Xiang Changhe's Column:


  Why America's gun victims are as fierce as tigers

  Xiang Changhe (International Studies Scholar)

  On May 24, a shooting occurred at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

An 18-year-old man opened fire, killing more than 20 people, including at least 19 children.

The gunman, an 18-year-old high school student in the same school district, bought two guns as his coming-of-age gifts for his birthday.

He broke into the school and shot classroom after classroom in a heinous act that brought the issue of gunmen back into the spotlight.

  Why are gun victims in the United States like tigers?

The U.S. is the worst country for gun violence, with the highest rates of gun murder and suicide of any wealthy nation.

According to data from the US "Gun Violence Archives" website, as of May 21, there have been 210 shooting incidents in the United States this year with more than 4 deaths and injuries, and more than 16,700 people have been killed in various gun-related incidents.

  The author has been in Europe for many years, and most countries in Europe are legal to own guns. There are gun shops in inconspicuous places in the city, and ordinary people are not surprised.

But in general, European countries are far better in security than the United States. Except for the occasional terrorist attack with guns in the past few years, the usual criminal shootings rarely occur, not to mention school shootings.

However, on a business trip to Los Angeles in the United States that year, the driver was stopped by a policeman because the driver turned left illegally. After the car stopped, the policeman actually pulled out a gun under the clear sky and daylight to prevent us from doing “unscrupulous” actions, which surprised the author.

  How many guns are there in America?

The United States, with a population of nearly 330 million, has more than 400 million private guns, and each person holds more than one gun on average.

The proliferation of guns has led to a high incidence of gun-related violence, which has become one of the serious and chronic diseases of American society.

  Why is gun control so hard in the US?

Legally speaking, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed in 1791 grants citizens the right to bear guns, and the freedom to bear guns is regarded as one of the most important rights of individuals in the United States.

Because of this, the United States has formed a deep-rooted gun culture.

More than 200 years have passed, and great changes have taken place in both the social ecology and the lethality of weapons. With the rising antagonism of the people in the United States and the further increase of social disunity, guns have not only failed to ensure safety, but have created more and more weapons. Tragedy, but this outdated and dangerous gun culture is hard to shake.

In terms of specific implementation, various states in the United States have different degrees of tightness. Texas is one of the states with the loosest gun regulation in the United States. Last year, the Republican governor of the state, Greg Abbott, signed a series of related bills to allow the purchase and carrying of guns. , owning a gun has become easier.

  Against this legal and cultural background, the production, sale and use of guns has formed a huge industrial chain, and gun-owning interest groups such as the National Rifle Association have already penetrated into every aspect of American political life.

The National Rifle Association of the United States has a history of more than 140 years and has more than 5 million members. Many well-known politicians are members of the association.

As the voice for the interests of the American gun manufacturing industry and gun enthusiasts, the association has strong political influence and is the most powerful lobbying group in the United States.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, from 2000 to 2020, U.S. firearm manufacturers produced more than 139 million guns for the civilian market, with 11.3 million in 2020 alone.

According to a report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the size of the U.S. gun and ammunition market has continued to grow in recent years, reaching $70.5 billion last year.

More Americans are also choosing to own a gun, with 5.4 million new gun owners last year.

  The Rifle Association has always been committed to killing all possible gun control moves in the cradle.

The United States is electoral politics, and votes come first in the minds of politicians.

Armed with money and votes, the NRA has always successfully lobbied members of Congress to abort several gun control laws in American history.

According to data from the US website "Open Secret", from 1998 to 2020, US anti-gun control groups spent more than US$170 million to lobby politicians and influence legislation, of which the National Rifle Association alone invested more than US$63 million.

Obstructed by gun interests, the United States has not passed major gun control laws for more than 20 years.

  The culture of violence further catalyzes gun violence.

From setting foot on the American continent to slaughter Indians to the "Westward Movement" of horse-riding and shooting pioneers, violence is the gene flowing in the blood of Americans.

For a long time, the US authorities have failed to supervise the dissemination of violent culture, lack of public education, and imperfect social assistance mechanisms, all of which have contributed to the continuous growth of violence genes in social culture.

  From movies to television, from video games to the Internet, elements of violence in American culture are spread through ubiquitous media.

The army, gangsters, police with violence and even superheroes have all become popular themes in Hollywood movies and TV for centuries.

  According to the official website of the National Coalition Against Violence on Television, according to a 2014 survey of U.S. TV programs involving violent content, 37% of U.S. national wireless and cable TV programs contain violence; 86% of home theater cable programs contain violence ; 85% of American TV network programs contain violence.

  In the era of new online media, the amount and speed of violent information has grown exponentially, making it more difficult to track and eliminate.

The United States lacks effective supervision of violence-related information and cyber violence, and some criminal content can even be broadcast live on the Internet.

These have subtly fostered the "violent character" of American society.

The dissatisfaction and violence in American society are on the rise, and the phenomenon of "shooting at a disagreement" is becoming more and more commonplace.

  Gun violence is also intertwined with many problems in the United States, such as political polarization, social division, racism, and the gap between the rich and the poor.

In recent years, factors such as the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, economic impact, and racial conflicts have led to a further increase in private gun ownership, which in turn has led to a surge in gun violence, which has stimulated more people to buy guns, forming a vicious circle.

Americans seem to be indifferent to the tragedies of nearly "day-shift" shootings that have been staged again and again.

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