Nearly two weeks ago, the news of a shocking attack shook the United States.
An 18-year-old gunman raided a primary school in Yuwaldi, Texas, killing 21 people, including 19 children. This came a few days after another similar case in which a racist theorist opened fire on a supermarket in Buffalo and killed 10 people. The sad truth is that such tragedies are far from uncommon in the United States. The statistics are more than alarming – since 2006 there have been an average of 30 mass shootings in the country every year. What is the reason for this?
Extremism and desire for revenge
“In order to understand why such tragedies happen, we need to be aware of the motives of the perpetrators. In the first place, these are manifestations of extremism. We saw this recently in Buffalo, New York, where the shooter was a supporter of the theory of so-called “white supremacy.” He believed that he was obliged to attack people of different skin colors, copying the attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, because it was part of his value system, “said for David.bg Prof. David Carter of the University of Michigan.
The second group of motives is a combination of mental illness and social factors. “These are the reasons for what happened in Yuwalde, Texas. Such crimes involve a wide range of circumstances, some of which can accumulate over the years, such as social rejection and revenge fantasies. They are related to acts of violence through which victims of harassment take revenge for what they have been subjected to, “said Prof. Carter.
Lack of control
“The United States is the only developed country where such mass shootings occur so often. To claim that the only reasons for this are related to things like harassment or mental illness is not serious. However, there are similar problems around the world. Obviously, there is a factor that is unique to the United States. Who is he? Easy access to weapons “, said for Vesti.bg Prof. Maria Cherni-Buzeo from the University of New Haven. She is the author of a number of studies on crime and violence in the United States.
“Let me give you a few examples: if a person from Texas wants to buy an AR-15 rifle, all he needs is a valid ID to prove that he is 18 years old. However, if this same person wants to buy a puppy, he will have to meet a number of requirements and submit many more documents. The situation is similar with driver’s licenses – to get one, every American must go through training and an exam, but when it comes to weapons, there are no such requirements. This is just absurd, “added Prof. Cherni-Buzeo.
According to the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, every American citizen has the right to buy and own a firearm. “There is no denying that easy access to such weapons contributes to the high number of mass killings, regardless of the motive. The subject is very delicate and is one of the most serious problems facing American society, “said Carter. According to him, some of the country’s residents want the Second Amendment completely repealed, while others are strongly opposed to any tightening of arms control.
The influential arms lobby
“Most Americans are in the middle – they support the right to own firearms, but they don’t mind imposing stricter rules. The problem is that the arms lobby is extremely influential. Many politicians are reluctant to stand up to him and support the tightening of gun control, fearing they will lose their posts. However, we must not forget that even the imposition of minimal restrictions would lead to a decline not only in mass shootings, but also in cases of firearms attacks in general, “said Prof. Carter.
The influence of the arms lobby in the United States is undoubtedly great. An example in this regard is the National Association of Firearms Owners, known by the acronym NRA. It was founded in 1871 by two veterans of the US Civil War as an organization that “promotes and promotes scientific rifle shooting.” More than half a century ago, the association set up its own Political Action Committee, through which it began directing money to members of Congress.
In 2020, the NRA spent a total of about $ 250 million. According to official figures, about $ 3 million each year goes to influence weapons policy. However, these are only the registered contributions to the legislators. Significant sums are spent through the Political Action Committee, which are difficult to trace.
Not everyone shares the view that the lack of strict gun control is the main reason for the mass shootings in the United States. Among them is Prof. Gary Klek from the University of Florida. Here is what he told Vesti.bg: “We need to stop focusing on weapons and focus on people. It is necessary for every person who suffers from mental health problems to receive adequate help. And one more thing – most perpetrators of such crimes want to become known, even after their deaths. In my opinion, the media should consider whether it is right to reveal the names and show photos of these criminals. ”
Professor Klek also believes that many voters in the United States who are interested in the issue of firearms are strongly opposed to tighter controls. “They simply do not believe that such measures would be effective. Others worry that if such restrictions are imposed, many people will be forced to hand over their weapons legally to the authorities. As a result, they will not be able to defend themselves if they are attacked by criminals. ”
Prof. Cherni-Buzeo, in turn, noted that the issue of firearms is closely linked to the American political system. “The main reason why a number of bills on tighter gun control cannot be passed is because they were blocked by the Senate after being approved by the House of Representatives. The problem is purely political. The House of Representatives defends the interests of the people to a much greater extent than the Senate, because in it each state is represented in proportion to its population.
In the Senate, however, there are two representatives from each state. Why is this a problem? Because it is not fair for huge states like New York (with a population of almost 20 million people) and California (with a population of almost 40 million people) to have the same number of representatives as Wyoming (less than 600,000 people live there) and North Dakota (population less than 800,000). It should be noted that most people in these small states are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment and are also members of the NRA. It is clear that they always vote for those candidates who share their views. As a result, due to the division between Republicans (most of whom oppose any reforms related to the Second Amendment) and Democrats (who in turn support these reforms) in the Senate, the chance of passing any fire control law weapons, is almost zero “, concludes Prof. Cherni-Buzeo.