The heavy price of American blood

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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United States President Donald Trump has opened an ever so tiny crack in the door, giving hope, even if faint, of the possibility of a bi-partisan approach in bringing some level of gun control in that country, after the latest mass killings in Parkland, Florida.

Mr Trump, although he did not specify, says he is willing to look at some measure of gun control, in the midst of the pain and grief unleashed by a lone shooter who snuffed out the lives of 17 people last Wednesday at the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School.

One has learnt to be cautious when it comes to the issue of gun control in the US, given the long and wretched history of stubborn resistance by the gun lobby — led by the National Rifle Association (NRA) — to even the thought of the slightest change to the Second Amendment which constitutionally protects the right to bear arms.

Every deadly massing shooting — 30 since 1949 with 19 of them coming in the last decade — has set off much wailing, gnashing of teeth, smiting of the breast and passionate calls for gun control, but in the end, nothing by way of serious action.

Many of those killings are fresh in the minds of Jamaicans, not only because occasionally some compatriots are among the victims, but because of the senseless nature of the carnage and the fact that even children are often not spared, as in Parkland.

Some of the more difficult-to-forget massacres include:

• April 16, 2007 - 32 killed and an undetermined number injured at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

• June 12, 2016 - 49 killed and more than 50 injured at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

• July 18, 1984 - 21 killed at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, California.

• August 1, 1966 - 18 killed and about 30 injured at the University of Texas in Austin.

• August 20, 1986 - 14 postal workers killed in Edmond, Oklahoma.

• October 1, 2017 - 58 killed and over 500 injured at the Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, ranking it as the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

• October 16, 1991 - 23 killed at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas.

• November 5, 2017 - 26 killed at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

• December 2, 2015 - 14 killed at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.

• December 14, 2012 - 27 killed including 20 children, ages six and seven at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

People outside the United States who are less caught up in the internal politics and therefore likely to be more objective, find it difficult to comprehend the reluctance to contemplate measures to make it more difficult for people to get guns, including assault rifles.

The ease with which it is possible to acquire guns in the US has had serious adverse impact on Jamaica which gets most of its guns from America, much of it illegally brought in and are behind the over 1,600 murders here last year.

We sincerely hope that Mr Trump can get the gun lobby to move in the direction of gun control, something no other president has been able to do in recent history.

America has paid a heavy price in innocent blood for its Second Amendment.

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