Monday, 21 May 2018

More Guns vs Fewer Guns

Here's an astonishing statistic and front page from The Daily News which puts the latest mass shooting incident in America into proper perspective.


Fewer Doors vs Fewer Guns (20/05/18)

The Independent reports that an elected official in Texas has responded to the latest mass shooting incident in America by calling for schools to have fewer doors. 

The underlying logic being that it's 'doors' that kill people - instead of easy access to guns.

Read the full report via the following link to The Independent.

Texas official responds to Santa Fe shooting by calling for fewer school doors

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said security guards are unable to protect all exits and entrances

By Jeremy B White - The Independent

Texas official responds to Santa Fe shooting by calling for fewer school doors

Texas’s lieutenant governor reacted to a deadly school shooting by suggesting schools have too many doors.

“We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward and retrofitting schools that are already built. There are too many entrances and too many exits”, Dan Patrick said during a press conference after a gunman killed at least 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.

In a familiar ritual, official updates on the toll gave way to vows from public officials to prevent a similar massacre. Texas Gov Greg Abbott said “it’s time in Texas we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again”, saying he would work with legislators to find as-yet-unidentified “solutions”.

More Guns vs Fewer Guns (19/03/18)

A thought-provoking post on Twitter on the unique problem that America faces with guns.

A 44-year old man with severe mental issues attacked my former high school in the Netherlands today. Since he did not have access to guns, he brought knives, and was scared away by students throwing their backpacks at him. The man and students are now all getting help as needed.

The NRA (National Rifle Association) which gave Donald Trump $30 million to fund his presidential election campaign in 2016 is mounting a legal challenge to limited reforms over gun control in Florida following the latest mass shooting incident at Parkland school which claimed another 17 innocent lives.


More Guns vs Fewer Guns (21/03/18)Image result for Trump and Mar-a-Lago

I just heard that guns are banned at Donald Trump's exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

But how can this be, surely everyone would be that much safer if every Trump guest was issued with their own personal (NRA approved) assault rifle on arrival at reception?


Tears of a Clown (20/02/18)

Chris Riddell 18/02/2018

Chris Riddell's cartoon in The Sunday Times shows Donald Trump with an NRA security blanket.


Trump's Empty Rhetoric (16/02/18)

Lots of politicians, on the left and right of politics, use powerful rhetoric to get their message across when running for office.

But Donald Trump's hypocrisy seems to know no bounds as he blames a shooter's 'mental disturbance' for the latest dreadful incident in Florida.

Yet one of Trump's first acts as President in 2017 was to rescind the Obama-era gun checks for people with mental health problems.


Let Us Pray! (15/02/18)

My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.
Donald Trump Unveils a major new policy intitiative aimed at bringing mass shooting incidents in America to an end.


Trump TurningTurtle (03/10/17)

The BBC has a thoughtful piece today on how Donald Trump turned turtle over gun control - from someone one who supported a ban on assault weapons in 2000 to his support for President Obama's call for more firearms regulation in 2012.

Yet in 2017 Trump is now a full-throated supporter of the gun lobby and the NRA which speaks volumes about the state of American politics today.

Trump's new found 'love of the gun' is about opportunism and has nothing to do with the politics of conviction or bringing about much needed social change in the land of the free and the brave.

How Trump turned against gun control

By Anthony Zurcher - BBC North America reporter

Media caption - Trump on Las Vegas shooting: 'It was an act of pure evil'

When attempting to interpret Donald Trump's statements on firearm regulation, and how they could shape a presidential policy response to the Las Vegas mass shooting, the key is to note when he said them.

As with many of his political opinions, Mr Trump's views on gun control have shifted to the right over the years.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr Trump expressed support for a ban on so-called assault weapons - long rifles with military-style features to more easily fire multiple rounds.

"I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun," he wrote in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve.

In 2012 Mr Trump praised Democrat Barack Obama's call for more firearm regulation after the shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, school that claimed 26 lives, including 20 children.

Conservative bona fides

As Mr Trump began more seriously contemplating a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, however, his views on gun control changed. By the time he announced his entry into the race in 2015, he was well within the mainstream of the Republican Party, which viewed most forms of additional gun regulation as a violation of Second Amendment constitutional protections.

It was Mr Trump's way of establishing his conservative cultural bona fides - proving that he wasn't the big-city liberal he had at times seemed.

In an October 2015 Republican debate, for instance, he boasted that he carried handguns "a lot" and said government-mandated gun-free zones in places like schools, churches and military bases were a "catastrophe" and made for "target practice for the sickos".

Mr Trump would frequently say the answer to mass shootings was having more citizens with firearms - contending that the death toll in the Paris and San Bernardino attacks would have been much lower if bullets had been going "both ways" - towards the victims and the assailants.

The NRA's man
Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption - Trump at a National Rifle Association event, the largest US gun lobby, in April

To the surprise of many, Mr Trump secured the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in May 2016, at a time when some Republicans were still uncomfortable with the New Yorker as their presumptive nominee.

"Now is the time to unite," NRA Executive Director Chris Cox said at the time. "If your preferred candidate got out of the race, it's time to get over it."

From then on Mr Trump - in his statements and on his campaign website - largely echoed the NRA's hard line on firearm issues. The group would end up spending more than $30m (£22m) to support Mr Trump's presidential bid.

During the general election, Mr Trump attacked Democrat Hillary Clinton as being in favour of stringent gun control and pledged that he was the candidate that would protect the rights of the estimated 55 million Americans who currently own firearms.

There was one moment during last year's campaign, however, when Mr Trump did break with the NRA's line. After the Orlando nightclub shooting in June, he appeared to endorse limiting gun purchase for national security purposes.

"I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns," he tweeted.

Nothing came of that meeting, however, and as president Mr Trump appears to have made little effort to follow through on it.

'If crooked Hillary got elected...'

Mr Trump's only significant action on guns as president has been to sign a law rolling-back Obama-era limitations on the ability of those being treated for mental illness to purchase firearms.

During a recent campaign rally in Alabama, Mr Trump even revisited his old attacks against Mrs Clinton, warning "you'd be handing in your rifles" if she had been elected.

Congress is currently considering legislation that would make it easier for Americans to purchase silencers for their weapons - a proposal Mrs Clinton criticised in a tweet after the Las Vegas attack.

The president, so far, has not commented publicly on the legislation, which was expected to be approved by the House of Representatives but has little chance of passage in the Senate.

Image copyright - EPA

If the legislation becomes the centre of post-Las Vegas political controversy, however, it may be difficult for the White House to stay above of the fray.
A time to heal

In the meantime, Mr Trump now has the unenviable task of trying to heal the nation after yet another "deadliest mass shooting in modern US history" and explaining what - if anything - he proposes to do to stop future tragedies.

George W Bush's turn came in April 2007, as a shocked nation mourned 32 dead on a Virginia college campus.

Barack Obama had his moment in June 2016, following the Orlando Pulse nightclub attack that left 49 dead.

"This massacre is … a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theatre, or in a nightclub," he said after Orlando.

"And we have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."

Media caption - Barack Obama’s mass shooting speeches

No easy answers?

The story of Mr Trump's response is still unfolding. The number of dead has risen to 58, with the estimated number of wounded an astounding, incomprehensible 500.

After tweeting out his "warmest sympathies" to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting on Monday morning, Mr Trump took to the lectern at the White House to deliver a statement heavy on prayers, mourning and calls for unity but light on hints of what comes next.
Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES

During his morning remarks the president said that, in the search for "meaning in the chaos", answers do not come easy.

In coming days and weeks ahead, many answers for how to respond to the bloodshed in Las Vegas will be offered. They're already pouring in from the president's friends and critics.

Many will be policies - often contradictory - that Mr Trump, at one time or another, has supported. 


America's Dunblane (15/12/12)

There are obvious parallels between the Dunblane massacre in Scotland in 1996 - and the cold-blooded murder of innocent children in Connecticut yesterday.

16 years ago an inadequate man with a grudge and a gun walked into a local school in Dunblane - a nice, middle-class  part of Scotland - and deliberately killed 16 young children and the teacher - before the turning the gun on himself. 

In the leafy suburbs of Connecticut yesterday - a young man, armed with a variety of weapons, killed his mother at home before making his way to the school where she had taught - Sandy Hook Elementary - and shot dead 27 people including 20 children aged between 5 and 10.

The response in Scotland was swift and already tight gun controls were tightened even further - so that now you can't even buy an air gun (a BB gun in America) without a licence and a police check.

Now this doesn't make Scotland a better place than America - but it sure as hell makes it a safer one because there hasn't been another similar incident in Scotland since 1996.

Whereas in America these violent shootings seem to occur every few months as disturbed and/or inadequate people - with easy access to a wide array of firearms - decide to settle some score and make a name for themselves.

Now I don't underestimate the difficulty of changing things in America - because I know a few Americans and even some of the more liberal-minded ones buy into this business - about a citizen's right to bear arms.

I can see their point - up to a point - but yet again a major shooting incident has occurred but despite the proliferation of guns in America - the shooter is not stopped dead in his tracks.

Instead he kills himself with his own weapon - or as in previous incidents he is caught by the police after carrying out his foul crime.

The word 'his' I use quite deliberately since men have been responsible for all such incidents as far as I know - from Dunblane to Norway to America.

One thing's for sure, there will now be a big public debate in America - the one that was so noticeably absent from the recent Presidential election - which Barack Obama won, of course,  but by steering well clear of any confrontation with his country's gun lobby - as did his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, to be fair.

If any progress is to be made, I suspect this will only happen if the politicians avoid the kind of strident behaviour and language - that turns people off and sends them back into their bunkers - instead of encouraging people to think rationally and reflect carefully.

I can understand an argument that says the more people who carry guns - the safer things are for everyone - because the bad guy can be dropped dead with a single shot before he carries out his evil plan.

But that's a recipe for everyone carrying a lethal weapon - even teachers and young children at an elementary school - and sounds like something from the movies not real life.

So let's hear from you President Obama - people say that in American politics 'you campaign in poetry but govern in prose' - but this is a time for the kind of words and leadership which inspire a great country to change.