West Texas shooting: is it going to impact America’s international reputation?
The whole world thinks of the United States as a land of expectations: a time-tested yet noisy democracy, crusader in foreign policy, an exporter of beloved pop culture including music, sports and films - but there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike; why, they ask, has it experienced several mass shootings in these days? Some assume, while the American society is unusually violent, its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society or its citizen lacks proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad. However, the root of the violence is nowhere near these assumptions. It can be believed that America certainly does not have control over massacres because of the deficiency regarding gun regulation. The government appears to be oblivious to these. Is it the citizens of America, or the American system itself is responsible for such carnages?
Of course, other countries have also experienced mass shooting, however not at the frequency reported in the United States. That being said, the number of mass shooting incidents in the US, continues to rise steeply day by day in an alarming rate. If we look at the recent research on mass shooting, the intensity of massacres in the US would be even more conspicuous. Jaclyn Schildkraut from the State University of New York and H. Jaymi Elsass of Texas State University conducted a research with a view to analyzing mass shooting. The research included 11 countries, covering the period from 2014-18; aside from the United States, they looked at Australia, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland. They have shown that the number of mass shootings in the USA is more than the combined number of shooting of the rest of the 10 countries in the given period. In addition, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 279 mass shooting incidents have occurred as of August 31. A shooting incident in West Texas occurred on Saturday, August 31 that left at least 8 people diseased and 22 wounded marked the 279th incident so far this year. In 2018, a total of 340 mass shooting incidents occurred across the U.S., which is a slight decrease from 346 incidents in 2017. Ironically, the number of 2019 incidents is higher than that of the same time period in 2018, in which 237 incidents occurred through August 31, 2018. So it seems difficult to root for a strong possibility that this severe issue will be resolved soon.
On top of this, it is heartbreaking to see the dreamland aka USA has been frequently experiencing such gut-wrenching incidents. Getting mercilessly shot cannot be anyone’s desire, let alone for the people peacefully accomplishing day to day activities. In the recent times, West Texas shooting on Saturday, August 31, 8 people got diseased and more than 20 injured including a 17-month-old child and 3 officials seriously injured. At this critical moment, it is ridiculous to see a Republican lawmaker states that “People should pray for the shooting victims and for the protection.” Although it is beyond doubt that prayers are the best thing since the God is the mightiest and the most merciful. Nonetheless, a state lawmaker cannot simply confine his duty by suggesting people to pray without providing any effective sustainable solution. Yes, God gave us brain, smartness and common sense- but unless we have productive steps followed by active actions, prayers to God is thoroughly a whimsical way to get these unnatural incidents over. God is perhaps wondering why people only keep praying and not acting with the brain, intelligence and common sense he blessed us with.
While many believe mental illness is a prominent driver of mass shooting, actual research says differently. Study shows that less than 4% of mass shooters are diagnosed with mental health illness. If the administration were to prevent anyone with a mental health diagnosis from owning a gun, it would do nothing to slow down mass shooting. Most importantly, removing automatic weapons will have to be a part of an inevitable solution. The United States has arguably the weakest control over who may buy a gun and what sorts of guns maybe owned. Most importantly, people should not essentially be able to buy assault weapons. Strange in reality, but owning guns is far too easier than managing a driving license in the USA- according to Laura rice, an American friend of this writer.
As a consequence, it results in more crimes. It is correlated with the second amendment of US constitution: the law is partially based on the right to keep and bear arms. Now in this era, it became urgent to make the States’ gun laws more stringent, setting a higher bar for securing and keeping a license, for selling guns and for the type of arms that can be owned. This is solely because, assault weapons result in more violence as people can own it with least effort whenever they intend to. While no particular person is directly responsible for those shootings but the shooters, question remains how efficiently the US deals with issues like gun control, climate change, white supremacy and mental health issues.
At this point, the urgency has risen to the pick to believe in humanity beyond nationality. People around the globe might frown upon the American people and presume that these kinds of horribly destructive massacres reflect the violent attitudes of American civilians. Even some might put forward a question: is this the United States of America or the United States of Ammunition? If someone justifies the Americans by a handful of notorious political leaders of the US congress, that would be a stereotyped assumption. The regular Americans are not this violent that one can assume through its pop culture- rather, in general, they are humble, loving, harmonious and promoting unity towards the world. Undoubtedly, the Americans feel the sting of the pain for the victims in mass shooting, just like the rest of the world. For the Americans, to witness it, is one tragedy- and to be considered as part of it, is another tragedy. Humans are all equal regardless races, religions and nationalities; apparently the best panacea is to spread love among one another leaving hatred, superiority and hostility aside. It is time to understand before mercilessly judging all the Americans and the world needs to stand beside the USA at this critical time and spread love above everything.
Mahde Hassan is a freelance blogger and student of the Department of English, East West University.