Guns. Violence. Hate. America’s emerging face. There have been 325% more mass shootings in America since the beginning of 2017 compared to the entire 16-year period from 2000-2016. As of August 8, 2019, there have been 592 mass shootings since the beginning of 2017 while the previous 16 years totaled 182 mass shootings. It goes without saying that this is a dramatic increase. 2017 was the deadliest year in terms of lives lost due to mass shootings (156 lives). 2018 holds the year for most mass shootings in one year (323), but 2019 could beat that record if the frequency of mass shootings stays the same throughout the rest of the year (238 as of August 8th).
Unacceptable and heartbreaking. Innocent lives lost including children. There are obviously reasons for the increasing frequency, and there’s many solutions.
Who to Blame
Obviously, the gunman is to blame. But there’s a whole range of others to blame, too. Heading the list is the angry Tweety-bird Donald Trump, followed by a flock of fake conservative pundits and gun companies.
Statistics show that many more shootings in the United States have occurred since Trump’s reign of terror began. He has been in office for less than 3 years, and there have been more mass shootings, during his short presidency than all previous 44 presidents combined! There has been more damage inside the US, caused by American gun owners (mostly white, too), in the past 2 1/2 years than the prior 230 years fused together. This is no coincidence.
Without guns, shootings would not happen. Of course, there are other methods to killing people, but if you want to kill a lot of people, a knife just won’t do. Of course, Trump does nothing to stop these shootings and more-or-less encourages them.
After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in February of 2018, Trump said that he would protect future students during school shootings by arming “teachers and coaches” with guns. If you want to stop something that means eliminating the cause of the problem. What other problem is solved by having more of it? Too fat? Eat more. No. I don’t think so. Drink too much? Solution: Give your friend a beer to relax! Uh. No.
Trump supports his half-baked reason for this “solution” because a football coach at the Parkland school ran at the shooter and according to Trump, “saved a lot of lives … I suspect.” It’s far from certain that if the coach was armed with a gun would have changed anything, and giving all teachers and coaches guns just in case they’re involved in a mass shooting is nuts. What if one of the teachers happens to go nuts – like if one of mine could in the future – now they’ve got a gun. Great.
Just because five teachers out of 27 were heroic enough to protect their students does not mean that all teachers in all schools should have guns, even if they have training. There is a likely chance that at least one teacher would be too nervous to shoot straight – like most soldiers and police officers – they only hit the target the first time in movies and on TV. Plus, it is very easy for a teacher to say that they would protect students in a massacre, but if it ever were to actually happen, they might not do anything except protect themselves. Also, even if the guns were kept in a “safe” place, it would probably be very easy for a student to break in and start the shooting themselves.
In addition, states tend to have skimpy requirements for obtaining a firearms license. Many so-called “gun advocates” believe that the government can’t be allowed to come between a citizen and his automatic weapon – in any way – and that includes safety regulations. Even if you decide to go through firearm’s training, it tends to be pretty light. Most gun owners don’t even go through this training anyways, they can just buy their gun from anywhere that sells guns without any requirements. I suppose it’s a pity that the sacred Second Amendment didn’t mention automobiles. (Yes, I know they didn’t exist in the 1790s.) But for a person under 18 to receive their driver’s license in the US, they need to go through at least 6 months of training. Some states have even higher requirements – by a long shot – and some states even require that you take a reading proficiency test to receive your license. But guns, no problem. You want ammo? Whatever you’d like.
As significantly more shootings have occurred since the Parkland school shooting, Trump has proposed stopping mass shootings with other equally bad alternatives. After the two deadly shootings that happened only hours between each other and killed 29 people in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on August 3, 2019 and Dayton, Ohio on August 4, 2019, Trump said video games were to blame because they “celebrate violence.”
Following the attacks, Walmart announced it would ban displays and signs of violent video games and all stores would work in “immediate action” to remove signage and displays that “contain violent themes or aggressive behavior.”
Of course, studies have shown that there is no significant link between increased aggression and time spent playing violent games. Director of research at Oxford’s Internet Institute, Professor Andrew Przybylski, said “the idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time.” He added that the games could only perhaps provoke angry outbursts while playing online. “Anecdotally, you do see things such as trash-talking, competitiveness and trolling in gaming communities that could qualify as antisocial behaviour.” If a parent doesn’t want their child to play video games because of the online competitiveness, then fine; but if their reason is because they think their child will become violent in real life, video games alone won’t make them violent psychopaths.
The Walmart shooter in El Paso was very clear about why he shot up the store – He was a white supremacist who believed there was an “invasion” of “brown people” infesting the US, and he was doing his duty to stop it. Is there anything about this that shows it’s because of violent video games? No.
The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population but has 31% of the world’s mass shooters – it’s an even crazier number if you adjust for race. The country has more guns per capita than any other developed country and many more gun deaths. Areas of the country that have more guns have higher rates of homicide. Homes with guns have higher rates of homicide and suicide.
There are solutions to America’s problem with violence. Yes, they all involve limiting guns and are easy solutions because none of them involve touching the seemingly sacred Second Amendment to the US constitution, the so-called “right to bear arms.”
One solution would be to require background checks of all people who want to buy a gun. Currently, the federal government only requires background checks from licensed firearms dealers. Research has shown that the states that require background checks on all gun sales had 35% fewer gun deaths per capita between 2009 and 2012, and researchers estimate universal background checks could prevent 1,100 homicides per year.
Another effective solution are red flag laws. These are laws in which a gun cannot be temporarily owned or possessed by a person if police or family members think that person poses as a danger to themselves or others. In order for this to happen, whoever is concerned must petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from that person. More states have these laws as gunmen of mass shootings are regularly proven to have displayed warning signs of deadly behavior before they attacked. Trump has not disapproved this, but he did say that those who have their guns taken away can fight back the order in court and receive their gun back. Why Trump is worried about the rights of lunatics to hold guns is unexplained.
An easy solution for school shootings would be to have faculty, staff, and students tune into the school climate and report alarming behaviors of a student’s potential desire to commit a violent attack. This could be found if the student has written or spoken threats against the school or other students or even drawn violent intentions or fantasies. These actions could have prevented the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school because the perpetrator, Nikolas Cruz, posted threatening messages on his Instagram account about killing others prior to the shooting. Rutgers Graduate School of Education Professor Matthew Mayer told NPR, “having the metal detector or the locked doors isn’t going to stop it … you’d better start thinking in a more comprehensive manner about prevention instead of reacting.”
In 2017, 28% of all arrests for weapon offenses were committed by people between the ages of 10 and 21, yet only 4% of the US population at the time were people between those ages. It might make sense to raise the age limit for gun ownership. After the Parkland shooting, Florida raised the age for purchasing any type of gun to 21, and Hawaii and Illinois have similar laws.
Those are some solutions to American gun violence which is one of the primary problems with the US society, but there are other important problems with America as well that need to be addressed as well.
Trump might not be the best choice for running a diverse country with over 350 million people. Many people voted for Trump because he was a familiar face. People thought they knew him because of his reality show, “The Apprentice.” But reality shows are fake. They might be called reality shows, but in reality, they are scripted, directed, and heavily edited. If anyone was actually filmed 24/7 and was shown on television without any script, direction, or editing, the show would be boring, and no one would want to watch it. Reality shows are meant for entertainment, that doesn’t mean that the person they’re filming is always going to be entertaining.
The important thing to remember about every movie, film, tv show … and reality show … is that there is no effort or requirement to depict reality. Only a tiny handful of people really know Donald Trump.
Trump has regularly changed his political views. In 1987 he voted Republican. In 1999 Trump claimed to have “no party affiliation,” although this is the era when he was “friends” with Bill Clinton. In 2001, Trump changed his party affiliation to Democratic. In September of 2009, Trump changed his party affiliation back to Republican. In December 2011, Trump changed back to “no party affiliation”. In April 2012, Trump once again identified as a Republican. What caused these great changes in political disposition? A change in philosophy? Or polling results? For the record, Trump defends this by saying that no one is exactly right and no one is exactly left. But no one can claim that Trump has a firm philosophy that he is keen to implement. Well, apart from racism and misogyny. Those seem to be firm Trump values.
Yes, I am aware that Trump was able to help get A$AP Rocky (who is half Somali) out of a Swedish jail. But for what reason? First of all, A$AP Rocky is another wealthy celebrity which likely helped his case, and we all know that celebrities get special treatment. There’s an additional reason as well, helping A$AP helped Trump get out of being pummeled with criticism about telling four colored, Democratic congresswomen (“the Squad”) to “go back” to where they came from, even though all were US citizens and three of them were born in the US.
Do not forget about Trump’s 2017 travel ban directed towards majority Muslim practicing countries including: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. At the time, only Iraq would’ve posed an actual threat towards the US because of ISIS. For the record, none of the 9/11 terrorists came from these countries. They mostly came from Saudi Arabia, a country that Trump seems to love, even though the heir to the throne reportedly had a journalist literally cut into tiny pieces in the country’s embassy in Turkey.
It goes without saying that Trump hates Africans, sorry A$AP. This is a Trump family value that comes at least from his father who discriminated against African Americans in renting housing units in New York. As for Trump himself, at a meeting with two officials, Trump read a paper stating that 15,000 persons had visited from Haiti, in which he commented, “They all have AIDS,” and when reading that 40,000 persons had visited from Nigeria, he said that after seeing America, the Nigerians would never “go back to their huts.”
Trump’s racist views seem particularly focused on Hispanics. The building of the Trump wall is one of his most infamous policies. When finished, this wall will completely barricade the US from Mexico. Trump tried to get the Mexicans to pay for the wall, but they rightly refused to subsidize Trump’s racism.
Trump is a misogynist. He has made rude remarks about women for years. He apparently hired at least one woman to provide him with sexual services during his wife’s pregnancy – what a gentleman. During the 2016 election, The Washington Post published a video about Trump and television host Billy Bush where Trump boasted that, “when you’re a star, [women] let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Shock. Trump has made other disgusting comments about women and still does.
This is who Trump is, but he is not doing this alone. The US federal government itself contributes to hate, both intentional and unintentional.
It might seem odd but on average a person who rapes another adult for the first time only serves 5.4 years in prison, but a person who only possesses (not deals) a hard drug often serves more time in jail. Jail sentences for drug possession vary due to individual state laws but can range from a few days or weeks to 10 years or more in prison. A person who raped another person should be put in jail for a much longer period of time because they have probably scarred their victim for life; and instead of putting someone in jail for carrying drugs, help them get help, make them go to a rehabilitation facility. Only a society blind to violence could punish a violent crime with a lesser sentence than a non-violent crime.
Another issue with the US government is how it deals with undocumented immigrants. The living conditions in ICE custody are reportedly atrocious. According to CNN there is “dangerous overcrowding” along with unsanitary conditions which include inedible food, small space, and unsanitary bathrooms. These newcomers regardless of their immigration status, are still people and everyone deserves to be treated with some amount of respect.
There have also been many crackdowns on undocumented aliens, specifically Hispanics. Many of the people that ICE has put in captivity are fully documented. In fact, not all of the people they have captured are even immigrants. The people are just “suspected” to be illegal immigrants, largely because of the color of their skin.
On Aug. 7, 2019, the largest crackdown on undocumented immigrants occurred in Mississippi. By targeting workplaces across six different cities in southern Mississippi, ICE agents, with the help of the local district attorney’s office, apprehended 680 people. This has caused many families to split up, and many children who were born in the US will lose their parents, not knowing where to go or what to do. Of the 680 people arrested in the raids, 271 were released with orders to appear before an immigration judge, and 377 are still in ICE custody. In short, 40% of the people who were arrested, have been let go, which is good, but they shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place.
The Mississippi incident was not isolated. On June 27, 2019, a US born teenage citizen was held in ICE captivity for 3 weeks. Francisco Galicia and his brother and friends were driving to Houston from Edinburg, Texas to attend a college soccer scouting event. On the way, there was a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, about 100 miles north of the US-Mexico border. Francisco and his brother were detained, his brother does not have legal status in the US, so he was deported to Mexico. Francisco had his Texas state identification, a wallet-sized birth certificate and his social security card. But, he had a Mexican tourist visa with him that inaccurately lists his country of birth as Mexico, setting up a conflicting nationality claim. When ICE discovered that he was legitimately in the US, they let him go but they didn’t apologize to the family at all. His mother reported that he came back looking underfed and he did not have a shower the entire time he was held because the bathrooms were so dirty.
Dear the United States of America,
It comes with great regret that I am writing this article. During my childhood, I lived abroad in Sweden and attended an international preschool. My teachers always encouraged students to be proud of their country, and I wanted to learn more about my country because it is a part of who I am. My mom would tell me all of these great things about America, and when I moved back in 2009, I was so excited; I was finally able to experience where I am from.
In my elementary school in the US, my classmates and I were always taught that we were “free” and that the country we lived in embraced “freedom”. We were shown videos of immigrants who were delighted to move to a place that was so much kinder, accepting, and safer than where they came from. In middle school, I was taught that the Americans were “the good guys” World War II by defeating the Nazis. I used to be so proud of my homeland.
When the infamous 2016 election rolled around and Donald J. Trump won by virtue of a flaw in the US election system, my childhood dream was let down. I felt sorry for the Black and Hispanic people who make up 30% of the US population because I knew discrimination against them would get worse, not better.
I did not want to live in a place filled with so much hate. One of the reasons I was so delighted when I found out my dad and I could move back to Sweden was because of the hostile social environment that America was quickly becoming.
I know this is personal, but I am much happier in Sweden, and the fact that Sweden doesn’t have nearly as many cruel situations that one can find America is one reason why. When people ask me where I am from, I want to lie. I do not want strangers to think I agree with the worst traits America is currently known for, because I don’t. I slightly hesitate to answer their question, because I know how the US is viewed by many people who aren’t Americans. In the eyes of someone who isn’t American, America is now often viewed as a hateful place run by a flippant, racist, misogynist.
This can change. Activate gun restrictions. Elect a president who isn’t a celebrity, a racist, or a misogynist. Protect innocent people from mistreatment and unfairness. These are some solutions to very important problems that occur in America. After all of the damage that has already occurred, it will take a while to change things but take some baby steps.
It isn’t always a bad idea to revert to what you used to be, if you were better in the past. Of course there were heavy issues with racism during this time but, please go back to who you used to be during World War II. With both being not nearly as racist as you were back then and doing the things above then you truly can make America great again.
Solutions to Guns:
US Government and Immigration Research: