During 11 a.m. Sunday morning worship, gunshots rang out in the air at the small First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The alleged shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, tried to make his escape, but once cornered, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This event marked the 307th mass shooting in the United States for 2017.
This is a small number in comparison to 2016, which proved to be even higher at 477 incidents. A mass shooting, in its simplest definition, is the killing of four or more people at the same time. So far, 26 people have died, with the number expected to rise due to severe injuries. As Americans and the world anxiously awaited a response from US President Donald Trump, who is on a five-country Asian tour, more details emerged about the alleged shooter, painting him as volatile, with a history of violence and disgruntled after bing dismissed from the US Air Force.
President Trump’s response to the shooting at a news conference in Japan was direct and once again avoided the broader issue of gun violence by narrowing it down to the events of the tragic shooting.
“This isn’t a guns situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event. A very, very sad event, but that’s the way I view it,” Trump told the room of reporters in Japan.
Trump also made the comment that mass shootings can happen anywhere, while ironically standing in a country with no record of mass shootings and very strict control of gun laws.
This dangerous response may, unfortunately, be similar to what a lot of other Americans are thinking. However, there are some people that are wondering how many mass shootings it will take before the gun control laws in the United States are revisited? A similar response came from the president just last month during the deadly mass shooting in Vegas which killed close to 60 people.
Sadly, hearing about mass shootings in America has become common place. If the situation is not blamed on mental health, it is blamed on terrorism. The bigger issue, which seems to be obvious to everyone else in the world, is the accessibility to guns. The fact that you can buy guns at the same time you do your grocery shopping at Walmart is appalling. Walmart in the United States sells firearms for the aim of ‘hunting or sporting’, but just like animals, guess what— humans can be hunted too.
The debate on gun control in the United States continues as almost half of gun users feel that owning a gun is part of their American identity. However, can we stop narrowing down these tragic events and fight to fix the bigger issue? Because without access to these deadly tools, 26 more lives could have been saved.
While President Trump blames this incident on mental health, in February 2017 he signed a bill undoing the work of former President Barack Obama to prevent those who were mentally ill from purchasing weapons. The bill stated that for those mentally unfit be added to a background check database. In doing this, President Trump had now made it easier for persons with mental illness to purchase weapons. So, is this really a mental illness problem? When will America admit the problem isn’t the people — it’s that all of these people have guns?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!