What’s Missing in US Gun Control Debates

These are the statistics:
1982-2011 – America has a public mass shooting at a rate of every 200 days
After 2011 – America has a public mass shooting at the rate of every 64 days

With the student-led March for Our Lives demonstration in 2018, public support ‘common sense’ gun control policies appears to be increasing. In fact, Abele reports that 90% of Americans “support universal background checks” for gun purchases. Capitalising on this, many prominent 2020 presidential candidates have taken it up as a policy issue.

But these discussions miss one crucial element of the problem: public mass shootings have become far more common recently (Mother Jones and Harvard School of Public Health), and there’s ample reason for that.

The one factor that cannot be ignored is best exemplified by Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 students in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. He was pictured wearing a Donald Trump campaign hat – saying ‘Make America Great Again’ – and allegedly had ties to white supremacist groups. 

A tweet, which is one of many, in which President Trump appears to demonise Mexican immigrants

Vitriolic political rhetoric is not a new problem – but it is one that has been exacerbated by the widespread use of social media. In addition to this, politicians’ use or approval of it themselves, whether serious or in jest, has the effect of normalising such opinions. 

This effect in turn can motivate the mentally ill, or otherwise unstable, to extreme lengths. In a world moving toward globalisation, we cannot tolerate another massacre – no matter who the victims are.

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