Tasmania. Soon after, Australia’s conservative government agreed upon a bipartisan deal for strict gun control measures known as the National Firearms Agreement. The Agreement was based on evidence and research and included uniform laws based on system licensing (background checks on every gun sale, requiring registration of firearms, and banning civilian possession of military and non-military style assault weapons). With the implementation of these regulations, the government issued a “buyback” program of these weapons from civilians, and about a million of these assault weapons were removed from civilian homes.
Prior to the Port Arthur shooting there had been about one mass shooting in Australia a year. There has not been another mass shooting in Australia since.
So why isn’t the US following Australia’s example?
Trump is supporting the current project by the gun lobby to deregulate gun silencers as a way to supplement the gun sales in the country. Gun sales are low right now because of his presidency: during the Obama presidency citizens were worried that Obama might “take their guns away.” Since gun owners are not really worried that Trump will take their guns, they are not stockpiling weapons as much. However, after a mass shooting like Las Vegas, gun sales increase again.
What kind of leadership prioritizes weapons lobbyists over public safety? The documentary Making a Killing details gun violence in the US and the gun lobbying efforts of the NRA.
Additionally, a constant weapons supply is required for the American police force and Immigration and Border Patrol as they request military grade equipment to “keep America safe” on its own land.
The US also makes great money abroad in the weapons trade (Read Military Intervention is Modern Day Colonialism for more). International gun sales are being pushed right now to make up for the fact that domestic guns sales are down with Trump’s presidency. International gun exports are currently being loosened with responsibility being shifted from the State Department (which looks at human rights components of the issue) to the Commerce Department (which is supposed to promote products). Restrictions on fighter planes and bombs are also being loosened (like those used by Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen).
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