Yesterday saw a tragedy take place in the United States. The 45th mass shooting of 2015, taking place at Umpqua Community College, which has now left nine dead (ten including the gunman himself) and a further seven injured.
I just want you to take a moment for that to sink in, the 45th mass shooting in under a year, in a so called civilised, first world country. Now undoubtedly the gunman had some deep psychological problem, either treated or untreated, but the fact that this sort of person had access to a powerful firearm is astounding, this is why I’m glad things are different in the UK.
Chances are that in Britain, the only time anyone will ever encounter a gun is through the television, or at a major tourist attraction such as Buckingham Palace (where they are there for ceremonial purposes more than defensive). In Britain thanks to stringent firearms legislation fewer than 2.5% of all homicides were gun/firearm related in 2011 and by 2013 there were only 30 homicides caused by gun in England and Wales with fewer still in Scotland (5 in total). Statistics also show that since 2010 the number of gun related crimes in the United Kingdom has fallen year on year, thanks in no small part to our boys and girls on the thin blue line, the figures also show that in 2014 the number of gun deaths in the UK (homicide or accidental) is 21, which is less than 0.25% of the 8512 gun death victims in the US in the first 3 quarters of 2015.
When it comes to America the use of guns is something of thorny issue with the pro gun lobby citing their constitutional right to bear arms and arguing that any new gun legislation is an erosion of their constitutional liberties (one of the many downsides to having a written constitution) and then of course the anti gun lobby citing every bit of butchery from Custer to Columbine as reason enough to tighten gun law, with a split congress and a beleaguered president caught in the middle.
As an outsider it’s easy for me to say that they need to outlaw guns in the same way that Britain and Australia have, but I don’t know if it would work for America, as the US is a country with 50 different sets of laws at the state level and then federal law trying to keep a lid on that, but it’s this sort of thing that must make President Obama’s heart glow with the knowledge that an end is in sight for him, knowing that after January 20th this sort of thing is someone else’s problem. But whoever President Obama’s replacement is they will certainly need to make headway into firearm reform its this sort of tragedy that should be the shot in the arm that America needs to wake up and see sense. In the UK after the Hungerford Massacre we got the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 making it illegal to own a semi automatic firearm, so what will America get after this its 45th gun spree of 2015.
American comedian Chris Rock said that American’s will never go for gun control, the best you could hope for is bullet control, put the price of bullets up so high that if someone winds up shot to death you know that they probably deserved it.
On that note I would like to pay my respects the victims’ families of this latest monstrosity.
*statistics courtesy of the Home Office and The White House*