A European’s Perspective On The Orlando Shooting And U.S. Gun Control

Dean Hochman
Dean Hochman

30 people will be shot dead today in the United States. If it’s less, tomorrow it will be more. Yesterday, 50 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

“Guns don’t kill people, humans kill people.”

This is the argument that you will hear whenever you try to talk to someone who is against gun control. As a European who spent my university years in the United States, gun control was one of those controversial topics that I never really could understand. The argument that humans kill people makes sense (to some) at first glance, but it’s really not that simple.

Would we be able to kill others if guns weren’t so readily available? The answer is no. And this isn’t just my opinion, it’s a fact. Those who are pro-guns will tell you that even if the United States had gun control this wouldn’t change the number of gun related fatalities. But it would.

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of a mass shooting in Australia, which led to strict gun control. The chances of murder by a gun in Australia plunged 72 per cent since 1996 when gun control was introduced.

The country has had no mass shootings since. Zero.

In 2015 in the United States, there were 372 mass shootings, killing 475 and wounding 1,870 (according to the Mass Shooting Tracker). A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four of more people, including the assailant(s).

To put this into perspective for you, the number of gun murders in the United States in 2012, was 30 times more than that in the UK.

In the UK, in 1996, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton killed 16 five and six-year-olds, along with the teacher who tried to protect them. Handguns were effectively banned after this massacre. There has only been ONE spree killing since this one in June 2010 when a lone gunman killed 12 people before killing himself in Cumbria, England.

Let me simplify this for you, in the UK it only took one mass shooting (like those that occur weekly in the U.S.) for gun legislation to be passed.

So you can imagine my shock when I moved to the United States in 2011 and witnessed news after news about mass shootings.

We are 164 days into 2016. The United States has had 133 mass shootings during this time.

A total of 207 people have died in these incidents, including those who were shot at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. In 2016, there have already been 15 mass shootings in Florida.

What’s astonishing is that mass shootings only make up a fraction of America’s gun violence problem. The CDC estimated that in 2013 alone, 33, 636 people died in firearm related deaths (this is 92 people every day). However, only 1.5% of these deaths (502 people) were connected to mass shootings. How often do we hear about a five year-old child who found their father’s gun and accidentally killed themselves or one of their parents?

Just two days before the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed in Orlando following her concert. For unknown reasons, 26-year-old Kevin James Loibl, decided to drive from St Petersburg to Orlando to kill the singer. Orlando police chief said that Liobl did not seems to have known the singer personally but speculated that he may have been a deranged fan. A deranged fan who was able to get his hands on a gun and shoot her.

These are just a few examples of the gun related horrors that face U.S. residents on a daily basis.

After the Viginia Tech shooting in 2007, we were reminded that going to college isn’t safe. After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, we were horrified and shocked by the idea that the U.S. government thought that killing children was bearable. Today, we are confronted with what is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. And yet, there are still people who are arguing that gun control wouldn’t have changed the outcome of this incident.

This is an ongoing cycle.

Every time there is a mass shooting, there are mumbles about gun control, and then a week later this is forgotten, until the headlines of another horrific mass shooting. And then this cycle is repeated, but nothing ever changes.

We cannot stop these mass shooting by sitting at home and hoping that we can end hate, or hoping that maybe today someone won’t walk into a gun shop with the intention to kill another human.

Humans may kill humans, but guns help them do it. TC mark

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