Another mass shooting: America is no longer safe

Are we completely helpless? Has this issue completely gone out of hand?

 |  4-minute read |   04-12-2015
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As of December 2, the San Bernardino shooting, in California, is America's 352nd mass shooting in 336 days of 2015.

The US President, while reacting to the latest shooting in an interview to CBS News, said it more eloquently than any of us can: "We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world."

Gun violence in daily American life is playing out with a sickening regularity, with predictable explanations of either mentally-ill shooters or "radicalised" terrorists.

Yesterday's shooting claimed 14 lives and left 21 injured. Yet again, American hearts were ripped apart by gun violence. On television, there were familiar images of police searching buildings and cars; medical staff frantically arriving to offer aid, with a feeling that there might be some who may have not survived. Photographs of horrified survivors crying and clutching each other were everywhere.

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Again, the grief-ravaged faces of the family members of those killed or injured flashed all over our TV screens.

These are images, we in America, are not only accustomed to, but are also the ones we're quickly getting comfortable with. This is our "new normal".

There are details still emerging in as who the perpetrators were and what drove them to carry out this heinous attack. We know that there were two main suspects, Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, who had a six-month old daughter together. They were killed in the shootout with the police, after the massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino.

I know the media will spend weeks analysing the suspects from every angle. Is this terrorism or plain evil people with hatred in their hearts towards America? The journalists will argue how another community is facing the horror and the trauma of senseless gun violence. And we all know that the heartbreak and the devastation will last long, even after the investigations wrap up.

But what will happen the next time guns kill? And when America is left to wonder again: Are we completely helpless? Has this issue completely gone out of hand?

Is our government powerless? Is the National Rifle Association too intimidating to take on?

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Even as random communities are left broken and traumatised by gun violence, the sale of firearms is steadily rising.

Last week, on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation processed 1,85,345 backgrounds. It's noteworthy to mention here that all guns bought in the last 15 mass shootings were purchased legally. At least, eight gunmen had criminal histories or mental health-related issues, but that did not stop them from purchasing guns.

People continue to stock up personal arsenals. The statistics are extremely grim. Reports say that in the last four years, more people have died from gun violence in the United States, than in the wars in Iraq, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan combined. That amounts to one death in every 16 minutes in America. And, there are currently 300 million guns in America in circulation today.

The US President and his Democratic party have focused on what they say is a problem; with guns being too easily available to all. The Republicans say that the possession of guns is a constitutional right and that emphasis should be directed towards mental health, which is actually responsible for the violence.

So, who is right? The heated, emotional debate remains unresolved.

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I believe that it's pointless to blame race or religion for mass shootings. If there were stricter gun control laws, there would be fewer mass shootings.

Meanwhile, my heart sinks as I say this, we are not safe in America. And even though I hate to say this, it would be long before we are talking about yet another mass shooting, somewhere in this country, yet again.

Writer

Sonia Chopra Sonia Chopra @soniachopra28

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Ohio. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Newsday, The Orlando Sentinel, Salon.com, Rediff,com, India Abroad, Indian Express, Firstpost.com, and The Quint.

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