Less than half a percent of the victims of guns in the United States meet their end in mass shootings of the sort that make headlines and ignite arguments on legal gun ownership, as was the case in the wake of the Orlando massacre — as long as you don't mention the giant elephant in the room.
There was a black joke going around during the Second Lebanon War among reservist soldiers who arrived at the meeting points only to discover that the emergency warehouses were severely lacking in equipment, including weaponry. "At least those who live in Netanya could have brought their weapon from home," it was noted cuttingly, referring to the high crime rate experienced by the city a decade ago.
If that war had taken place in America, everyone — not just Netanyans — would be able to bring a weapon from home. In fact, the U.S. is home to more private weapons than it is to people. It was 2009 when the number of weapons held by citizens overtook the number of citizens themselves; 2009 was also Barack Obama's first year in the White House.
That figure is not merely a piece of trivia. Experts claim that the U.S. president's never-ending and failing attempts to change the laws relating to weapon ownership have brought about a sharp rise in their sale. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, and here too the publicity worked in favor of weapons sales — and how. Today the number of weapons held in the 50 states that make up America is estimated at 360 million, compared to 320 million residents.
The right to bear arms becomes a topic of fierce and emotional contention in the U.S. after every incident of mass slaughter. After all, it's the done thing: When all across the nation, scenes of bodies being carried out on stretchers are being played on a continuous loop on television screens, there's no better time at which to try once more and influence one of the debates that goes back to the roots of what it means to be American, practically since the concept of “American” came into being.
In the case of the Orlando massacre, the focus on this issue is also in the serious interest of anybody seeking to divert the argument away from the giant elephant in the room — radical Islam. Amazingly, all the main American talk show presenters opened their first broadcasts following the massacre with the topic of firearms laws and the urgent need, in their words, to alter the Second Amendment to the Constitution — that which defines the rights of Americans to "keep arms." The monologues of the different hosts were very similar, and hardly even a word on the Islamic State was to be heard; no reference to international terror. Just change the law already, and everything will work out.
Such behavior is of course related to the fact that most of these talk show hosts represent the liberal-Democratic side of American society, and their desire to align with Obama's efforts to set in stone a narrative of a dreadful murder. That means concentrating entirely on the issue of gun laws while running away determinedly from the fact that the attacker was a Muslim who had sworn allegiance to the terrorist organization “Daesh’”(the Islamic State group), which of course itself was not long in claiming responsibility for the attack.
The National Rifle Association, when asked why Americans need so many weapons, tends to hit back that the "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." That sentence summarizes an entire philosophy of life revolving around good guys versus bad, an instantaneous civil response that overtly doesn't trust the federal government, and has many generations of collective memory of the inhabitance of wild frontier regions surrounded by enemies, in which the nearest police station was 200 miles away.
Conversely, those who oppose the right to bear arms will say that such a narrative is a children's myth whose usefulness has long since expired along with the disappearance of American Indians and the imprisonment of the handful that remained in reservations. What relevance do outdated threats about Wild West conquest have when city gangs can buy guns in order to butcher one another, they say.
It's impossible to resolve this debate without predictable and tired recourse to a pre-ingrained political tendency. But for whoever wishes to try and understand this issue not only through headlines and spin but also through hard facts, here are a few statistics that might manage to surprise you: Less than half a percent of those murdered in shootings in the U.S. die in mass shootings of the sort that always reignite these debates. For example, 12,000 people were shot dead in the U.S. in 2015. A total of just 39 of those were killed in mass shooting incidents.
Furthermore, more than half of all those shooting victims were actually suicides. Would all those committing suicide have re-evaluated their lives if only they hadn't so easily been able to purchase a handgun from the store down the street? Studies from other countries have proven that such assumptions are not necessarily correct. And here's another statistic: Since 1993, the number of weapons held by ordinary citizens has risen steeply. Despite that, the mortality rate from shootings per 100,000 persons dropped from 1993-2010 by 49 percent — almost half.
Does all this mean that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should remain untouched until the end of time? Not necessarily. Do these statistics provide any comfort to the families of murder victims? Absolutely not. However, it might indeed mean that the liberal media in America is taking care to steer events in the direction it so desires, and to transform the main issue — the worldwide threat of radical Islam — into a subpoint.
One of the greatest fighters against gun laws in the United States is the documentary film producer Michael Moore. In one of the occasions in which he bemoaned the state of affairs, he claimed that John Lennon only died because he decided to live in the USA, a country in which it is just so easy to obtain a weapon and use it to murder. On the other hand, Moore added, Lennon's fellow Beatle, George Harrison, was able to escape the attempted murder in his British home thanks to the law outlawing the sale of weapons there.
It's a nice story, but it doesn't quite line up with the facts. Mark Chapman, Lennon's assassin, arrived in New York with his handgun but without ammo. Once he realized that in New York he couldn't purchase bullets for his revolver, he flew to Georgia, bought some from a friend and returned to New York in order to enact his plan. It therefore wasn't as easy as Moore tries to make it out to be, but why check the facts when you've got a narrative you need to promote? By the way, Chapman purchased his handgun in Honolulu, Hawaii, the city of Barack Obama's birth.