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Gun violence in the US

Americans must stop voting for politicians who will not commit to gun control

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 9:51pm

Once again, we are faced with a mass shooting in the US. This time, it is the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and three adults lost their lives. This horrific mass murder attests to the criminal negligence of our lawmakers and president, who dispense with responsibility by offering to the bereaved families their condolences and prayers.

No parent can draw comfort from these empty expressions. Nothing can assuage the agony of losing one’s child to an outrageous and utterly senseless attack – that could have been prevented. When will US lawmakers see that a de facto civil war is consuming us from within? Firearms are taking 33,880 lives each year – nearly five times more than US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. On average, guns kill 93 people every day, and at least 239 school shootings have occurred across the United States since 2012; a majority of the over 400 casualties being children under 19.

And yet, after every such unconscionable carnage, you hear our political leaders suggesting that this is not the right time to talk about gun control laws when the loved ones of victims are agonising over their loss. When will the right time come?

Shame on every single House and Senate member who each year takes millions in political contribution from the National Rifle Association to ensure their re-election. How regressive and ignorant can our Congress members be when they defend the second amendment of the US Constitution: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”? This was written over 200 years ago, when firearms were essential for self-defence against foreign militaries and tyranny. Times have changed.

Students plan Washington march to demand gun control after Florida school massacre

Yes, we can and indeed must blame every member of Congress for their criminal neglect. But we the people must not remain silent. Where are the tens of millions of Americans who seek gun control? Why aren’t we demonstrating in the streets day in and day out, demanding action? We have the power to end this national travesty by not giving our vote to any elected official who does not commit to enact gun control laws, and holding them accountable.

Dr Alon Ben-Meir, professor, Centre for Global Affairs, New York University