It might be strange for us, but not in the U.S.: After the massacre in Las Vegas, with at least 59 dead, stock prices for gun manufacturers shot up. Investors know that blood baths bring in money. Empathy? Not on the stock market. After the worst massacre in recent U.S. history, Americans will most definitely buy more weapons, because they believe that this is the only way they can protect themselves. Nobody wants to know whether it actually helps.
It is sheer insanity. Only three months are left until the end of the year, but U.S. statistics show that so far in 2017, 273 so-called mass shootings have occurred. We speak of a “mass shooting” when four or more people, not including the shooter, are injured or killed through the use of firearms. By the end of the year, there likely will have been more massacres than days in a year. This has happened before. Someone once calculated that over 90 Americans are shot and killed every day. A child in the U.S. is 14 times more likely to die from a bullet, a number that includes accidents, than a child in other developed nations.
Fear of the NRA
But American gun fanatics aren't impressed by those numbers. Impervious to reality, they believe the National Rifle Association when it claims the only thing that stops bad people with weapons are good people with weapons.
Weapon purchases increase after each massacre because many Americans worry that the government and Congress could get serious about the much debated tightening of gun laws. But even the blood bath in Las Vegas won't change the attitude of the Republican majority and the president. Many members of Congress are more afraid of the NRA than of the anger of voters who have lost loved ones. The NRA has a large campaign war chest to support or topple any politician who so much as thinks about tougher laws. The NRA can destroy political careers before they even start, especially in rural America.
And then there is the president, or to be more precise, the person who is performing as the president. Trump fashioned his election campaign as a campaign for the right to own weapons. He lied when he said that Hillary Clinton wanted to prohibit all guns. But his followers shouted: "Lock her up." The White House announced, just hours after the blood bath, that now wasn't the time to debate gun laws. But that time, it appears, will never come. Soon, Congress may even loosen the rules around the sale of gun silencers for private use. Such a law would likely mean that the next mass murderer can inconspicuously shoot a bit longer.
There's no shortage of suggestions for how to curb the problem. Why aren't buyers required to undergo a comprehensive safety check with the authorities? Why can an 18-year-old buy a gun, but not beer until he is 21? Why is it legal to buy weapons without restrictions on quantity? What hunter or marksman needs an entire weapons arsenal? When the shooting occurred, the Las Vegas shooter had more than a dozen weapons with him.
There are plenty of ideas. But we should not expect Trump to expend any effort around ending gun violence. While briefly addressing the nation, hours after the shooting, he sounded like a preacher when he called Las Vegas an “act of pure evil.” It was as if a supernatural power and not a U.S. citizen, armed to the teeth with permission from the government, had done the shooting.Trump sounded as if the only thing to do after a bloodbath was pray together that something similar would never happen again. But it will happen again.
Ironically, Trump has the opportunity to make more changes than his predecessor Barack Obama. Republicans relentlessly blocked every single one of Obama's attempts to tighten gun laws. Trump, on the other hand, is the hero of the angry white citizen. If he told them that America would benefit to make access to weapons a little more difficult, they would probably believe him. But this would require the courage to tell the truth — a quality the performer Trump does not possess.